Thursday, October 30, 2008

Poll Thursday - Pick the winners

The semifinalists look like this.

Open:

  • Sockeye
  • Ironside
Women:
  • Fury
  • Riot
Mixed:
  • Mischief
  • Alpha Cobra Squadron
Master:
  • DoG
  • Troubled Past
Since the tournament is this weekend, I'll set up a winner poll, but we'll open it up to all the teams again. The poll will close Sunday morning (earlier for Masters), so make your picks before then (poll right).

PJ

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Link Friday on Wednesday - UPA Championships

The early addition link this week:

  • UPA championship is already midway through. Check out the action here.
PJ

Are we Pirates?

Obviously, much of what I right about comes from resynthesizing other sources of information and applying ideas to Ultimate. My latest read is a book called the Pirate's Dilemma by Matt Mason (A pretty good read).

Pictured Above: A pirate duck (one for Crispy).

In this book, Mason looks at historical Pirate movements in our past that have led to what we consider normal in present day. He then looks at modern "Pirate" endeavours and questions how they will/are reshaping our modern capitalist world.

Ultimate has some roots in this domain. In some ways, we're rebels without referees and spirit of the game. We don't fit into standard sporting organizations, and the mainstream could care less about what we do. Tournaments are run all around the world, and people come and enjoy a different type of game. Also, out of this companies have emerged with different paths, and the jerseys of late are artistic works in comparison to traditional team jerseys.

Making our own path is changing somewhat to the mainstream. I've crossed back and forth across the line of "mainstream" and "legitimizing" trying to decide where I stand, and this line crossing has been pointed out more than once by past commentors. It seems inevitable that as the sport grows and we bring more people in who've been in other sporting domains that many of the ideas in other sports will mix into Ultimate's culture. Just like other cultures and religions worry about population influx, Ultimate is similarly impacted.

The same happens with all sorts of counter cultures. Pirates or rebels of the past are now the leaders of today. Mason points out how Punk and Hippy movements still ended in commercialization, but some of these endeavours have changed corporate culture to the beliefs from their founding movements (to the arguable better or worse).

Maybe Ultimate can play a roll in sporting culture accross the world. Number one on my list would be giving young North American athletes an outlet where the angry parents can't live through their children (and stress relieve by attacking referees and coaches).

What I really want to emphasize is that we can be sporting Pirates. Steal from the good and toss out the bad. We play an outsider sport, and the biggest opportunity we have is to do things differently (hopefully for the better). Forget about television. Ultimate and the Internet have similar existance frames and that's where we belong. Blogs, online score reports, live feeds, podcasts, and RSD are what we can do well.

Those concepts are even mainstream ideas. Maybe it's time for online officiating or maybe the rules need to be changed to live playing sidelines. We still have flexibility to change in Ultimate. Frank, the UPA, myself and others are the old views, and the young guys and girls getting into high school and college need to shape this sport in their image.

Go GOAT!

PJ

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Science, Reading, and ...

Actually, I've decided to write about the science of reading the disc. I've read a few posts on the science of baseball, and this post in particular analysed the science behind fielding a baseball.

Pictured Above: The boys I miss. good luck to you all this weekend, and Chua, don't put Martinis in your eyes (photo courtesy of Marc Hodges).

From the above article, it's clear that there is controversy about theories of evolution and how it applies to a specific skill like fielding. There are two things that I think we can take from these ideas.

The first, is that these types of skills are learnt from practise. Each repetition helps you develop your intuition on reading the disc. This is good news since we can train the reading skill. What I think we do wrong in training is we don't vary the reading angles as much as we should. At least in my experience, the majority of reading drills we do are hucking drills. There's nothing wrong with hucking drills, but teams tend to do the same drill over and over from similar angles. I would suggest, reinventing a few hucking drills to improve disc reading skills.

Pictured Above: A joust between Bodhi and Goat. I like the Bodhi jerseys, and once again VC shows off more exciting jersey desgins (photo courtesy of Marc Hodges).

