Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Football without Playbooks

There must be something in training quarterbacks and how that relates to training throwers in Ultimate. Other than learning the throws, the throwing situation comes down to reading a play and deciding the best option before looking for a reset. Quarterbacks have a similar situation where they're under pressure, are looking for the best option, and can reset by throwing the ball away. One question is how can you practice these reads given both the defence and offence know the plays for practice.

Pictured Above: Doug Flutie.

I found this article on Quarterbacks coming into the Texas Tech Program in 2005. The coach ran a system where there's no preset play book, and at each practice plays are drawn up and run through repeatedly. Over time the quarterbacks and offensive players learn the plays based on experience as opposed to attempting the transition.

This approach could be applied to Ultimate, and instead of the preset playbook, which most of the teams I coached and played on used, plays could be designed by both halves of the practice squad and run over the practice. Some of the benefits to this approach are:
  • Players learn to internalize plays very quickly
  • Field flow will be less mechanic, and hopefully, there will be more creativity
  • The errors in running a play will better simulate the general flow of Ultimate
  • As described earlier, throwers will need to read different situations from one practice to the next
  • The defense will always be on its toes, not knowing what comes next
  • Team repetoir for plays will expand instead of relying on the old standbyes
Also, as the article suggests, trying different plays suggested by all walks on the team might lead to some great new ideas. I think Idris wrote this once (but I could be paraphrasing or citing wrongly), "an offence is usually most suited to the person who created it". A per practice offence will avoid this pitfall if all ideas are taken.

Finally, the best quote in the article that rings true in my head is, "There's that Don Henley line about why the Eagles were good: They had a great capacity for boredom". If you can take that advice to heart then you're teams headed in the right direction.