Thursday, July 14, 2005

drills, good and bad

In general, I don't like drills, because they usually seem stupid to me. They take too much time while doing little, they teach bad habits, or they're too basic.
Drills I like:
  • 3 on 3 on a mini-field. Lots of touches, cutting, and high stall count passes, no chance to hide.
  • Seegerball or any of its variants. Any game involving two teams, a field, and multiple balls/discs. Teaches fast break offense, O and D with man advantages, and evaluating risky strategies. And fun, too, especially if there is violence involved.
  • Some version of the cutting drill. This is the only conventional drill on the list, where you have lines of people doing about the same thing. I like it because it focuses on a technique that includes decision-making rather than just mechanics.

Drills I hate:
  • The endzone drill. Dump, swing, loonnng cut from the back, repeat. Especially bothersome when you add defense or require x completions in a row. ALTERNATIVE: split up into two teams, flip the disc 10 yards out, one team is on O and the other is on D.
  • The endzone drill. I hate it that much, it deserves two places.
  • The comeback drill. Two lines, one player cuts, throw the disc. Zook! Thwack! It's only mildly better when you cut at an angle. Barely tolerable when a marker is added. ALTERNATIVE: poke your eye with a needle.
  • Any drill where you add an incentive (an extra minute on an Indian run for everyone on the team, say) that changes the way people do the drill. For instance, take the drill where one player runs back and forth for 90 seconds and the other throws him leading passes. Without that incentive, I try to work on useful but difficult passes, say, pretending the mark is all over me and I have to stretch out to get the pass off. But with that incentive, I'm much more likely to take the "100%" pass that I don't need to work on. ALTERNATIVE: reduce the penalty, or eliminate it while stressing the mental images that make the drill good.

Good drills: get lots of reps, offer a chance to reflect on whether you did the right thing or not, require decision-making, fatigue you, mimic some aspect of ultimate.

Bad drills: have lots of down time, have poorly-designed incentives, have an easy way to get around the purpose of the drill, simulate something artificial.

Maybe it's just the way that my mind works, but I can instantly see the flaws in and ways to get around a drill that someone else designs.


luke said...

seegerball? is this the sport of the new millenium? how many goals, teams?

the mini game is great... make it take it right?

also, is a box of varying sizes, up to, but not usually field size, and 10 completions is 1 point.

for elite players, you might change the number.

parinella said...

Approximate rules of Seegerball: two teams of 7-15, two 6' x 6' goals about 40 yards apart, two soccer balls or dodgeballs. Advance the ball by passing. Can also take two steps after catching (allowed to change momentum). Object is to place ball down in opposite goal. Tackle defense near the goal is allowed. No standing in or running through the goal. An incompletion is a live ball, but must be kicked into someone's hands in order for it to be touched by hand. So named because Seeger once suggested that ultimate would be better if you could run with the frisbee after catching, but if you were tagged short of the endzone it's a turnover.

3 on 3 on a mini field, make it take it, no pause between goals.

Edward Lee said...

Maybe elite teams are so good at catching that the comeback drill is useless for them, but I think college teams still need this sort of practice. It's probably a lot more useful if players are able to concentrate on different catching techniques (leading edge vs. trailing edge, one-handed, etc.) without getting yelled at.

Mitch said...

The comeback drill on a college team in the winter before cuts are made, and you can only stop after completing 50 flicks in a row.

All it teaches is that frisbee sucks.

Idris said...

The endzone drill. Dump, swing, loonnng cut from the back, repeat. Especially bothersome when you add defense or require x completions in a row.

Do people actually do this at practice? Teams I've played have and do use it as part of a team warm up on Saturday or Sunday morning of a tournament to get some touches, some cuts, etc. Seems good enough for that, I wouldn't think anybody wastes their time with it at a weekend or weekday practice. We're talking about practice... practice.

two preferred/used endzone drills:
1) the listed alternative of simply having an endzone only scrimmage
2) drill the skill of getting open on a guy in the endzone in/from different parts of the endzone (basically a 2v2, with a thrower/marker and cutter/marker)

usually #2 would be prefaced by explaining what "we" are looking for. then you can do #1 knowing how you are supposed to be scoring.

Anonymous said...

what cutting drill are you talking about in bullet point 3?

Bill Mill

Marshall said...

Does 10-pull count as a drill?

Some basic skills are easier and more useful to drill, I think, such as marking and mark-breaking where the reps are a long time apart during play, especially for people who touch the disc less often.

A drill I hate: almost every "flow" drill. All drills are somewhat artificial, but I find it virtually impossible to train flow timing in an un-defensed, two-or-three-line, you-go-now drill. Usually, you just end up training mechanical cutting (which I've read somewhere is bad).

Ironic use of the great AI quote, Idris.

doc said...

I seem to remember reading a semi-rant by Parinella that described the evils of the endzone dump/swing drill but i cant find it anymore.

From a middle-tier player's perspective (that would be mine) it seems like the drill simulates what is a pretty standard offensive strategy: swing the disc off the sidelines and get it to the other side of the field to change the angle of attack. Also works on timing cuts from the back of the stack. Yes? No? And while i dont have it in front of me at the moment, i see to recall U:T&T discussing this exact strategy.

I'll look for it when i get home. In the mean time, could someone either point me to the rant or re-rant?


parinella said...

Rant and discussion about the endzone drill.

I'm trying to concretize a regenerative endzone offense that doesn't rely on the old dump/swing/strike philosophy, which I don't like. Anyone have success with a different style?

Cutting drill: disc on the line being forced line (or no mark), one or two sets of cutters and defenders, cut to the line or go deep. There are a bunch of variations on this, but the key is to make it so that the cutters have a choice on the cut so the defense has to play honestly. I'm particularly anxious to try out the variation suggested by Idris in the next to last comment on this entry on decision making.

doc said...

Ok, so now that i think about it, using that as an "endzone" offense is predictable though it seems pretty effective on the break side.

What if you took the "endzone" part out of the drill and used it as a template for how the dump swing continue offense should work? I guess the value of drilling for that lessens the higher up the food chain you are.

parinella said...

Doc, that might work out. In UT&T (why don't you have a work copy AND a home copy, btw?), we sketched out 7 scenarios that are variations on the swing/strike, trying to show what the "correct" action in each case was, based on some small differences in the circumstances.

I think the mental hurdle that needs to be overcome is that endzone cuts are position cuts rather than yardage cuts. (This has only occurred to me in the last month or so.) The swing/strike model is a yardage model; a squirrel-cut model or a give and go model would be a position model. In the book, we suggest that a good endzone offense should be a subset of the team's regular offense.

Edward Lee said...

The quick scoober to the front guy in the stack is a useful endzone "position" move that isn't so useful in regular offense (since it doesn't gain many yards or create flow).

Are there other cuts and combinations that fit this description?

doc said...

The quick hitch to the front of the stack doesnt gain many yards but can certainly create flow... on the break side. My favorite throw off the tap in is the quick lefty (i'm one of *them*) break to the front of the stack, and off we go down the break side.

Edward Lee said...

Hard cut and step-around throw, sure.

What I was picturing was the thrower making eye contact with the receiver and then throwing the scoober immediately, maybe allowing the receiver a head fake or a one-step fake to the force side.