The second idea that might be useful to take from the science of fielding is rethinking the mechanics of reading the disc. How can we break down the read a little more? My first thought is on the release of the disc, like the crack of the ball off the bat, the throw is probably the most important thing to see for your read. How many times have you seen a misread disc based on the receiver not seeing the initial huck? Along the above lines it might be useful to train the read from a disc already in the air to develop that second chance intuition.

PJ

Friday, October 24, 2008

Links Friday - News, Xmas Gift Idea, Thoughts, and UFC 90

My favourite links this week are:

  • Torontula gets written up in the Varsity...and Taylor credits Kirk and I...there are many others, but it's always nice to see your name.
  • A fellow Ultimate friend of mine, Hillary, who I've worked with in the past has made a children's book - Ninja, Bear, Cowboy. It's one of those things that's great for gifts, and it's supporting some art from the Ultimate family. I'm not sure if there's any Ultimate related info in there (though the front page would suggest so), but it is a form of rock, paper, scissor...close enough.
  • If you're not following this blog, Thoughts, then you're missing out one some interesting philosophy of the game. I know I advertised this blog before, but Mackey is posting regularly and there's some interesting ... thoughts.
  • UFC 90 is this weekend...Canadian vs. Brazilian in the Main event...
PJ

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Poll Thursday - UPA finalists

Based on last weeks picks, here are the expected semi-finalists.

Open:

  • Sockeye
  • Ironside
  • Johny Bravo
  • Revolver
Women:
  • Fury
  • Riot
  • Traffic
  • Backhoe
Mixed:
  • Mischief
  • Shazam Remains
  • Alpha Cobra Squadron
  • Flycoons
Masters:
  • DoG
  • Surly
  • Troubled Past
  • Throwback
The polls this week are who you think will make the finals (polls right).

PJ

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

They did it, and in the EPL no less

I'm sure you've laughed at the concept. Each of the regular readers wondering about my credibility as a coach of the game (note, you should still wonder). Well, I've seen an English Premier League team do it, and it makes me feel that we've made some inroads in our Ultimate psychology. Of course, I have a record of wins to prove that the idea has some merit.

Pictured Above: Big Mark taking a free kick from our seats in Craven Cottage (picture from Lexi Marsh).

What I'm talking about, is the little fun games teams I've coached play in big situations to relax, and how much I feel it has influenced some key games.

Low and behold, at half-time in a tight nil nil game between our team Fulham and Sunderland, the Sunderland guys were playing a little game to relax. They were smiling and laughing even though they're playing an away game in, some would argue, the biggest watched league in the world.

That's it...I was happy.

PJ

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Me and I ... differing oppinions on the right way

Thomas Schelling won the Nobel prize in economics. That's the type of guy we want helping us through our sporting challenges. Really? Well, at least, those were my thoughts today as I searched the web on ways to motivate myself to getup in the morning to workout (noting that as this article goes out I've finished my workout). Well, in my search I fell on some of Scelling's work (JSTOR: The American Economic ReviewVol. 68, No. 2 (May, 1978), pp. 290-294, V22N3P251_269.pdf).


So, how am I relating Schelling's work to Ultimate? Well, the thing I found interesting is how he related my morning wake up routine as a battle between morning Peter and evening Peter. Both characters seem rational when I meet them, so like many habits in life, the question is how do I motivate one person to do the other persons bidding. In the morning, the habit evening Peter thinks is great is an early morning workout. Morning Peter thinks sleep is a great activity that is the best choice.

Some of the motivations I've come tried for the Egonomics of the morning are:

  • Going to bed early enough (helps)
  • Moving the alarm across the room (doesn't work)
  • Paying myself (doesn't work)
  • Winner! Getting a workout partner to make you want to be there ( I miss you Kirk)
In this post, I'm looking for other people's ideas to help reinforce the good habbits that we would like to help us play and improve our game. There are all sorts of challenging situations where we find this duality of minds.

