Friday, February 20, 2009

Link Friday - Why we play, math minds, and banking humorless

There are some good links out there:

  • [Featured Blog] check out Lion-Shark: An Ultimate Blog.
  • [Featured Tournament] is adding results to tournaments (for example Disco Inferno). I'm hoping to see some integration with the score reporter, which is my preferred scoring database.
  • Excellent article on some thoughts on why we play Ultimate.
  • For those of you who've never understood implies well (one of those things that I never really got), take a look at this great book on "how to think like a mathematician". I don't know if this pdf will be around forever.
  • Finally, some humor that sadly is funny...


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Poll Thursday - Logo nogo, onto the College season

In the end:

  • UNT takes the college division. Either one or more supporters were willing to click and click again for the victory. That's commitment.
  • Blackfish edges out Monster in the open category.
  • Guillermo Y Compania takes the UPA championship category. If anyone has some pictures of the logo on their jersey, I would be interested in seeing it.
That being said, all of these logos on Jerseys would be interesting. My personal favourite (after my old favourite Sub Zero logo) is El Diablo's, and I'm glad they took the best of the rest round.

Sometime in the future I'll have a contest between these 3 finalists, but back to my standard poll questions: When do you think is reasonable time to run the next logo battle (poll right).


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

That Guy - Hidden Superstars

I've been quite busy with work and interviews, and sadly my dreams are filled with thoughts of simulated and annealing instead of Ultimate cuts and theory. For this reason, more of my ideas are coming in another field at present, so don't expect too much brilliance from me.

Fortunately, various readers pass on tips and articles that they think others might be interested in. If you're up for a long read, then check out this article on Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets (tip David Sheffield). I've only made it one page into the article, but the mood suggests we're getting into methods of identifying key players without the standard statistical or heroic play.

I've alluded to the other end of this problem in Ultimate. The guy who always gets the flashy D, but is likely poaching or gives away every other easy in cut. More important is identifying the quiet guys who shut down their man or make a key cut to open space. I'm sure we've all felt like we were doing the right things and not being acknowledged for it. The bigger question is how do coaches and teammates recognize these contributions, so the player isn't lost or deemed unworthy.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Link Friday - Very quiet on the link front

Pretty quiet on the link front, and I've been busy. My links this week are:

  • [Feature Tournament] - I'm heading off to Ohio for an interview soon, and one of the most famous tournaments from the area - Poultry Days.
  • An interesting up-date on Wisconsin/Sub Zero happenings here.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Poll Thursday - Logo Battle Finals

El Diablo wins the best of my rest from last week. Onto the finals:

College Division:
Caltech Women

Open Division:
Monster (Fall series)

UPA Championships:

Guillermo Y Compania
Alpha Cobra Squad


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Coaching Emulation - Part "A" of the equation

In the past few articles, I've been focusing on emulating coaches that you like to help you become a good coach. That's all good, but the one person you should really breakdown and emulate is - no not yourself - your best teachers. The teacher that inspired you and taught you how to do something so you understood it after working at it for a while uses key skills that you'll need to be a good coach.
The reason that teaching is so important is a huge portion of coaching, at the level we will likely coach, will be teaching. This means, that you need to learn teaching skills to the range of learners out there. You have to motivate them to learn. You have to push them through the tough times. Probably hardest of all, you have to break down skills into teachable parts. It's not easy.

I've had a number of teachers throughout my life. No one in particular comes out as the best teacher to emulate, but collectively I've observed their approaches to teaching ad evaluated how successful they are.

If coaching is your goal, then start observing both the taught and teaching. These free observations can potentially show you how to approach the teaching side to coaching. Talk to teachers and ask them about common problems. How do you motivate? How do you convey difficult subjects? How much preparation do you need to do?


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

WINNER Announced - CO's first competition

As I posted in early November that I was having a contest for logo design for either The Friars or the blog (The Cultimate Opinion). Well, I chose a concept design by Matrhew Peerce as the winner. I'll be working on making some jerseys with this design and shipping one to Matt for his efforts. You can see a version of the logo below:

I liked the look of it, and I think a stain glass entry also would have caught my eye. I plan on making black jerseys with the logo on the front and some writing and a number on the back.

Congratulations Matt.

Also, if anyone comes up with a logo for the blog that I like, then I'll also send a shirt your way.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Link Friday - Hodag Jerseys and Jerkhacker

Links this week:


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Poll Thursday - Logo Battle prelude to the finals

Results are in. Yes they're fixed, but it's all in good fun, and it's more about exposing some of the logos you might see on the field around the world. I'll have the final poll next week.

