Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday Links - Back to the Future Part II

Other than the news about Gaia (from Steven), my links this week are from the past:


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Poll Thursday - Logo Battle V

Illinois State, Monster, and Sub Zero move into the next round. The UPA championship division is complete, so we'll just have to finish off the other divisions (and the Open division is likely in it's last round this week).

This week:

College Division


Open Division

Stockholm Syndromes
SD United
Disco Inferno


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

My own attempt at conscious breathing

Apparently, we care about breathing. Some interesting comments were added to yesterday's post, and today, after recovering from a little food poisoning, I was back on the treadmill. I decided to focus on some breathing exercises, and I thought I would give you a little personal experimentation perspective.

At present, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I run for about 30 minutes at a certain rate increasing the elevation .5% per five minutes (if I'm feeling strong). Today I ran at 11.3 km/h plugged into the treadmill's television watching some show called "the class" (I think). There were a few really funny moments in the sitcom, which resulted in me laughing out loud on the treadmill, and these moments made interesting challenges for breathing and running.

Back to the breathing... My plan was to work on breathing for parts of the run and see how easy it was. I was looking to use the 2 step inhale, 2 step hold, and 4 step exhale. Well, actually, I started with the 2 step inhale, 2 step hold, and 2 step exhale. That was a disaster since I couldn't seem to get enough air in my lungs to hold the rhythm for more than 30 seconds. Once I established the first rhythm with an aggressive 4 step exhale, I found I could keep the rhythm going for about 2 minutes. I suspect this aggressive exhaling sounded funny to other people in the gym. I didn't look, but I'm sure some people were concerned that I may be dying every five minutes or so.

I did about 4 of these breathing exercises over the thirty minute run, and during them felt awkward in breathing, but strong in running. It reminded me of my days on a swim team where you would freestyle swim for so many strokes without taking a breath. In the cool down, I did one more breathing exercise and found it significantly easier. My guess is that the less stress during the cool down meant my body wasn't in such high demand for oxygen and adapted easily to the breathing rhythm.

The other thing I paid attention to for the run was what seemed to be my natural breathing pattern. I'm not sure if there's a Heisenberg effect (where once you try to observe then what you're trying to observe changes), but I found I breath at roughly a 2 step inhale and 2 step exhale. There's no holding stage in my breathing. Also, I tend to breath through my mouth, and some of the literature is suggesting breath through your nose for calming effects.

Something to work on to make those 30 minute runs a little more interesting. Though the sitcoms in the morning on the treadmill are quite good, and if I can't get one that gets that specific channel then I get to watch cricket. It all makes the run a little less mind numbing.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Proper Gasping

This week might be a little light. I was sick yesterday, and I'm pretty busy on getting ready to head back home for Holidays.

Yesterday on the treadmill, I was running at a fair pace, and at one point I started to wonder how I should be breathing. I've read and heard about the importance of breathing, and what better time to practice it while on a repetitive treadmill run. I tried a few methods such as mouth and nose, mouth in then nose out, nose in mouth out, etc. In other words, I had no clue what was best.

I'm even worse in the gym when it comes to core exercises, pull ups, and push ups. For these exercises I'm holding my breath for much of the contractions.

Like in all these matters, the web has a range of resources on the topic:

The second article is particularly interesting as it mentions how you should be breathing. I'll work on this the next time I'm in the gym, and try to have it as part of my repertoire for the coming season.


Thursday, December 11, 2008

Poll Thursday - Logo Battle IV

Note, there's still time to enter your teams logo (except in the UPA Champ division unless I get 3 next week).

Moving on from last week are: Falmouth University, Downtown Brown, and Guillermo Y Compania.

This weeks entries (polls right):

College Division

Dickinson College

Illinois State
University of Guelph

Open Division

Monster (Fall Series)


UPA Champs Division - last round due to limited submissions

Seattle Riot



Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Breaking news - Study shows warmups are important

It's one of those days when two posts have to go out, and you will all find it hard to believe, but finally, it has been proven that warmups are important. Check out the article here.

Pictured Above: A warmup plan used in the study.

