Friday, September 28, 2007

Conspiracies and Flying Discs

I like the Ultrastar discs from Discraft. I've used them since day one of my Ultimate career and they just feel right in my hand. I'm sure the majority (if not all) touring players would agree that it's the disc of choice, but that's really because it's the disc we're used to, not because the disc has any special properties. I, personally, can throw both a Wham-O and a Daredevil disc. It's not that difficult.

Pictured Above: Discs. I've used this phot before, but I think it's fitting (Photo courtesy of Jason Moy).

So why does the UPA and the WFDF have methods to determine how to approve a disc for it to be used in tournament play (in any disc based game be it Ultimate, Disc Golf, Guts, etc.)? Well, I can think of one main reason; agreement on a common playing device(s) so that everyone can train with that device leaving the competition field even. It makes sense.

What does that mean for up and coming companies that want to break into the disc selling world. Well, it means you've got to find an early market outside of the federations that allows you to introduce your disc. Then you need to get a population that is used to and wants to use your disc at higher levels thus putting pressure on the major federations to include your disc as an excepted disc in tournaments. This also sounds fair, but a challenging road.

So is there a conspiracy? Well, first of all, there really isn't a conspiracy, but I think there might be a conflict of interest, and for once I'm undecided. For the WFDF I've found no advertising on their website that suggests a disc company supports them, but on the UPA site right at the bottom you can see a Discraft advertisement. Also, note that the Ultastar is the only disc approved for the UPA championships.

Outrageous! Well, let's not jump the gun yet. I thought I would go look at some other sporting organizations for comparison and FIFA immediately comes to mind with their golden Adidas ball. The website has nothing on the procedure for approving a ball, but they do have a very clear message from Adidas. To summarize, Adidas gives FIFA money. I can't exactly determine what FIFA is and how it distributes its wealth, but I'll assume it passes that to the tournaments and affiliated football associations.

So where do I stand at this point on the disc monopoly? A not for profit organization that makes money from disc advertising revenue and uses that money to help its members sounds fine. Does it even matter that much? At best, it might be grounds to demand more from the disc companies in supporting our tournaments. Now if we could just get the airlines and hotels on board.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Poll Thursday - First 2 Regionals

Last week it appears the majority of us believe that Canada will have 5 teams representing at the UPA Championships. Who are those teams? We'll find out soon.

With the Northwest and the Mid-Atlantic regionals happening this week I'll set up the poll for the Mid-Atlantic. For details on the Northwest go to Danny's blog, and put your bets in Furious if you like them this year (note that there is no Invictus option...don't count them out).

In the Mid-Atlantic poll to your right make your pick. The tournament RRI has them seeded in the same form as I have provided. The banter has Ring, Truck Stop, and Pike going with rumors that Burgh wouldn't go even if they qualified.

Good luck to all, and keep those RRI scores coming in throughout the weekend.

Dr. J

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wildcards and wild times into the fall series Regionals

Sectionals finished off this weekend and the wild cards to the championships have been announced. The Northeast Open was only 4 teams away from a third spot to go. This, I believe, is because Upstate New York sectionals is run in Rochester instead of Toronto, Kingston, or Ottawa which would increase the Open team number by at least 3.

Let's look how the wild cards affect Canadian teams:

  • Northeast
    • Open - as discussed 2 spots to go makes it tight once again for Goat.
    • Women - 4 spots with a strength and size bid. This is looking good for both Capital and Storm.
    • Coed - 3 spots with a strength bid is good for BFC and Denoiret.
    • Masters - 2 spots like almost always. Three strong teams fighting for a spot with Tombstone right in the mix.
  • Central
    • Open - 3 bids (1 size) will help General Strike if they go and can knock off some of BAT, Madcow, Frontline, and Machine.
  • Northwest
    • Open - 4 bids (2 strength) means lots of spots, but still one of the strongest sectionals. Furious, with their potential low seeding will still have lots of room. Invictus has an outside chance.
    • Women - 3 bids (1 strength) will help out Traffic's chance but Riot and Fury, arguably, get 1 and 2 leaving a fight between Traffic and Zeitgeist for the 3rd spot to go.
Over the weekend the only non number one seed to be knocked down a notch was Club Team X with a loss to Chuck Wagon in the West New England section.

