Thursday, September 22, 2005

Triple Threat redux

In July, I posted Sound Ideas from Crazy Frank, about our old friend Billy Berrou. I met Frank during our debacle at Santa Cruz, then played goaltimate with him afterwards, as described on his web page.

Now, I'm a little hurt that he developed a man-crush on Wiggins but I'm just a single threat like all of ultimate, but I want to give him his airtime. He still gets it wrong in insisting that it's not at all about yardage, but here he is:

"You've missed a lot Jim but I'll just chime in here on what you've written.

1) West Coast teams travel too much. Yes and no. West coast teams travel more than east coast teams but you all travel WAY too much.

I think you're all missing the point here though. The reason I'm determined to fix this flaw in the game is that traveling is a symptom of poor balance. If you're not balanced on your snowboard, you're going to land on your ass and crack your head. If you learn how to play ultimate without any consequences for traveling (being off balance), you're not going to learn very well.

2) Some people hold on to the disc too long.


Everybody holds on to the disc too long. You've played Goalty with me and seen me play. I throw a lot of throws in the 50-100ms range and my target range is to average holding on to the disc around 1000ms. In general, not that I have statistics to back it up, but I would say that the general communitie's average is closer to 4000-5000ms. That's 4-5 times longer than what I think it should be. Playing with a 3 count is a superb idea and something I've also done (except I only make the rule for specific players who don't seem to 'get it').

3) Elite teams cheat on the mark. Hmmm. Elite teams cheat and yes they foul a lot. This has a huge impact on me personally since my stance/game is predicated on balance. Imagine trying to snowboard and having some oaf 'foul' you all the time. It's disgusting. Not fun.

4) You can be a triple threat by throwing the disc for yards, dishing it to someone who then makes a throw for yards, or doing the give and go for yards.


First, take yardage completely out of the equation. It does not belong. Yardage is irrelevent

You can be a triple threat by UNDERSTANDING that your ability to simultaneously be able to penetrate, or dish, or throw for a scrore has a profound effect on how a defense plays you.

5) Sometimes its about position and not yards.


It's always about position.

6) The Swimmy move is the move of the future.


The move of the future is a backhand lift give and go. I didn't get a chance to watch Idris' team at Labor day where I heard they were running some dominator but I didn't see any one with ANY penetration moves and you're talking about the swimmy as the move of the future? You guys need to learn an array of reliable give and go moves. That's the future.

7) Become more ambidextorous. Yes, thank you Idris. This is probably number 1 and Jim left it off his list entirely. As far as your 3 point analogy, hmmm, I hear what you're saying but I wouldn't take it that far. I don't huck much left handed but I do FAKE a lot with it and I find that useful. I'm not sure a left fake on a 3 pointer would be credible my my lefty huck fake sure is.

8) Negative space. Again, right on. This really should be number 1 now that I think about it. Thank you. I only take it 'too far' because of over compensation for an already skewed situation. In a nice balanced attack, I wouldn't be so extreme.

Other comments:
" Right now, there is a hierarchy in throwing options. You look to throw for yards, then if that's not there, you look to get the disc into better position, and then after that maybe you cut for the give and go. Perhaps it would make for a more efficient offense if throwers looked to dish it as a primary option."

This is entirely upside down. Usually the first thing I do when I catch the disc (and motion hasn't been established) is to establish my balance squarely over my pivot foot and begin to identify where I can break down the defense with a penetration move. I can't understand why nobody else plays this way. To always look first for an upfield throw for yardage is an egotistical, self-centered, selfish, narcisistic style of play. It is unwatchable, borish and dull. This is an easy game, don't make it harder than it needs to be.

"And I don't think you can give Frank and credit for the idea that "elite teams cheat on the mark". People have been complaining about this for at least five years."

I don't want credit for anything. I'd like someday to go watch some ultimate and be intellectually stimulated, which is something that does not happen now.

People have been complaining about elite teams cheating for at least 20 years.

Some of the conceptst that I've borrowed from basketball are over 80 years old. Nothing new.

As for your play at Purdue, Adam, that sounds like a simple back door play if I understand you correctly. It is a good play, don't get me wrong but I take it quite a bit further than that. I run an offense where some players on offense, depending on their roles/positions, are actually cutting, throwing, etc. as if they were attacking the opposite endzone. Nobody does that. Not even my PlinkO boys.

