Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Players make plays

1. At some level, it doesn't matter whether you play horizontal stack, German, all-upside-down, or lefty lifts. If you make good passes, you'll score, and if you make bad passes, you'll turn it. All that the system does is to create more or fewer opportunities to make good or bad passes. Leaders are responsible for the system, players are responsible for execution.
2. If two teams are equal in talent, it's the team that makes the plays that will win. Sometimes those plays are just willing yourself to be open at stall 8, or selling a decoy cut to free up a long cut.
3. But more often, those plays are picking up your teammates when they make a sub-optimal play. This doesn't mean that you make hero throws or cut when you're not supposed to, but that you play heads up and balls out.
4. If you throw a pass that's incomplete, it's your fault. If a pass that is thrown to you is incomplete, it's your fault. If you're on the field and your teammate throws a high stall pass that's incomplete, it's your fault. If you're idle on the sidelines and a pass is incomplete because you could have seen something that might have made a difference, it's your fault. Because of all my talk over the years about root causes and team errors and "what's wrong with right here", I am probably most at fault for this attitude being part of the culture. But just make the play and shut up. The way it should have worked was that instead of blaming the guy at the sharp end, everyone involved should have realized that they contributed to the error. It shouldn't be, "Hey, the pass wasn't right at my gut, sorry I couldn't save you."


luke said...

when i saw the title, i thought it was 'bizzarro jim -- d guy' installment three.

how's the thingy w/ the codeword working out? where do i find that?

parinella said...

It's called the Word Verification Option.

Good, haven't had any "I heard about your blog. Click here for my porn site" since.

In the old days, and apparently in some places still, if you sprint for 40 yards and lay out check high and it nicks off the edge of your fingertip, it's considered a drop. I'm glad we've gotten people to realize that the thrower has more of a job to do than simply to give the receiver a chance, but maybe it's too far the other way now. It was never meant to absolve the guy who was merely the final step in a chain of minor errors, but to get the rest of the group to acknowledge that they could have improved the situation.

And it's mental, too. If you feel that you have to make the catch because it's your job to make the catch, you're more likely to make the catch.

Yuri Zelentsov said...

yes, I know exactly how it feels. I play in the team where most of the players are friends fom the same school and I am not. So whenever I make a mistake - it is my fault, whenever they make a poor pass and I don't get it - it's my fault. And the unnecessary pressure keeps on growing to the point that you think twice before making a cut to get open.

I am glad though that the coach established a rule that there must be no comments during the play.
Now I have freedom to try, and if I don't make it, at least I don't have that pressure and next time I'll try harder.

ringo said...

Well, it's about time. Jim is finally admitting that DoG's vaunted offensive and defensive schemes were meaningless (or not nearly as meaningful as ultimate lore would have one believe). During their run, DoG won games, in large part, because of their atheletes, not their schemes.

Querry: how good are DoG's atheletes this year?

Slightly off-topic:

It has ocurred to me that one of an athelete's gifts -- which might include the ability to jump high, run fast, or throw far -- is the ability to learn and play within a system. I have been thinking about this for a while. It always appeared to me that Boston had a huge number of "smart" players (not in the SAT sense, but in the sense that they could understand and play in the system). I'd love to get your perspective on whether you also think that is true or whether it just appeared that way because you had players/atheletes that could cover up any intelligence lapses.

Also, I know you are an O player to the core, but I wonder whether you would make any distinctions between the two groups in terms of ability to play within the system.

parinella said...

I could say that the old DoG system was brilliant because it realized that it had good players (not just athletes (and Ringo, just because you lived in the South for a few years doesn't mean that you should pronounce "athlete" with three syllables)) and so created lots of opportunities for them to make good throws while offering low-risk alternatives when the throws weren't there. At least that's my story.

I've always felt that the system designed itself by starting with good, field-smart players (who were also SAT-smart, by the way) and letting them figure out how to play rather than working to some predetermined structure. Problems later arose when the system had to be institutionalized but it was no longer optimally designed for the players, who were different from the originals (if not in name, then in age). To be sure, there have been changes over the years, but the basic structure now is about the same as it was in 1994.

But you are spot on that part of being an athlete is being able to learn and figure things out. And that certain teams might not consider that when evaluating players, focusing just on the raw things. From what I've read, this is partly what the Patriots have had so much success; they recruit good (but not great for the NFL) raw athletes who they think can learn.

parinella said...

And the O and the D had different systems for O and D. D squad systems were built more around frothing.

ringo said...

Sorry for the spelling faux pas. I'm crippled without a spell checker.

I've been thinking about Idris's question: "what do you do well." It seems that "I take instruction well, and I can learn systems" is an underrated answer.