Okay, so maybe this isn't so shocking, but what the article does provide that might be useful is an actual warmup plan. The article describes the warmup program as a combination of:
These ideas maybe useful for developing your own team warmup, but note that the results have caveats in that the studied group was female footballers aged 13-17 and it is unclear that these results apply to other sexes, age groups, or sports. Still, based on what I learned at last years UCPC injury prevention talk by Jamie Nuwer and June Srisethnil, these ideas seem to have merit.


Prevent Injury and Enhance Performance Program
Exercise Distance Time
1. Warm-up
Jog line to line 50 yd 1
Shuttle run 50 yd 1
Backward running 50 yd 1
2. Stretching
Calf stretch NA 2 × 30 s
Quadriceps stretch NA 2 × 30 s
Hamstring stretch NA 2 × 30 s
Inner thigh stretch NA 2 × 30 s
Hip flexor stretch NA 2 × 30 s
3. Strengthening
Walking lunges 20 yd 2 passes
Russian hamstring NA 30 s
Single-toe raises NA 30, bilaterally
4. Plyometrics
Lateral hops 2- to 6-in cone 30 s
Forward hops 2- to 6-in cone 30 s
Single-legged hops 2- to 6-in cone 30 s
Vertical jumps NA 30 s
Scissors jumps NA 30 s
5. Agilities
Shuttle run 40 yd 1
Diagonal run 40 yd 1
Bounding run 45-50 yd 1

NA, not applicable.

We don't need psychiatrists, but do we need coaches?

A few posts back I showed an article on Great Britain's cycling psychiatrist. I suggested that our sport probably doesn't need psychiatrists in its present state. This week I thought I would punch myself where it hurts, and as the question - do we need coaches in this sport?

Pictured Above: Cito Gaston and the brain trust.

My thoughts on this topic came up from this article. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the original studies, but the basic premise (without the study) of the article is questioning the benefit of managers vs. the superstar in baseball. The results from the article suggest that managers can have a greater impact on a baseball team than stars.

Unfortunately, we don't have a huge range of statistics on Ultimate to do a similar study, but we can ask the question (how useful is a coach). As in all our discussions, we need to consider some variables such as the level that the coach is working at, and what the coach brings to the table compared to the player/captains, and the experience of the coach.

First off, I believe the player/captain can do all the activities of the coach except when they are on the field playing. While on the field the captains can't watch the bigger picture game, and I argue, that the big picture game is a process that is hard to do while playing. The nature of the game means that players get tired, have to worry about there own game, and focus on details such as the last play. So, from a simple argument, I believe the coach can provide a benefit over captains doing the various organizational jobs.

Still, how important are coaches/managers in Ultimate? Here are a list of activities that coaches can do, and my opinion if a coach will change the game result regardless of playing level:
  • Call lines - slight advantage
  • Make team strategy adjustments - slight advantage
  • Deal with player adjustments - advantage
  • Identify opponent plans - slight advantage
I'm sure there's more items on this list, but that's a starter list for now.

I think the coach helps in Ultimate, but like all positions the coach needs experience on the job, and will make mistakes. The benefit for the captain can be significant (minus the pain of letting go of control), and if this person is your star or stars, then the impact is even more significant. If an Ultimate coach make more significant an impact than a star-player is still questionable. Ultimate sits in between baseball and basketball in terms of individuals impact on the game (arguing stars in basketball can takeover a game), so I'm not sure how the coach impacts Ultimate. Something to think about.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

More zone 2 chess analysis

In my continued attempt to connect some of the techniques in chess strategy and tactics to ultimate, I've evolved the model to the next step. This time, we'll use the chess board and the players on the board to evaluate the merits and flaws of different zones. This seems reasonable based on chess being a warlike simulation.

Figure 1: Shows a 3-3-1 zone.

Figure 1, shows an oversized chess board (that attempts to represent a field) with kings in a representation of the 3-3-1 classic cup zone. The red arrows indicate which throws a king can stop, and the transparent red dots show what discs a defender could, likely, get too. The radius of this distance decreases as the player gets closer to the disc (the deep could arguably have a larger radius).

The interesting thing is the figure shows some of the weak spots in this type of zone. These weak spots are clear squares on the board. Also, we can see the concept of a loose piece. The right mid has no immediate support meaning they can be attacked by a fork.

Figure 2: a 1-3-2-1 zone.