"Does anyone not horrible besides Studarus routinely throw passes with both hands?"

Not anybody I saw at Labor Day (except wiggins but only when he was playing Goalty). What do you mean by routinely? Oh, and by the way, I do take back what I said about wiggings. He is NOT a triple threat. Not only does he lack the understanding of the effect he is having on defense, but he doesn't have much in the way of penetration moves. He is, however, with his upright stance, very good at dictating tempo to the D but seemingly at a loss to know what to do with that edge.

"So, getting back to Frank, he would like throwers and cutters to consider their throws and cuts in terms of offensive flow (the motion offense) rather than as strictly a yardage battle."

sort of. But...there aren't throwers and cutters. There is the thrower (who is THE cutter) and an offensive structure that allows him to cut into spaces, not throw into spaces. Make sense? It's not quite that rigid but the point is in the motion offense that the thrower is also the primary cutter but then this ties in with your remark above about first look down field, then look to disc and then look to penetrate.

"...push passes.."

For 25 years, I rarely threw push passes until very recently. My girlfriend wanted me to teach her how to throw (1 day in GG park) and so I came up with Hippy Hill, a simple drill that's on my website (it's similar to what Idris said about the PlinkO line drill, looks easy but it's harder than you'd think--try throwing 100 throws with a friend at short range, as fast as you reasonably can, always throwing with your catching grip). In any event, the push pass over the past 12 months has become a complete staple in my diet. It's the most compact throw, makes for a great fake and can be outrageous in Goalty with the power skyhook!!

Push passes rule.

"Daryl (KAOS, Jam, Rhino) throws a ton of lefty break mark backhands... and unlike _most_ people, doesn't travel."

WHATTTTTT????? Daryl travels like a MOFO!!! Are we talking about the same guy? Seriously, I like Daryl and everything but he cheats massively. Like I told Daryl directly, he's such a good thrower and hard enough to get a foot/hand block on when he doesn't travel so please give me a fighting chance to make a play by playing fairly by the rules.


Tarr said...

Well, we never called it a backdoor play, although I guess I see that analogy - the Bulls used to run a backdoor our of the high post and this is somewhat analogous that.

We called the play the "hook and ladder", a football term that seems more appropriate to me.

Billy Berrou said...

Adam, I see what you're saying. Hook and ladder and backdoor might be slightly different but they are close enough to each other for the sake of arguement. I think on the backdoor play you'll typically catch the disc beyond the line of scrimmage whereas with the hook and ladder, the catch is predominately behind the line of scrimmage. Backdoor is an extremely old basketball term.

Like I said, both are good plays but not in the same category as what I consider using the negative space. I'll actually run give and go moves and weaves entirely backwards towards the opposite endzone. That's how dramatic the difference is between styles of play. Crazy? No. Effective? Extremely.

Jim, don't be hurt. My crush on Ben is over. He hurt my feelings and besides, he's not the player I thought he was, not to mention that I think he travels excessively.

When I saw someone playing with an upright stance, able to throw decent lefty lifts and play good goaltimate I assumed that we were of like minds. Wishful thinking I suppose.

As for me still having it wrong. I realize that it may be a hard thing to swallow but while you've been off winning 98 tournaments, I've been off developing a brand of ultimate that is far superior to anything else out there. I (as well as others who happen to understand the motion offense) happen to believe that what I've developed is more advanced than anything else going.

This is something that is very difficult to observe, measure or quantify as there don't seem to many other players/teams that play with a 'penetrate first' mentallity (not to mention the fact that the rules in Ultimate defy meaningful measurement; oops, was that a rant?). Since you can't measure it, it's hard to believe.

Suspend belief. Gaining yardage is irrelevent. Trust me on this one. You'll be happier for it.

Billy Berrou said...

Holding the disc too long, redux.

As I was playing Goalty last night, I gave a lot of thought to this specific aspect and I wanted to expound on it a little more.

What may have gone unnoticed with my 1000ms ATP (average time of possession) comment, is that in order for me to have an average that low, my mean time of possesion has to be close to 100ms. For every 3 or 4 count I incur, how many 100ms throws do I need to throw to maintain my 1000ms average?

That is to say that by far, the majority of my throws (when I'm 'dealing' and I'm playing with a group of players who understand how to support a decent motion O) are around 1/10th of a second.