For example, there's the prefer to miss practice versus getting to practice early Peter (not a big challenge in my game, but challenging for some). There's the loose playing throw away Peter versus the tight focused Peter. There's the one more chinup Peter to the give up Peter, and don't forget the dangerous serious tournament Peter who sleeps early versus 8 beers won't hurt my game Jeters.

The challenges of life and Ultimate have a number of similarities. I enjoyed Schelling's thoughts on the dualities each person takes, and a categorization of why we may behave irrational, with respect to another of our states, under certain conditions. What was missing from his work, for me, was some good tactics or exercises that can help you. Any ideas for good carrot and sticks?

PJ versus Peter

Friday, October 17, 2008

Link Friday - Northeast, Step back, Conference 1+, and Funny

My favourite links this week (less and less Ultimate as we go into the off season):

PJ

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Poll Thursday - UPA club semi-finalist picks

Here's the results from our regional picks:

  • Ring of Fire - Mid-Atlantic Open
  • Backhoe - Mid-Atlantic Women
  • Amp - Mid-Atlantic Mixed (still qualified)
  • O.L.D.S.A.G. - Mid-Atlantic Masters
  • Johny Bravo - Southwest Open
  • Rare Air - Southwest Women
  • Barrio - Southwest Mixed
  • Old in the way - Southwest Masters
  • Sockeye - Northwest Open
  • Fury - Northwest Women
  • Shazam Remains - Northwest Mixed
  • Troubled Past and Throwback - Northwest Masters
  • Chain Lightning - South Open (qualified in second)
  • Ozone - South Women
  • Chewbacca Defense - South Mixed
  • Mileage - South Masters
  • Sub Zero - Central Open
  • Pop - Central Women
  • Alpha Cobra Squad - Central Mixed
  • Surly - Central Masters
  • Ironside - Northeast Open
  • Brute Squad - Northeast Women
  • Slow White - Northeast Mixed
  • Dog - Northeast Masters
So we're 19/24 in picking the top seed out of each region, and all our picks made it to Florida.

Let's make a two week poll on the finals. This week, we'll pick our semifinalists and next week we'll pick the top spot (polls right).

PJ

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cultimate stirs the US College scene

If you haven't heard the breaking news in Ultimate, then it appears that Cultimate is making a move to take over some of the College series with their own division. Note this is the another Cultimate separate from this blog. I met Skip Sewell, briefly, in Vancouver at Worlds in a sushi place near UBC campus (man I miss good sushi). I've also had email conversations with him over the name Cultimate and his concerns.



Meeting him I didn't sense the shrewd business sense, but I'll be honest, I don't detect this in anyone. I'm a bad read for business sense. The idea that an outside entity would swoop in and take over the College series is ...

Brilliant!!!

Sure, those of us who have been under the umbrella of the UPA feel it is a good entity that serves the Ultimate community well, but that's where the allegiance should end. Like all organizations, it forces us to pay fees, fill in forms, and swallow decisions made by the "representatives". It's still an entity that is in competition for Ultimate dollars, and for the last few years, the college seen has been full of potential.

Cultimate's move into this market is at a perfect time. Top teams in the college system should be getting benefits, and the UPA hasn't been active in this. Cultimate is offereing jersey subsidies, no tourney fees, there might get sponsorship in the future, and so on. It's a move in the right direction, and it might spark some healthy competition for how we do things.

So far, I've read some of the comments on RSD:

  • What about the other ~450 teams
  • We'll miss out on Cinderella teams
My feeling is so what. If this is really an issue, then other conferences will pop up and we'll see a system like the NCAA basketball tournament emerge. Great. That, or maybe Cultimate will devise the brilliant concept held here in Football leagues, where teams get relegated up and down from conferences. Or, outsider qualifier tournaments like the Stanford qualifier allow teams to get into Conference 1. In other words, we're experiencing a mutation and the sport is evolving.