In the college division:
UNT vs. Caltech Women - in the battle of the vote fix

In the open division:
Balckfish vs. Monster

In the UPA Championship Division:
Guillermo Y Compania vs. Alpha Cobra Squad

This week I'll have a vote for my personal favourites (minus GOAT and Sub Zero) that didn't make it further in the votes:

El Diablo

Ring of Fire

SD united



Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Statistical Coaches to Emulate - is it for Ultimate?

As much as I look to famous coaches to learn from them, the ones I really get excited about are ones such as Billy Beane of the Oakland A's who was made even more famous with the book "Moneyball". These are the guys who leverage science and mathematics to get an advantage in sport.

The new coach for the Detroit Lions NFL team, Jim Schwartz (this article) , fits into this category as the guys who study the numbers and its relation to the games they're involved with. This area of sport application fascinates me. I hope to make the field one of my research streams as I become a faculty member at a University.

Does it apply to Ultimate? Well, one challenge, as many have discussed before, is the lack of collected data for our sport. Baseball, the favourite for sabermetric research, is a game with many head to head battles that can be quantized. Football has clear stoppages that also can be quantified. Smooth flowing, lower scoring games such as hockey, football (soccer), and Ultimate are harder to quantize.

Flowing sports tend to place more value on systems and human intuition in analyzing what and how to achieve goals. Is there a way to capture this intuition quantitively? I have some ideas, but the unknown makes this area fascinating. Thoughts? Collaborations?


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Coaching by emulating

Last week I talked about becoming a coach and some simple advice on the process. If you're interested in coaching Ultimate and you do what I do with my interests, then you search out information and people to emulate who have success in the area. For example, when I was in love with basketball, I used to read autobiographies for players and coaches in search of what made them great. I, clearly, remember reading anything I could find on Zen Budhism because of Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Unfortunately, in Ultimate we don't have a huge range of people to emulate (with the exception of a few such as Tiina Booth, Michael Baccarini, and Matty Tsang) and the few we do, we're not likely to have regular access to. This reminds me of two of the autobiographies I read in my basketball days - Pat Riley's and Phil Jackson's.

My feeling with these autobiographies is they may give you some nuggets on how to manage superstars, but as I previously discussed we're not likely to be coaching in that domain. Instead, we might want to be looking to emulate coaches at lower levels.

One article I read was about Pat Summit. She seems like a great candidate to study. She took over the Tennessee ladies basketball team and has built a program that stands supreme in the world of College sports.

The best quote from the article is:
“This job is all about the relationships,” Summitt said, “so obviously that’s rewarding.”

This fits into the ways to coach. The article is a good starting point into summit, but next, I'll have to see if I can find some information on her program and how it was built. I'll see if I can get my hands on "Reach for the Summit" and "Raise the Roof". These two books were written by summit and will give some insight into her ways. Unfortunately, my time is limmitted.


Monday, February 02, 2009

London Snow and Renewed Faith in Synchro Team Warmup

Two days short of my first year in London, it's snowing today and the snow is staying on the ground. So much so that the city is grinding to a halt. On my walk to work, I was reminded of the time when Toronto had a snow storm and had to call in the Army. I was living in Ottawa at the time, and we had a great laugh at Toronto's expense. Well today, all snow ridden northerners around the world can have a good laugh at London.

The two funniest things I saw on my way to work today were snow clearing and snowmen. First, for anyone familiar with snow as a child, we've learned to make snowmen in a certain way. The key is starting with a small ball, and rolling it around to pick up more snow until you have one of the classic 3 balls for the snowman. Of course, as Calvin and Hobbes has taught us, snow art has many paths. However, the snow in London is perfect for such a snowman construction, and yet the five snowmen I saw on my way to work were all more of a piling of snow where clearly they were looking for classical construction.

Even funnier was some of the tools that people were using to clear their snow away. Obviously, there's no need to keep a snow shovel for the one or two days of snow a year in London. Still, a shovel of some sort seems appropriate (garden shovel?). Anyway, the first person I saw used a 2 foot by 4 foot board of plywood. This was the effective person. Next, I saw a person clearing about 50 meters of side walk in front of a hotel with a dust pan. Finally, my favourite was a women cleaning here tiled front stairs with a mop and some water. I can only imagine what will happen when the front freezes.


On a more to topic note, I've been wondering about team warmups where the attempt is made to warmup all together. At UofT we used to enforce our warmup run in double file. Lately, I've been of the mind that team warmups should be left to individuals so that they can prepare in their own way and for their own body.

Well, research is suggesting that I'm wrong and that some for of synchronizing leads to better teamwork. I'm back on the team warmup wagon.