Juxtapose that mean number against the mean time of possession of your average player (take Labor Day for instance). At a mean time of 3 seconds, your mean time is approx a factor of 30 or more longer than mine and I think a mean time of 3 is on the generous end.

That's an enormous differential. Right or wrong about an offense designed around ultra quick throwing abilities, you can certainly appreciate my extreme frustration with a culture that plays so incredibly slow.

It's like playing behind a group of four old ladies at the golf course except that slowness in the current culture of ultimate is pervasive and self perpetuating.

Dennis said...

You had to know I'd post on this one. Hmmm.
So Crazy Frank likes
1) the clam
2) the high release backhand
3) and argues the game is more about position than yardage.

He is an effin' genius!
To Crazy Frank:
Jim is much more amenable to these ideas than most. He was after all a seminal part of the Earth/DoG led strategic revolution in ultimate -- that moved ultimate from gamblin' O and conservative D to conservative O and gamblin' D. In brief, we made people realize that in ultimate possession was more important than yardage -- and that if every team was going to try to play Stanford O, well, then we'll just flare guys out wide.
I also agree with C.F. about the pace of ultimate -- in which the most important thing for O is to get it out of your hands quickly, keep the disc movin', and that essentially everyone holds onto it too long. We have to be more Flutie than Bledsoe. But it was hard enough for me to get Earth to play clam and the dump, I knew I had no chance for creating a switch to quick, short O. Moreover, with Alex as a major part of the team, I was just happy he at least began to dump it to me on stall-9 when every imaginable option was covered and he didn't even have a shot at a 50-50 blade.
But Jim and I also have had many debates on this issue -- particularly when trying to determine value and significance of certain ultimate statistics. Jim, for one brief moment when he had a high fever, developed a system for ultimate-stat analyses that valued long, deep turnovers more than a no-yardage completion. I stayed up with him for a few days and nights – and after a lot of cold-compresses, chicken soup, and some slaps across the face, the fever finally sweated out of him.;-)
Keep up the revolution, Frank.

parinella said...

The cost of a turnover and the value of a completion are not fixed, but depend on the environment. In a really high-wind situation with one team on its own goal line going upwind, the defense is probably more likely to get the next goal. On the other extreme, if teams are flawless, then a huck is of no more benefit than a swing pass.

You're never going to get close to flawless on a consistent basis, even if you clone the revolutionaries and let them play their perfect games. If a team can score much more than half the time when starting from their own goal line against the best defenses, I think that would put them among the top offenses of all time. (Reference point for Dennis: 1994 DoG scored 58% when receiving (includes bricks and other short pulls); followed by Cojones and Double at 52%, an average of 39%, and a worst of 22%. This is for all pool play games. So, maybe we’d set the bar at 60%.)

So, you need to consider that your team (and the other team) is going to turn it over more than a negligible percentage of the time, and a lot more in some circumstances. (Of course, you don’t want to fall into the Turnover Compact/“just get it back” mentality. It’s difficult to balance reality and the goal you want to shoot for.) You need to move the disc 70 yards to score, and the defense contests each of those yards (albeit not equally; the deep threat in the first half of the field means that the shorter passes are easier there). It’s not like (most) basketball games (or goaltimate, but less so), where in the absence of a press (i.e., contested defense), there is virtually no difference in scoring percentage versus position on the court, until you get to shooting range (say, 23 feet max). So you CANNOT ignore yardage.

Having said all that, you are correct that yardage isn’t everything (but Frank is wrong when he says that yardage is nothing). Yardage, position, and possession are all important. Ultimate teams are too reluctant to trade yardage for possession (especially near the goal line), to their detriment. But the optimum balance depends on the environment.

Dennis said...

"Having said all that, you are correct that yardage isn’t everything (but Frank is wrong when he says that yardage is nothing). Yardage, position, and possession are all important. Ultimate teams are too reluctant to trade yardage for possession (especially near the goal line), to their detriment. But the optimum balance depends on the environment."