I do have concerns. I wonder if the teams that are in Conference 1 might be following a company that takes some of their rights away. In the long term, this might be a factor that hurts these colleges. I, also, wonder how Canadian teams will be left out in the cold. Still, that's ours/their faults for not focusing on the US competition and keeping our own exclusive tournaments. At least we have the CIS. The CIS you say, never heard of it...what about the CFL...that's what a good Canadian league can get you. On the other hand, maybe the big teams will lose out as new teams emerge in seperate leagues where the game evloves on different paths. Maybe those splinter leagues come up with a rule that makes the game more watchable.

I'm excited about this turn of events. I can see it now, myself, Match, Ambler, and you, sitting in one of those television studios with Greg Gumble hosting. We would be picking our brackets for who we think is going to win the Conference 1 Championship this year...then again, maybe not, but this stir should get things going.

PJ

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Calling a spade a spade and Ultimate a participation sport

I like the saying, "calling a spade a spade". It's useful to step back and reevaluate things I sometimes take for granted.

Pictured Above: The joys of Ultimate.

So, let's take a step back and look at the legitimizing of Ultimate. The sports still growing in terms of number of participants, nobody cares about our sport except participants, and many of us who participate don't even like to watch others play. So is it realistic to worry about legitimizing the sport.

Of course it is, we need to push forward and survive among the other distractions that are available. Ultimate has benefits. There's no use letting the sport stagnate. At least, that's an opinion. The question we should all ask is what advantages come legitimizing and growth. I leave this for another post or you guys to consider. Having thought about this myself, I would argue growth in the sport mainly benefits a few unless it's taken from a slow and well thought out growth.

The other thing about legitimizing Ultimate is what does that mean. My earlier points were looking at legitimizing the sport with respect to getting it recognized and watched. This is only one path to legitimizing. I would prefer to see Ultimate legitimized through, again, the slow process of growth in participation. I feel that Ultimate's strength is as a participation sport where a certain type of person really enjoys the game.

That's what I see in Ultimate. I think too many of us want to accelerate this progression too fast hoping evolution through random mutations takes us to the right spot. This will, likely, result in some fundamental change to the sport that wrecks its' strength.

PJ

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tula Wins 3rd Canadian University Championship

The University of Toronto, Torontula, Open won a third Canadian University National championship in a row, and the fourth in our history as a team. Some of us have been talking, and there's a feeling that this is the best one yet, and I wasn't even involved. I guess it's that sense satisfaction for building something and seeing it maintain itself at the high standard. Of course, I've only been away for a year, and time will tell with the program. That, and if I get a Professor job in Montreal (McGill) as it's one of my potentials in the Northeast, than Tula better watch out ;)

Pictured Above: Torontula winners out in Alberta.

The thing about programs, wherever and whatever activity they are in, is that they're maintained by the efforts of the members. This is true until the institution obtains a status where it becomes bigger than just a group of people that get together to play, do, and compete.

Let's look at Torontula as a case example and try an evaluate what it needs to become self maintaining. Torontula was established as a team in 1997. In Ultimate terms, that gives it some sort of history. The team has specific traditions (at least the Open team) that are repeated yearly. Some of these are:
  • Didn't get cut party - a celebration of everyone making the club
  • Buddy system - an undeerstanding that at tournaments and parties there is someone you're watching out for
  • Velvet and Velour party - a season ending celebration in unique materialed outfits
These traditions change over the years, but they make the club feel like there's something special about belonging to the team.

Torontula has a logo that hasn't changed significantly over the years. This is a branding element that people see and recognize. Torontula also has championships, which gives people the sense that it's a winning program.

That's many things helping push the team forward, but it's not an institution that is guaranteed to last into the future. There are a number of reasons for this, but for dynasty college sports (football, basketball, etc.) teams are built around pillars, and those pillars again are the people (fans, administration, and coaches). In Torontula's case, people are only in the system for a matter of four years. To make these systems last the first step is getting a long term coach in place, and this costs money to draw and keep these people. Then as the program develops maybe the fans will come (highly unlikely in Canada).

