Monday, October 17, 2005

another Q&A on Monday night

Send in your disc-related questions today. I'll be online at about 8:15 pm EDT(later if Arrested Development doesn't get preempted by baseball again). And visit your local bloggers, please, they need your attention, too.

UpdateThanks again for joining in. I'll probably do this again next Monday night.

44 comments:

Johnny Mac said...

My question is about leadership structure. How do you feel teams should go about deciding on how their team is going to be captained? Obviously there's not going to be a one-size-fits-all structure that will work for any team, so what are your thoughts on this?
This includes things like line calling, play calling, training structure, who talks in time-outs, etc. etc.

mick said...

I second that question! This is an unspoken problem in my current team and it's driving people nuts!!!

RHL said...

To follow up on that.. what are your thoughts on coaches for teams? (For me, I am talking about a "Tier 3 team" a team that does well at sectionals, but is always 2-4 spots out of a shot at nats, though giving a medium game to the nats goers, 15-8/11 ish)

j-co said...

jim: can you talk about your mental preparation and focus before, during, and after games/tournaments? any "swing thoughts" while cutting, clearing, making tough plays, and so on? obviously, you do a lot of cerebral talky-talky before and after, and you're clearly very alert and thoughtful when you're cutting, but i often get the impression that you play by instinct (honed through years playing, of course). so when you're schooling the scrappy (but stupid) young'uns, what are you thinking?

Anonymous said...

In antcipation of a potentially windy Sarasota...if conditions are such that it is a true upwind/downwind game (very high wind), I'm thinking that the D line should always go downwind and the O line should always go upwind, regardless of whether they are pulling or receiving.

It is crucial not to give up an upwind goa, so you need your best D in to prevent that, and you need your best O in to try to get an upwinder.

Do you agree? Why or why not?

ea said...

What's the most innovative element of Ultimate that you've seen recently? (Something like an offensive or defensive set.) Are there any crazy ideas you'd like to see tried, something kicked up over brainstorming sessions considered too harebrained for the series?

Anonymous said...

So why do we care if the thrower lifts or moves his pivot foot a bit while releasing the throw?

The travel rule originally was designed to enforce a basic tenet of the game of Ulty: you can't advance the disc by running/walking with it. When (approximately) did it also become a mandate that your pivot foot must adhere to the ground while throwing? I don't remember a lot of travel calls when I started playing in 1980, but I seem to recall the NY/Double final in the late 80s as pretty call happy, and probably included a lot of travel calls.

Given the number of times travel calls interrupt the flow of the game and negate really exciting plays, why should we care if the thrower's pivot incidentally loses contact with the ground at release? If everyone can do it, who's disadvantaged? How does it benefit the game to nullify a 60 yard huck and substitute instead a tiresome and obnoxious argument about whether somebody's toe was or wasn't touching the ground?

And no I don't travel -- honest (or as honest as anyone can be in a hard fought self-officiated game). It just seems that we could reduce the incidence of annoying callfests, improve game flow and excitement, w/o any adverse impact on the game itself by changing the rule to say that it's not a travel for the thrower's pivot foot to lose contact with the ground while throwing/releasing the disc.

BTW - great blog

homrbush said...

My question is regarding the mental aspect of the game.

I play in a very small Canadian market (about 100 players in summer league), and I am looking to start a comp team next year.

We have a handful of players who have high level experience (Nats and Worlds), and the rest of the players are phenomonal athletes who have picked up the game unbelievably quick.

I feel with a lucky break here or there, we could make Nats this year, but the problem is that I don't feel anyone else believes that.

They have somewhat of an inferiority complex that we are a small city, there's no way we can compete with the Boston's, New York's, Ottawa's etc.

Do you have any advice on how to approach people to convince them that they are good enough (as I am worried that this belief will even prevent people from even bothering with a comp team).

Thanks for the help.

Anonymous said...

I'm a young university student just starting to play ultimate. Right now most of my experience is from recreational league play. I want to step my skills up a notch and start playing at a competitive level. What is the best way to do this? As a developing player, is their an order that I should learn the skills in? Any comments you have would be appreciated.

parinella said...

Leadership and coaches: Sure, if you can find someone. Pick a coach who is right for your team at that moment. Are you looking for a teacher, a motivator, an organizer, a disciplinarian, or what? Figure out which leadership responsibilities belong to the coach and which belong to the players (e.g., subbing, roster and play time, talking in huddles, instruction, drills, organizing practice, tournament logistics). One or two coaches can’t do it all. Make sure the veterans and the younger stars buy into the decision before it’s announced (this applies to picking captains/leaders if there’s no coach, too). You can't have disgruntled veterans undermining the team.