Interestingly, football (as opposed to ultimate) is a game where yardage is often more important than possession. Usually when a team is on their half of the field and facing a 4th and 1, they will punt -- despite the fact that the odds are in their favor to get the 1 yard and maintain possession. They feel they would rather give away possession and gain 40 yards than gamble to keep possession.
Interesting notion: If the football is on the one yard line (with 99 yards to go), would you rather have your team be on offense or defense?
(At the 20 yard line, the answer is clearly offense. But what about the 1 yard line? I wonder if they did stats on that sort of thing, who is usually the next team to score?)


parinella said...

They do have stats on this for football, and it came up in the discussion of sudden death and the flip previously on this blog. The break-even point, on average, for which team scores next is somewhere between the 20 and 30 yard lines. Here, lots of great stuff on this page:

Edward Lee said...

(At the 20 yard line, the answer is clearly offense. But what about the 1 yard line? I wonder if they did stats on that sort of thing, who is usually the next team to score?)

In NFL overtime games before 1994, teams that started out on O had a very slight advantage over teams that started out on D (48-47, or something like that). Since 1994, when kickoffs were pushed back 5 yards and kicking tees were required to be shorter, offenses have won about 59% of the time.

Before 1994, average starting position off a kickoff was around the 20-25 yard line. Since 1994, it's been somewhere around the 30. So the break-even point is somewhere in the low 20s.

Billy Berrou said...

Hi Dennis,

Nice to make your aquaintance and thank you for the kinds words. "Crazy Frank" likes a cerebral game (match-up zone D {clam}, fast paced, motion O, position, support, timing, misdirection, counter plays, spacing, etc. all making the game more cerebral and esoteric). I prefer the lift to the high release (yes, they are two different throws).

About the position/yardage argument; yardage (which, to clarify, in this context means gaining positive yards on an individual throw) simply should not be a relevent factor in your decision making process when you have the disc.

I don't want to sound like I'm back peddling, I just want to make sure we all agree on what we're talking about here. When I say it's all about position and not about the yards, I'm referring to gaining yards being a factor in making individual throwing or offensive scheme choices.

Personally, when I have the disc, gaining yardage is NEVER in the equation. It never enters my mind. Don't get me wrong, I do face the endzone a lot and push the disc upfield but it just doesn't compute when people talk about the importance of yardage. I take what the defense gives me and then I force them to give me some more. The more balanced your attack is, the easier it is to move in the general direction of your endzone but that's not the same thing as making movement towards your endzone a priority. In the overall scheme of the motion offense, no where is yardage a priority. It just isn't.

The game of ultimate is so easy guys, there's just no need to stress about gaining yardage. It will happen on it's own. I don't know how to stress this empatically enough Jim. In my mind there is no yardage/possession tradeoff since yardage just doesn't play a role in the motion offense.

Besides that, defenses DO NOT contest every yard. You only think that they do and so you play accordingly. I watched DoG play against Condors. There was so much uncontested yardage available to you guys but you never exploited it (mostly because you didn't see it and you probably still don't know what I'm referring to).

You are all so convinced that this 'smash mouth' ideology is a self evident truth that you hunker down and grind it out and it has become a very self perpetuating situation. It simply doesn't have to be that way. I know this from my own personal experience.

Jim, turn your offensive heirarchy (*the one you listed on your original CF post) upside down, have your players counter-rotate their initial pivot away from coverage instead of into it (even if it means fighting their momentum and 'instincts'), maintain eye contact and a square body position between thrower and catcher both before and after the catch, keep the disc moving, run misdirection plays, run some weaves (the one on my video, not the goofy ultimate ones listed elsewhere on the web), have several players on your team learn some decent penetration moves and defenses will NOT be contesting every yard. They'll be lucky to seriously contest 25% of them.

The truth is, you CAN make the defenders play to an extent like the do in hoops where they are willing to concede some yardage. Obviously not to the same extent but easily much more than any teams are doing now.

You can't stop it, you can only hope to slow it down. I think that in general, most turnovers in the motion offense are due to mental mistakes rather than defenders making plays and execution of offense is something that certainly can be refined.

Regarding your stats Jim, umm, I think it's cool that we have some historical reference points but but given a simple change in the rules like making traveling a turnover (or addressing the markers hacking of the throwers) and all those stats go staight out the window.

As for wind conditions, etc., we all saw out here in June how all the 'elite' teams on the west coast flailed in the strong wind. I wish I had a team of people who knew the motion O so we could have shred. I know, talk is cheap but all I can say that I was licking my chops at the potential to do some serious butt-kicking. That wind looked delicious to me.