That's the next step that college teams need to take to keep up there systems and get better recognized. These are early days in Ultimate, and there's a small window of opportunity to make your school a giant.

I've thrown my applications out to McGill, University of Michigan, Waterloo, Boston University, and University of Minnesota (and others). Hopefully, one of these schools will hire me (as a professor not as a coach) and I can be one of the people helping a program grasp that window of opportunity. I'm hoping to be in this next wave of building some dynasties.

PJ

Friday, October 10, 2008

Link Friday - Kill mode, HDR photography, and The Big Box

My favourite links this week are:

PJ

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Poll Thursday - Our correct predictions and the last set of regional polls

Our selections of regionals winners by majority vote are:

  • Ring of Fire - Mid-Atlantic Open
  • Backhoe - Mid-Atlantic Women
  • Amp - Mid-Atlantic Mixed (still qualified)
  • O.L.D.S.A.G. - Mid-Atlantic Masters
  • Barrio - Southwest Mixed
  • Old in the way - Southwest Masters
  • Sockeye - Northwest Open
  • Fury - Northwest Women
  • Shazam Remains - Northwest Mixed
  • Troubled Past and Throwback - Northwest Masters
  • Chain Lightning - South Open (qualified in second)
  • Ozone - South Women
  • Chewbacca Defense - South Mixed
  • Mileage - South Masters
  • Pop - Central Women
  • Alpha Cobra Squad - Central Mixed
  • Surly - Central Masters
  • Ironside - Northeast Open
  • Slow White - Northeast Mixed
This makes us 8/10 for top spots in the region and 10/10 for picking qualifiers.

We'll complete the regional predictions this week (poll right).

PJ

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Pull noise - spirited?

At this years Worlds, a number of teams, including our team, began what I call the pull noise taunt. It's similar to what teams do in basketball when they try and distract the person taking the free throw. In our case, once our team pulled the disc on defence, a chant would start and the team would yell when the receiver was about to catch the disc (hoping it would cause a turn).

Pictured Above: Old U.K. nationals action between Flump and Brighton 2.

Our team didn't start the tournament with this in place, but it was something the team adopted after playing some teams that were doing the same to us.

Does this sort of behaviour belong in Ultimate?

As a player, I don't really mind heckles since I don't find I hear them. Many players will say the same thing, so maybe that means the taunt is fine in the game. However, it's unlikely that we are all immune to the taunt all the time, and there are probably people who will be affected by the taunt in many situations.

In reality, it's bad spirit to taunt the pull - sideline or field. You're not supposed to yell when a person is about to catch it on the fly, so this should translate to the rest of the game. Even if all teams were taunting the pull, we should have taken the higher ground and refrained from our own taunting. Something to think about next time.

PJ

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Defensive brilliance - is it a show?

Baseball statistical analysis has made out Jeter to be a great defensive player (under certain systems). Some commentary, including this analysis, makes out that his statistical defensive strength is mainly because he can't get to the ball to make the big plays.

Pictured Above: Jeter gets to this one.

I would argue that the opposite happens in Ultimate. First off, we don't take many statistics, and those that we do are primitive (due to resources among other factors). Instead, I find we make some defenders greater than they are because of the big plays they make; however, some of these big play makers can be weak on general defense, and the big play results from not being able to shut down their man.

I'm not saying that this is the case if a player tends to make big defensive plays, but it's something to watch for on your team. Pay special attention if these plays are off poaches, and then question how many times does your team get burnt on bad poaches versus the number of big defensive plays.

One of the challenges with playing strong team defense is that the big defensive play rewards an individual with glory (one of those motivators I mentioned in an earlier post). For those who are glory hungry, this feedback can result in a hunger for big Ds over good team defense. Meanwhile, the unsung defensive heroes can be displaced from starting lines because they don't have the big reputation.

Finally, don't give up on these players. They can make the big play, which is valuable, but push their development towards strong shutdown defense that picks the right times to go for the big play.

PJ

Monday, October 06, 2008