Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Add to the skill set - The sideline

It's great to have the throws, the catches, the speed, the cuts, etc. A skill which I consider one of my better abilities is being a sideline player.

Pictured Above: The sideline watches on as a Shazam Returns player and a Slow White player joust in the air (Photo taken by Me and that's why it's blurry).

One of the key advantages Ultimate teams have over other sports is that there is no restriction to where the players need to stand when they're not on the field. Most competitive teams tell their players to spread out around the field. The benefit being extra eyes and motivation all around the field, but the question is, what should you be doing?

The best advice I've ever had on how to sideline talk is from a former teammate Greg Lang. He made the comment that the sideline tells you what is happening, but doesn't make decisions for the onfield players. In other words, the sideline player is an extra pair of eyes to help out, and yet you'll hear many a sideline player telling the guys on the field what to do. In many cases, field perspective is different than sideline perspective, and it's better to provide additional information (with the exception of things like a player striking deep or an incorrect mark).

So, how do you practice being a good sideline player. The first thing is fitting into the team structure. I remember in my early days on Grand Trunk that my sideline chatter was too much for some of my teammates. Depending on the structure you might adjust and fit in with the team. In that case, I chose to stand my ground because I felt that my skill was useful for the team, but I stopped talking to those particular teammates when they were on the field.

Next, you need to develop you sideline style. Will you be a stream of consciousness, announcing everything that you see on the field. I think this is a poor choice since too much information for field players will be filtered out. You, also, need to pick your moments, and equally, you need to pick how much to emphasize different situations. This means you can't yell at full volume all the time, or like the boy who cried wolf, your cries will have no results. Tone and volume are useful in expressing the importance of the information to the guys on the field. I like to keep my instructions calm and positive when I can.

The other key to being a good sideline player is developing a feel for the game and learning to predict or detect certain developments on the field. What I like to do is pick a spot on the sideline (for me it's near an endzone line) and I watch all my games from that perspective. This is how I like to see the game unfold, and it is familiar setting that I've learned to watch the game from and read the situation.

Any team can use the sidelines as an advantage. The key is to use that advantage and avoid the desire to walk off the field and sit in a folding chair with your friends, screaming across the field about what's happening. There's nothing wrong with this in casual games, but at higher levels you've got to have as many eyes on the field as possible.



Taylor said...

"In many cases, field perspective is different than sideline perspective, and it's better to provide additional information (with the exception of things like a player striking deep or an incorrect mark)."

What's your opinion on telling a player to cut their deep cut short? ie someone else has already gone and they will be in the way. Does it fall under your exception?

dusty.rhodes said...

Two points:

1. One way of improving your sideline work is to do the same thing from different points on the field. That is, instead of staying in one spot as mentioned here, travel around the field and only look for one thing. Example: Last Back. But the list goes on forever.

2. I hate it when people give me tactical advice as an offensive player. I find it both distracting and presumptive. Your mileage may vary. On the other hand, I LOVE chatter when I'm on D.

honeyhands said...

It's tricky; but on offense sideline chatter can be very effective if you think that the problem on the field is one of fatigue instead of tactics. Is the player hanging deep because they are wide open? If not, it might be a good idea to encourage them to clear room, especially if you can see other players frustrated by a lack of green space on their own cuts.

I find a difficult point in sideline is to be specific enough for it to matter on the field- screaming 'watch out!' is not useful unless their are a bunch of anvils falling from the sky or something. Whereas, "Taylor, too many handlers, strike, you bastard strike!" at least has some specificity.

Tommy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ian Wang said...

Having a dedicated teammate talking to the mark on a sideline trap (for strike/no break) calls can be huge. This is of course true all the time, but particularly easy to set up for traps.

The Cruise said...

Having a dedicated teammate talking to the mark on a sideline trap (for strike/no break) calls can be huge.

One of my teammates pointed out to me that when I was yelling NO BREAK, it wasn't all that helpful, since there are essentially two sides to get broken on, and two totally different approaches to cut off those throws.
Now I yell out NO AROUND to let the mark know the cutter is open on the dump, and NO INSIDE to let the mark know the cut is open downfield on the break side.
STRIKE is still strike, but I think it shouldn't be called as much as it is.

Jeters said...

I think we've hit on a topic of interest. Maybe I'll add more.

I'm totally in agreement with the nobreak call being almost useless. We sometimes yell no backhand or flick to tell the player what to stop.


simontalbot said...

Great post. I've been thinking of a post along these lines.

I play university (college) ultimate in Australia and often have many intermediate players on my team. I love an active sideline and I'm always encouraging teammates to be vocal. Some pointers I offer...

- Pick one player and be their second pair of eyes. Tell them what's going on around them.
- Be specific and succinct. "Behind you on the left, ten metres" to a zone D wing is much better than "Someone's cutting in!"
- If you have nothing to say...just be encouraging!

A good training exercise for intermediate players is to pair people up, blindfold one, scatter some discs around a field, and the sideline partner needs to direct the blindfold partner to collect discs. The blindfold partner learns to filter out other voices and listen to their partner only, and the sideline partner has to think about the instructions they are giving.