A loyal reader writes:
who have been the major influences in your ultimate career? from whom did you learn? were they players you emulated? opponents that forced you to get better? teammates who actively taught and coached you?
or is your style all your own, sprouting from your head like athena from zeus?
The short answer is, no one taught me nuthin', though I have learned from people, and that's why I am how I am, for better or worse.
One of the frisbee accomplishments that I'm most proud of is that I feel that I helped to create an open, almost academic atmosphere of knowledge sharing. Although some teams still guard their "ideas" and playbooks, you'll now find a lot of high-level players freely (or for $19.95 from Human Kinetics!) passing down whatever they know about the game to whoever wants to listen.
You kids today don't know how lucky you have it. I can't remember a single piece of direct instruction or advice from the first 10 years of my career. (Of course, there have been times in my life when you couldn't tell me anything.) There was always some general team-level strategy, but it never translated into "you need to do this or that, which you can do by implementing the following."
The two things that did help me were playing with and against some top players, and hanging out with Dennis and Alex (or maybe that's four things, depending on how you count it).
Playing with top players allows you to see repeatedly the things they do and the decisions they make, in a way that getting schooled 15-2 twice a year at tournaments does not. It also helps you get over your fear of them, and lets you think, "Hey, I can do that." You're also able to separate the truly top players from those who are simply good complements who would not stand out in weaker surroundings. One such standout that sticks in my mind as I write this is Jeremy Seeger, who was fundamentally perfect.
Playing and hanging out with the Tea Party in the years 1989-1994 was also important, as these were really my formative years in my understanding of the game. We talked about frisbee, we figured things out, we were able to try out the ideas on a good team. Even if we were just rehashing things others already knew (but were keeping secret!), it felt like we were on the cutting edge of technology, and it was exciting.
And I guess there is a third (or fifth) thing that made me me, and that is the writing. Having to describe what it was that I did forced me to think about it more, and to learn from it. You really need feedback in order to improve, and if it doesn't come from a teammate or opponent, you have to do it yourself.
Having said all that, I think some of the drills we've been using the last few years (but not that one you all know I hate) are good at teaching.