This weekend is the Mid Atlantic Regionals with expectations of Ring of Fire, Truck Stop, and either Pike or Burgh to qualify for Nationals in the Open Division; Backhoe, Loose Cannon, and Wicked are the favourites to qualify in the Women's. Also this weekend the Northeast has Furious, Sockeye, Rhino, and Jam favoured to qualify with Invictus, Voodoo, and Rhino all with the potential to upset; in the Women's Fury and Riot will likely be the 1 and 2 while Traffic, Zeitgeist and Schwa battle it out for the 3rd spot to go.


Monday, September 24, 2007

College Tournament 3 - Lesson 1 - Ingredients to stay on top... mix the parts together for a great meal

Our University club team, Torontula, had our first tournament of the season up in Ottawa this weekend for Canadian Easterns. Our team is the current Canadian University Champion and we're in a position we've never been before. We're not the underdog, and everyone is looking to beat us.

Fortunately, our team this year is, arguably, better than last year with many of our returning players improving their games over the club season, and a strong set of new faces to fill out the roster. Still, the psychology of being on top is completely different since there's some aura of pressure to win.

Pictured Above: Torontula this weekend (photo courtesy of Mark Kowgier).

A few things I think that are key to keep for a team in this spot are put the pressure on to perform well as opposed to solely winning and keep the game and tournament fun.

The reality is it comes down to each individual and how they deal with being in different situations. Personally, once the game has started I don't look at who's the expected better team, I just go into the situation and try to focus as best I can. That's how I try to break the game down for the younger players.

A tournament is made up of seven or eight games. Each game is made up of a number of points. Each point can be broken into individual match ups. Each match up will include cuts, throws, catches, marks, and positioning. Deal with each of these small pieces and the bigger picture will come together.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Cold sores - not the lip kind

As fall hits in a matter of days and some of us continue into the fall touring season, fall leagues, and college season a key issue in terms of keeping your body healthy comes up - playing in cold temperatures.

My friend's Lisa and Shawn brought this up about the same time I was thinking about it last spring. I had just hurt my hamstring at Double Down in Central Michigan after a good warm up and countless months of stretching and working out in preparation for the season. I realized that the majority of my injuries happen in the colder months.

Pictured Above: Goat at Chicago Heavyweight Championship. Notice the belt on John Hassell - Greatest trophy ever (photo courtesy of Adam-photographer for CHC)

The problem seems simple to solve. It comes down to:
  • Make sure you warm up properly
  • Put on warm clothing at any breaks (arguably wear warm clothing while playing)
    • The toque is an amazing piece of warm clothing
  • Continue to do mini warm ups throughout the day
  • Stop playing for any body twinges you feel and evaluate
If only I had a little voice in my head that would remind me of those four things. If anything, it is very useful to have one person on your team who is responsible for constantly reminding the rest of the team of these simple concepts.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Poll Thursday - Canadian Teams at UPA Finals

Last week a large percentage of voters voted that they would pay close attention to the UPA series. I'm one of them as both a participant and active observer.

From a Canadian perspective how do we think teams will fair this year? The actual poll question is of 12 teams that I'm guessing will be at Regionals (Goat, Invictus, Furious George, Blackfish, General Strike, Capitals, Traffic, Storm, Bytown Flatball Club, Denoiret, Tombstone, Glum) how many do you think will make it to the UPA championships in Florida (one of 16 teams in each division).

Poll is to the right.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More Commentary - CUC Finals

I've been a little slow on releasing our (Norm and Peter) commentary from Canadian Nationals finals. I should thank Rahil Suleman for being our spotter during the broadcast and helper during the commentary.

Here are:

Again, to all listening the commentary is just for fun. We make lots of errors on names and make some attempts at funny comments. At one point I'm calling a player on the Capitals a Canadian rower.


Monday, September 17, 2007

Sectionals Weekend 2

Most of weekend 2 in the fall series sectionals went as scripted. I, unfortunately, lay on my back the entire weekend wishing I was in Rochester at our Sectionals. Here's a quick summary of the weekend.