So, the process probably starts by the leaders of the team getting together in a back room and seeing if there is a decision satisfactory to everyone. Each of these leaders should also have solicited input from those on the team they know well, considered what the group really wants, then go ahead and take charge. Most of us just want to play and know that there is someone in charge who has thought about the way things should be, and that if we have something important to say, it will be at least heard.

parinella said...

Focus: Before Nationals, I make a list of key phrases, some as simple as “EAT” or “BE THE MAN,” and will sometimes look it over before a game to get me psyched up. For in-game swing thoughts, usually I’ll have to commit an anxious mistake (perhaps biting too hard on a throw fake) before I remind myself of the correct technique. Generally, though, I think I search for opportunities. Is my defender giving me an in-cut or a break-cut? Is he paying too much or not enough attention to the disc? What is the cutter in front of me doing? Is the disc moving to a power position? I also try to maintain a feel for where the open spaces on the field are. I guess at any one time, I’m generally aware of no more than 2 other people at once. Usually it’s my defender, and the thrower, but when I’m popping, for instance, it’s usually the middle middle and the other popper, or the middle middle and the other nearest defender, if I can draw a double team. In that case, I’ll just expect that the other popper has found an open spot somewhere in the other slot and I’ll be ready to fast break as soon as the pass goes up to him. Or sometimes it’ll be the off-handler and the off-point, if the off-point is currently helping to shut down the lane to me but might flash off to take the off-handler on a high count. Hmm, I guess this identifies a key difference between offense and defense. An offender can afford to divert his attention away from his man for a few seconds, but a defender can do it for only an instant without risking getting burned. But the point I want to emphasize is that you need to be able to focus on two players at once, and be able to shift that focus onto the most important players at any time.

parinella said...

Wind: I really wish I knew the answer to your question. What you say sounds reasonable, but then again, maybe you want to keep your O in downwind to make sure of the goals, and put your D in upwind to keep the pressure on the other team and maybe just run them around enough for an upwinder. Or then again, maybe you want to put a couple throwers in upwind, and a couple defenders in downwind.

But as a side note, the fields in Sarasota are set up so that the prevailing western wind is across the fields. Pure upwind/downwind games are more about luck. In a strong crosswind, it's difficult to score either way, but it can be done, and strong throwing and catching skills are rewarded.

We got WFDF to make sure they did this in Hawaii for WUCC 2002 also. It really should be a standard if space allows for it, and there is a strong, consistent wind at the location. Around here, the wind is intermittent and it can come from any direction, so there isn't much point in trying to guess.

parinella said...

Innovation: I’d like to try a variation on Crazy Frank’s ideas, something like a 7 handler offense spread out around the field a little more, moving the disc quickly. And a defense that flexes with its mark and clamminess based on field position, stall count, and thrower skill would be cool. The last major technological breakthrough was probably the horizontal stack. Is there an effective clam against this offense? Ooh, here’s an innovation: statistically-managed strategies. I could probably come up with a dozen questions like the one about wind above that could possibly be answered with data. What is the relative benefit of a high pull vs a long pull vs one that is put in play near the line vs an OB one? Do transition D's generate enough turnovers to be worth the practice time? Is "establish the huck" really a good strategy? How effective are end zone offenses? When is it better to punt it than dump it?

parinella said...

Traveling: short answer: we (98% of us) don't care if the thrower moves his foot “a little bit,” but we do care if the thrower moves it a lot, and it’s awfully hard to define “a little bit” and “a lot” and have 20 000 players implement this the same way.

Longer answer:When they wrote the rules, there were probably a lot of assumptions about how people played the game. However, they didn’t explicitly state those assumptions in the rules. As a result, when the rules were read 10 years later or in some other part of the country where they didn’t have the same assumptions, the rules became the words on the paper without the assumptions. Pulling OB, intentional MACs, some travel calls, contact on the mark: there are a lot of things that a time traveler from 25 years ago would be appalled by but which were technically legal then and now (or, if illegal, then with a penalty which offenders are willing to accept now). You can do this for any sport. Baseball: body armor, 15 seconds between pitches, blocking the plate, batters on top of the plate, LOOGYs. Football: holding, chucking, in the grasp rules. &c. Is it possible to rewrite the rules to include the old assumptions? Let’s look at the less controversial OB pull as an example. At one time, it was considered unspirited to pull it OB intentionally, or even to pull without caring whether it went in or not. But the rules never stated that it’s illegal to pull it OB, merely that the receiving team may invoke the brick rule if the pull is OB. It was just assumed that the puller would try to keep it in play. What if the rules stated “An out of bounds pull is a violation. The receiving team has the option to ask for a repull or to invoke the brick rule.” Would this change players’ behavior? I say that it would.

I'd like to explore this traveling phenomenom a little bit more, perhaps later this week.

parinella said...

