Monday, September 19, 2005

"In your head" mistakes

Even if I can't always specify it, I have what I think is a pretty good decision-making algorithm in my head for evaluating throw choices (sometimes I ignore it in the early part of the season in order to improve my throws, but I tone it back as the season progresses, shutting it down if necessary in the end). But I find myself prone to a certain bias that throws it off sometimes. I'll call it the "in your head" bias.

Simply put, you get an idea in your head, and the next time the opportunity arises, you take it. I can go weeks without throwing a scoober, but if I throw one, I have to throw a second, preferably on the same point.

There are at least three variations on this theme:
  • I just completed one, let's try another
  • I just looked off one, I better try this one
  • This is the play call, it's probably a good idea

I just completed one, let's try another. The only remedy I can think of for this is to be aware of it and thus create a bias AGAINST the second throw to cancel the "in your head" bias. The second try might just not be a good idea because the circumstances may have been more favorable on the first try, or the defender might be expecting it (break me with a scoober once, shame on you, etc.).

I just looked off one, I better try this one. I sometimes put extra pressure on myself because I'm one of the guys the team looks to to create offense, and I feel like I should be able to overcome a non-optimal cut. (This happens more often in recreational play, to be sure, but also with my club team.) Solution: again, just don't do it. Just yell, "Sorry, too close" and look for the next option (or, in rec play, accept that it's going to be a non-optimal pass and hope for the best).

This is the play call, it's probably a good idea (or "this is the offense"). We have a certain huck play, and we forced it at least three times this weekend (out of maybe six times it was called) when the thrower probably would not have thrown it had the cut arisen in the course of normal flow offense. Look, the play is NOT "throw it deep"; it's "throw it deep if the cut is there." This starts getting tricky when it happens a lot, because then the play or the basic offense may be flawed because it produces a lot of these questionable choices. Solution: don't throw it and look for the alternative. If the play has no alternative, discuss one with the strategists. Afterwards, think about whether you made the right choice, what the critical variables were in forming your decisions, and what would have been necessary for you to have changed your decision.

PS. #99, with a 15-12 win over Twisted Metal in the finals, x-3 ish in each of the prelims. The finals was a steady building toward a 5 goal lead, then a couple breaks at the end before finishing them off. They're not the DoG Lite that Snapple + begats were, so there is more dramatic tension in the games.


mick said...

This is really good advice. I find myself making all of these mistakes... So you really actively think about not making these sort of throws? I'm going to have to try this.

BTW the one that kills me most is the, "I didn't throw it last time, I should this time". Somehow I fool myself that last time I didn't throw it because of a lack of confidence or something and I feel I have to give it a go the next time. This is really stupid though. I mean, I need to learn to think about the reasons I don't throw one. Often these aren't so dumb. Maybe one of the defenders is lurking in my peripheral, the cutter is coming too slow, there's an inconsistent wind. All of these little things make a difference in the second that you make the decision to throw, all of them take a away a little confidence. All of them are a good reason not to throw the disc!!!

mick said...

I was thinking a bit more about your program and I realised that in one of my old teams did a collective version of the same thing...

We had 2 consistent problems in O, both due to bad decision making on tricky throws. These were:

1. Throws down the line. Easily defended, though sometimes useful for making ground.

2. Some experienced handlers zipping it into the endzone with 50/50 throws after we had made some quick yards downfield.

Problem 1: this problem was easy to fix, we just made it a team rule that no-one was ever to throw down the line. Problem fixed. Basically, if anyone looke like throwing something iffy down the line, 15 guys would scream out "TEAM RULE!". If they still threw it they were facing the torture of 1000 wedgies or something similar.

Problem 2. This problem is common. The thing is that it is often the right thing to do, get the defence on the hop and then huck it, plenty of teams do it and it can work well. The problem was that our long game wasn't so great. People who were experienced in the team were used to having some tall fast long guys that could take anything hucked in there direction, so it wasn't so bad to throw the speculator. We countered this problem by practicing a "call" that we called "windows". Basically, if we had made a break and it looked like the point was on, everyone would yell out "WINDOWS", in an attempt to reset the handlers brain and make them think twice about the throw. It just cooled everyone down and reminded them what their job on the field was.

Both of these things worked really well. We went from being a team that turned it over all the time in the endzone to being a team that almost never did.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mick, long time no see. How's Austria? Unfortunately, the Lovers have discovered new ways to turn it over at the endzone - hammers are the weapon of choice these days...

Back to the original post, I think I can add another couple of variations, both of which I fall into at times:

4. It's my favourite throw, I don't need a great cut to throw to.
This is the one where you have a throw that you're good at, and you usually complete it in games, but no one's cutting for it. All of a sudden, someone makes a half-cut to the right place and you think "right, I'm gonna nail this". Usually seems to happen with the IO break or with the hammer.

5. The space is there, but no one sees it.
This one occurs when the marker is a little out of position, or the short deep is a bit too close, or some other positioning errors from the D and you can see a great hole that you want to throw to. Unfortunately, your team don't seem to see it. You wait for a few seconds, then you see someone move in that area at a jog. The turnover comes because either you put it where you think they *should* be, or you try to nail them with a pinpoint pass to the chest and screw it up.

My 2 cents.

mick said...

Um, Jim. I think the aussies have discovered your blog...

johnny mac - you need neo handling, with his crazy hammers to the endzone in a golden point in finals. they never miss, though our heartbeats all go high enough for us to lose a few years off the end of our lives. i guess he isn't playing with you guys now.

Dennis said...

This reminds me of the one DoG player (defensive) who used to throw too many sharp-angle, low-to-the-ground, forehand inside outs.
After one of them missed the mark, he said aloud to himself, "I have to learn how to throw that."
We shouted back: "No, you have to learn how to NOT throw that!"

parinella said...

Um, Jim. I think the aussies have discovered your blog...
Ok, then, for your benefit, next post will be on bestiality.

As for actively thinking about it, well, sometimes. I will think "boy, I got away with one there, don't throw it", but more likely, it'll come up a second time and I'll decide after THAT one not to throw it a third time. And sometimes I'm able to subconsciously ignore the questioning voices that say "you really ought to throw that" when the primary decision maker thinks it's a bad idea, but that happens more because I'm caught in the moment instead of overthinking.

zaz said...

I think you've identified something real: that we are prone to explore an idea that is already in our head. You identified three ways of getting it there (having done it, having not done it, having heard it called). There are others. At CHC nee Tune-Up, I launched a miserable backhand huck against a straight-up mark, a consequence of a conversation a week prior regarding throwing hucks against a mark. That throw was in my head from far off the field (and, perhaps not coincidentally, *traveled* far off the field). Another issue to explore: if something is in our head, will we play it so self-consciously that our execution is worse?