In the Open division there are no big upsets. All the number one teams won out their brackets except last weekend where Revolver beat Jam in a a very tight game to take first out of Northern California. The most anticipated game was between Sockeye and Furious with Sockeye winning the section 15-10.

Pictured Above: More Goat vs. Sub Zero action at Chicago. Shaggy (Mark Zimmerl) of Goat is setting up for the throw (Photo courtesy of Robin Davies).

From a Canadian perspective, Furious George (Vancouver), Blackfish (Vancouver), Invictus (Calgary), and Goat (Toronto/Ottawa) move on to Regionals. Phoenix (Ottawa), Firebird (Ottawa), and Grand Trunk (Toronto) will be waiting to see if they qualify either in Div I or Div II Regionals.

In the Mixed Division there are a few surprises.
  • In East New England, Slow White (some pegging this team to win it all) loses to Quiet Coyote in pool play 11-13, but pays back the favor with 15-5 win for 2nd place in the section. Tandem takes the section never having to play Slow White.
  • In California, Brass Monkey takes first from Mischief (last years UPA Mixed Champions) 15-7 having lost twice to them in previous tournaments this year. This isn't a huge upset since both of these teams are top notched and will clash again and again on the road to Florida.
  • In the Rocky Mountain Section, DNC-07 takes first from Bad Larry beating them twice 13-11. Not much details about DNC-07, but we should keep an eye on this team.
Bytown Flatball Club will go to Sectionals next weekend as the Canadian representative in the division.

In Women's, all the big teams went through. In some of the bigger match ups, Riot beats Traffic in Washington/BC section and Fury beats Zeitgeist in Northern California. Both Traffic (Vancouver) and Capitals (Toronto/Ottawa) will be moving on to Regionals with Storm (Montreal) playing next weekend.

The fever continues.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Poll Thursday - Club Series Fever

Last week I polled about the awareness of the touring in your respective city leagues. From the results it appears that people in league know of some touring teams in the area. I get the same feeling here in Toronto, and I have some thoughts on the topic for an upcoming post.

I've always enjoyed both the UPAs fall club series and spring college series. Teams are ramping up for sectionals, regionals, and nationals. There's a two tier qualification system to get one of 16 spots (12 in the Master's division) in the finals in Sarasota, Florida.

The fascinating thing about the series is that for many teams sectionals and regionals will be the end of the road. For these teams these tournaments are the big show. They get to battle the incumbents who they may never get to play all season due to the tiering of tournaments. This is their big chance to see how they match up and show how they might fair in the future.

Even for the top teams, the road to Nationals is a long one as every region has up and coming teams nipping at their heels trying to make an Appalachian State like upset that will light RSD on fire. Each game needs to be treated as a legitimate game that will help build a successful run, and yet, each team has to plan how to deal with an entire tournament worth of games.

It's great fun to observe and play in, and my only complaint is the overall lack of media coverage for each of the stages of the series. The poll question this week is what interest do you, personally, have in the series? Make your pick to the right.


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Tournament 12 - Lesson 2 - Remember to play

Every time I move up to a better team I find the additional pressure a challenge. Mainly, I don't want to let down my teammates and I try to play perfect. I start making errors that I haven't made in a long time.

I realized this weekend after my first game that I need to stop thinking that way and get into the moment. Look for that free flow state in which you are focused on the game and performing instead of thinking too much about every little detail. Especially details like what shouldn't I do.

Pictured Above: John Hassell, #38 on Goat in the air against 3 Sub Zero guys at Chicago Heavyweight Championship (photo courtesy of Robin Davies)

After I started just playing Ultimate and working hard things started to flow. Sure I still made errors, but I strung 3 perfect games in a row until I had two more throw away errors. Again, I was thinking too much and I went back to playing, and finished the rest of the tournament on a perfect run.

I expect all the guys coming into their respective college teams trying to move up from B teams to A teams or high school teams to college teams are feeling similar pressures. Try to remember that down time is about thinking what to do. Downtime being after a drill, practice, game, or tournament. The rest of the time you need to be confident and play. Make the effort and most of your teammates will appreciate you.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tournament 12 - Lesson 1 - Dealing with pain is easy

We were a little short on guys this weekend at the Chicago Heavyweight Championship with only 18 guys for 8 competitive games against the best in the central region. The reality is you're going to be tired and in pain after each game.