As for the O and D, it makes sense that the D's O would be different from the O's O, and vice versa. What I was getting at is something slightly different. I think some players learn O or D systems better, and therefore can be bigger assets to one squad or the other. The question really is (and it requires you to remove that enormous O chip off your shoulder), do you think your D team could learn the O systems and vice versa. Can O players see the defensive shape of space? Can D players see the cutting lanes and the negative space? Is it physical or mental talent that makes an O or a D player?

luke said...

what about, as a response to idris' query, "I'm extremely lucky."

parinella said...

(O chip speaking): I always thought it was a _lack_ of talent that relegated a player to the D squad. But they all seem happy in their little world.

Perhaps someday they'll identify the gene that distinguishes O players from D players. It really does seem like a difference in mindset. I've been a fan of O in all sports since I was a little kid. But by now it's so ingrained in me that I have difficulty seeing a situation from the D angle.

Obviously, for some people like Alex, it's limited by physical attributes. For all the lack of raw physical talent he seems to exude (gee, too bad he's out of the country right now and might not ever read this), he's coordinated and he's good at things like tennis and ping-pong and pool. And there are good D players who just can't throw, who always just have an awkward motion.

I guess I'd say it's more mental, though. Players seem to be more naturally suited to playing either O or D. Some guys just never seem to figure out where to cut, while others just never seem to be able to anticipate a cut and are always reacting on defense, even if they're good cutters.

ringo said...

Luke, I think the only person (other than you and me) who can claim that as their best attribute for ultimate is Flash. Didn't he ro sham his way onto double (or was it jam)?

deepdiscthoughts said...

One of the mental differences that I've seen is "I need to prove I'm better than you" vs. "I'm better than you and there's nothing you can do to stop me."

This manifests itself in interesting ways, including the ability for an O player to remain confident even after failing because he thinks it was entirely his fault. That is, if I go out and play my game, we will score. Good mental O players just shrug it off and walk back to the line.

On D, the attitude manifests istelf in the ability to fail over and over and over again but still go out with the requisite intensity to play hard on defense because he needs to prove himself. D players even get keyed up as an O-team scores on them repeatedly. A bigger challenge, a bigger chance to prove their worth.

Similarly this invadestheir decision making as well. If i'm confident in my abilities I'll just complete the easy pass (Take what they give you.) But if I need to prove myself, I'll force a tough one to show you how good I am.

Dennis said...

"Well, it's about time. Jim is finally admitting that DoG's vaunted offensive and defensive schemes were meaningless (or not nearly as meaningful as ultimate lore would have one believe). During their run, DoG won games, in large part, because of their atheletes, not their schemes."

Well, that's not precisely what he was saying. True, DoG was more athletic than essentially all non-nationals teams -- but when we were playing the top other six teams, there was not much of a difference. And some teams, like NY, were likely more athletic (e.g., Dobbins, Cribber, etc.)
The best example of scheme (or philosophy changes) affecting a team was Earth Atomizer (or G.E. Boston corporate-league success.) These teams often bested groups that were significantly and conspicuously more athletic (like Titanic).

dix said...

I remember reading something about the differences between offensive and defensive players in the NFL determined by looking at their lockers. The O players had neat and orderly lockers while the D players' lockers were a mess. It made the analogy that offensive players like neat, orderly patterns of behavior that if well thought out and executed will result in success while D players like to disrupt those patterns and thrive on chaos. I also once worked a bit with Peter Brock who used to play center for the Patriots. His attitude was much like Jim's in that there was nothing dumber than a defensive lineman.

Billy Berrou said...


I've read this post a few times now and feel compelled to chime in. Beyond your reference to 'lefty lifts', I get the impression that your comments are directed at some of my responses on your 'Crazy Frank' thread.

I get the distinct feel that there is a certain 'don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain' air to your message.

I would be a fool to try to argue or dispute your statments, they are a fact. At the end of the day, it's up to the players to execute.

However, I can easily envision people 90 years ago saying the same thing when Knute Rockne beat Army with the forward pass. "It's not about the running game or the forward pass, it's the players that make the plays".

It is a fact that football pundits and authorities of the day discounted the forwad pass (and the jump shot in basketball) in the same way as ultimate experts now discount the notion of the triple threat.

The triple threat is not a system (the motion offense is a system), the triple threat is a philosophical difference that incorporates penetration skills, an aspect to the game that is almost entirely absent from the game at all levels.

You are correct in your assertion that players do win or lose games so ultimately it will be the players with the richest skill set and the strongest fundamentals that will prevail. Where we clearly differ on is what consists of solid fundamentals.

parinella said...

Nope, this arose out of one of my team's practices and our incessant need to talk. I changed some other phrase to "lefty lifts" to add to the entertainment value.

luke said...

so, I knew it. YOur comments were actually directed at ME.