Kevin said...

1. What IS the different between the lift and the high release, and do you have a video of the differences on your web site?

2. You claim that the motion offense is the greatest offense ever etc., so I've got a question. Assume you have a team full of players with the talent and skill of Jam or DoG or whatever, and they all know how to run the motion offense, and run the motion offense the way you think it should be ran. Then say you have another team of just as skillfull players on defnese and they know about the motion offense as well. How does this defensive team stop the motion offense.

Billy Berrou said...

Hi Kevin,

I can throw a lift from around my waist area (or anywhere above that for that matter) and get a decent pop on it throwing directly away from my body (and can be followed by a wicked give and go). There's some decent shots of me doing this in my triangle weave video. These are not high releases. All the lifts in the weave video are throws I'm releasing no higher than my midsection. That's not 'high' but the discs do 'pop' up 12"-24" or even higher which is why I labeled those throws 'lifts'. I've seen some people put at least a 10' lift on throws.

There's also some backhand lifts in the triple threat video but no real 'high releases' to speak of (although I'm certainly releasing the disc above my head). I meant to put some high releases on the video but for some reason they ended up on the cutting room floor (I think they didn't fit with the 'effect' I was trying to create with the animation). I rarely run give and go's off of a high release because of the fact that my upper torso is usually going the opposite direction from the direction of the throw so it's hard to run one unless it is staggered.

There are examples of both sidearm high releases and sidearm lifts on the triple threat video and those are much easier to distinguish from each other. The sidearm lift is the one that looks like nothing you've ever seen before, mainly because I invented that one too and have only just recently started breaking it out. There's nothing like throwing a pass, in a game that's been around for almost 40 years, and hearing people say "what the hell was that?" In the video you can clearly see they are two completely different throwing motions (there's only one righty and one lefty sidearm lift if I remember correctly). The sidearm high release is just that, a sidearm that flies relatively flat but is released at shoulder height.

To me, a high release is more of a cross body and harder thrown throw that has little or no lift on it whatsoever (no elevation change) and is best used for break mark type stuff. The lift is more of a finesse throw and usually, as opposed to cross body, is thrown directly away from the body.

As for your second question. I'm a little embarrassed. I hate to sound like a know-it-all. I'm not. I don't know if it's the greatest ever but I think that the motion offense and derivations of it that will be cultured from these on-line discussions, will be stepping stones to far more sophisticated styles of play than are typically seen today.

The motion O has: quick releases, support, flow, dribbling, ambidexterity, misdirection, balanced attacks (personal and team), etc. and these are all individual building blocks to any number of offenses. The motionO is not the beat all to end all but it's the best so far (I think). When the forward pass in football and the jumppass in basketball were integrated into their respective games, defenses had to adjust. This is no different. If nothing else, the motionO stresses a richer skill set from all the players. I've just provided what I think is a reasonable framework to empower players to use them in. It works for me.

About defenses targeted to defend against it, I don't know. The truth is that ultimate can just be flat out boring when you learn how to play a motion O. That's why I'm such a huge proponent of Goaltimate. Ultimate is just too easy when you've got the tools, the team and the structure (not to mention a 9000 sq. ft. endzone). I almost feel that people are reluctant to find out that their belief in their smashmouth style that they've been playing all these years is a lie so they cling on to these outdated notions on how the game 'has to be played'.

Probably the first thing you learn when you learn the motionO is that man on man is inadequate; which is why I've played exclusively zone since 1988 (either match-up {preferred} or standard). When you understand, through practice, the power of penetration and your own personal ability to break down a defense and you also figure out ways to create legal screens (outside 9'10"), you have to assume your opponent can do the same and so you'll rework your defense to at least provide some form of containment. I always felt that teams reacting to the motionO by putting a full fledged zone on (even on non-windy days) was the highest compliment. The motionO shreds zones well too but you have to be patient first to get the breaches that you're looking for. Basically, the motionO already has you set up positioned properly to play a standard zone so the only real difference is just making sure that the extra defenders underneath don't cause problems and it's even more important for players to cycle around and provide negative support to compliment and penetration moves that occur.

As far as Jam and DoG having the skills to play the motionO, stop teasing me. That would be a dream come true. It would be fun to watch for sure, no matter which offense they were playing.