Trying the same thing with a zone we will call the 1-3-2-1 (wall like structure), Figure 2 shows what might be weaknesses against this zone. It is clear that the additional players in the front makes it harder to break the cup as more of the squares around the cup are doubly covered with overlap.

The clear squares show there is some weakness over the wall, but three defensive players approach those points (meaning this will need to be a fast throw). Also, it seems clear that a swing across the field will be hard, but worth a serious gain in distance.

Figure 3: 3-3-1 in a arrow formation

Next, Figure 3 shows the 3-3-1 in an arrow head formation (know as chinch, arrowhead, etc.). Here, it appears that the middle is completely covered, which isn't really the case. Is the model failing? Partially, but this is a static position. Most teams would use this zone emphasizing that they don't want the disc to go around the outside and they want the attacks in the middle. This means that the areas covered would favor one direction over the other, and this would show lower probability to cover short attacks through the middle.

Based on my early view, this tool seems to be reasonable in evaluating zones. I'll try to refine the model over the coming weeks.


Friday, December 05, 2008

Link Friday - CUPA Online Magazine, Blockstack, and a Time line

Links this week:

  • Here's CUPA's latest online magazine. I'm happy to see it's online. I question whether these should just be blogs. That's a lot of work for a small audience.
  • Blockstack's latest episode - the latest UK events in video format.
  • A time line of the earth in picture form

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Poll Thursday - Logo Battle III

Just a reminder to get your logo entries in before the end of the first round of polls. All entries accepted.

The logos moving on from last week are: Caltech, DoJo, and El Diablo

This week the entries are (polls right):

College Division
Falmouth University
Concordia University
Central Michigan University

General Division

Fieldston Ultimate
Down Town Brown
Black Angus

UPA Champ Division
Guillermo Y Compania


Wednesday, December 03, 2008

and now something completely different - Chess

I'm pushing the limits of taking external ideas and applying them to Ultimate. As of recent, I was just reviewing some chess tactics. Why? You got me, but it got me thinking.

So, what made up connection have I made with Ultimate and Chess? Well, it all comes down to a major part of chess tactics - the double threat. In chess, the concept of the double threat ocurres when you've made a move such that your opponent must choose between one threat or the other.

The "double threat" very simply applies to Ultimate. One application that I taught this weekend was how the double threat can be used to attack the mids in a zone. The further extension from chess to Ultimate is one particular type of double threat, which is the fork (knight fork is shown in the picture above). A fork is when a knight, queen, or bishop is in a position to attack two of the opponents pieces. The same is true for many ultimate tactics where offensive players fork to attack a mid position deep and short (or left and right). Technically, this is more similar to the "discovered attack" in chess, but the basic concept seems to come accross better with the fork; you're attacked at two points at the same time.

The tactics of Ultimate and chess have some more similarities. I find the best use of these similarities can be used to define tactics in Ultimate so that we can all understand what's being talked about. For example, the Ultimate term, "dump and swing" used between two Ultimate players allows us to express a series of throws and handler positions in only 3 words.

Here's some terms that you might find useful from chess:

  • Double Threat - as discussed above, this is when an offensive player is attacked by two or more threats simultaneously.
  • Fork - a double threat attack where the attack happens in opposite directions.
  • Loose piece - a defensive player in a zone that has been stranded (in terms of distance) from defensive help.
  • Tactics - a means to attack by forcing the opponent into situations where you have the advantage.
  • Strategy - creating the best opportunities based on positions.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Teaching Zones - More ideas needed

It was a little cold this weekend in London, and I didn't get a chance to go through my entire progression for teaching a zone. For the number of times I've taught zones, I still don't have a great progression on how to teach the concepts of zone in a bottom up progression of drills and concepts.

Pictured Above: A zone break in action for Limited Release playing Brighton.

It's not the case that I don't have good points to teach about zones. It's more an issue of how do you take a team go from square one to team knows how to play zone.

I have two thoughts on this situation. One, zone is just one of those things that is a top down concept, where you learn some very simple guidelines, and then, you have to experience the zone from both an offensive and defensive player to get a feel for what to do. With repetitions and some steering, a team will learn the philosophies of a particular zone and over time things improve. The alternative, two, is that I just haven't thought about a progression enough, to establish a series of bottom up drills to progress through teaching a zone.

Thoughts? I'm looking for ideas to put into writing.