Depending on the type of pain (soreness vs injury) I find that sore pain or chronic pain that I'm feeling are best forgotten as the pull occurs. On defense, I go into the dog like state and run down the field chasing the disc as fast as I can, and on offense, I totally immerse myself on focusing on the disc and the speed of the defense coming towards us to determine how safe the first pass is. From that point on until the end of the point I feel no pain.

There's no doubt that pain is one of those sensory focus things (lacking a proper technical term). At extremes pain will take over your mind, but nagging pain like sore muscles and appendages can quickly be ignored when you focus on something else. A simple test is how you can pinch yourself somewhere to refocus your brain on this new pinching pain.

The key on the field is to focus in on the point as soon as possible. That's all you need to be aware of for the next X seconds, and there is so much going on that there should be no time to think about the pain.

With our low numbers this weekend there were higher levels of exhaustion and pain, but our captain captured it before the last game on Sunday when he said that pushing through this one last game will make the long trip home that much easier.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Poll Thursday - Fall Series Excitement

Last week Labor day votes were off for the most part. Picking the so called "incumbents" in the Open didn't serve us well, but we were pretty close in both the Women and Mixed division.

This week I thought we would ask a simple yes no question. Is there any awareness in your respective city league about what is going on at the touring level. This is a general feel question and we'll use percentages to indicate how much awareness there is at the league level.

The poll is to the left.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

More indicators - UPA Fall Series

So, my feeling with the East Open teams is that they will compete with the West and might have a break through in the Open division. I would guess the East will get 2 quarter finalists and maybe 3 with a little luck.

Just for clarification, we will call the East - Northeast + Mid Atlantic, Central - South and Central, and the West - Southwest and Northwest.

The comments on my last post brought up the Central division and how it would fair. Well looking at the indicators:

  • Sub Zero - they look strong with losses only coming from teams I would put in UPA semi-finalist and finalist categories. Each loss was by no more than 6 points and that was against Furious who they later beat. It looks like Sub Zero is shooting to return to the Quarters and make a run at semis this year.
    • Positive outlook for the best team out of the Central division.
  • Chain Lightning - the best from the South and with only results from ECC. They have one big win over Johny Bravo and lots of 4 (or less) losses. It will be challenging to repeat their road to the semis last year, based on indicators, but these are just indicators.
    • Neutral results from a team that had great success last year.
  • Machine - Out of central with an appearance at the Colorado Cup. These guys beat Revolver but lost by big margins against Jam, Johny Bravo, Condors, and Sub Zero. It's hard to get a read.
    • Negative outlook based on big losses.
From the indicators it appears that both Central and East teams are offering up competition for the West. It appears that the West has more teams that will be fighting for berths in the quarters, semis, and finals in Florida, but the East+Central is offering up competition that on any given Sunday or Saturday could change the balance.

Yesterdays comment that teams probably can't get all their players out to these long distance tournaments might be a significant factor in using these results as indicators. Also, we should consider these tournaments as prep tournaments for each team.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

UPA Series - The indicators are done

All the big tournaments in the Open division have now passed that give people a clue as to what might happen in the fall series. Not to say anything can happen, but with Emerald City Classic, Colorado Cup, Labor Day, and Chesapeake tournaments complete we might be able to make some guesses as to what might happen in the UPA fall series.

First let's speculate the classic East vs West North America . Let's look at representatives from the East in the 3 western tournaments:

  • Truck Stop - Colorado Cup has them losing to everyone except Machine with some tight games all the way. They head out to Labor Day Classic and continue to lose against top western teams. They do win one against Rhino.
    • Overall a negative for the East, though not the top team out of the east.
  • Boston Ultimate - Wins over Revolver at Colorado, but not much success there. At ECC they beat Rhino, Sockeye, and Bravo from the West on day one and lose to Revolver and Jam.
    • Overall a positive sign that the East will compete.
  • Ring of Fire - Wins over Rhino and Voodoo (Seattle's number 2 team) at the ECC.
    • Overall a negative for the East with a win over one of the lower western teams.
It's definitely still favouring the west in terms of who seems to be stronger, but there are some signs that the eastern teams might surprise the west. They will at least compete in some tight games.