Small market team: Hmm, you could be screwed. I suppose what you could do is to look for historical role models of small cities that became ultimate havens. Note that frisbee population doesn't have to be proportional to total population, since you only need a few players to get a team. And really, few elite players got their start in the summer leagues, instead learning to play in high school or college, so the fact that you have only 100 league players really shouldn't affect your team.

You'll need to develop loyalty in your players, too, to keep them in town rather than migrating to the big city. Maybe you can portray yourselves as the underdog who can still do it.

Anonymous said...

Just repeating a question I asked last week:

How do you throw better into the wind? I know imparting a lot of spin on the disk is important but there's a limit to how fast I can flick my wrist. Does wrist and hand strengthening help or is there anything else I can do?

parinella said...

Getting better: play a lot in a variety of roles. Buy Ultimate Techinques and Tactics. Spend a lot of time thinking about the game and evaluating your mistakes and good plays, and learning that each has a mental and physical component. Train but don't overtrain. Have fun. Practice throwing but don't just throw; visualize a marker, a cutter, poaching defenders, and a sideline. Watch good players, especially ones who don't seem especially athletic.

parinella said...

Throwing in the wind: You asked after we closed up shop last week.

Cork always used to advocate doing "grippies", those little hand-squeezers, and he could always throw his flick far. And while I agree that the wrist and hand muscles are important, a smooth transfer of power using your large body muscles is also important. A jerky, inefficient motion might be good enough on calm days, but each imperfection gets magnified in the wind. You could be gripping the disc too tight, or using too much arm, or just muscling it. Think Ernie Els rather than John Daly. Smooth, easy swing.

Jackson said...

Do you feel that within the observer system, the observers should make active travel calls? The observers already make active offsides calls, because it is generally agreed that it is impossible for a team to see where the other team's feet are from 70 yards away. I feel it is equally hard for a defender to see a thrower's feet. In what defense would a defender be looking at a thrower's feet?

I realize that someone already asked a question regarding travels, but I would like to know your thoughts on this issue.

parinella said...

Mr. Parinella, your blog seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. Why are you so popular?

parinella said...

Oh, a tough question, but a fair one. There’s no single answer. Some readers respond to my integrity. Others are more impressed by my incorruptibility. Still others like my determination to lower taxes and the bureaucrats in the state capital can put that in their pipes and smoke it!

parinella said...

Active travel calls: nah, I'm against it. Either the observer will call the rule literally, and the game will grind to a halt, or the observer will be the one deciding how the game is going to be played. Just let the teams decide how they want to play the game, and the observer is there if they can't agree. As an observer, I once told a player, "Yes, that's a travel, but that's a real petty call."

But even with offsides, I believe that the observers are instructed to raise their hands only in blatant offsides, not one if the thrower's big toe is across the goal line. And the receiving team has to acknowledge the call for it to be valid.

Sam TH said...

Note that in college, the recieving team doesn't get the option of ignoring the offsides call (it's an automatic repull the first time, and a pretty severe penalty after that).

Question:

When a cutter fakes a thrower out, who should get blamed for the turnover? Does your answer change if the faked cut was what was called in the play? What about if it's the default cut in that situation (eg, always cut for the back endzone cone)?

Bluffton Vidalia said...

Do you see a switch of powerbase back to the northeast now that Brown won. I played in the Northeast in the 1990's and it was the toughest region (IMHO).. then the northwest took over. The South has never done too much, and the West seems to have been steady with the Condors.. comments?

parinella said...

Both of them are to blame (didn't you read "Players make plays"?). Which one is more to blame I guess depends on how rigidly the team runs its offense. Usually there are several rules competing at once, like "if you're shut down short but open deep, cut deep" and "cut back to the disc on the second cut". If the cutter is tentative in his motions, put the majority of the blame on him, but if the thrower is jumpy and quick to the trigger, blame him. I guess. It's probably more important to figure out what the problem was.

homrbush said...

Thank you for the tips, both here and in your book.

Also, great Simpsons bit :)

parinella said...

Brown is just one school (two if you count their BS consortium with RISD), and you need more than one school churning out players. None of the other teams east of the Mississippi have made much of an impact, have they? The NE didn't have a strong regional this year. Not that the RRI is perfect, but the 4th highest RRI from the NE was 2382, MA 2383, S 2458, SW 2459, C 2478, and NW 2583. The Central actually had two other teams above NE #4.

Bluffton Vidalia said...

Open Nationals: Pool A the toughest..then C, B D?

Johnny Mac said...

Every team I've ever seen has used a vertical stack of 3-4 players making cuts to the corners (and occasionally up the guts) when they're in the red zone.
Have you ever seen any other endzone offence formations used, and have they been effective? Are there any formations that you would like to try but haven't done so yet?

parinella said...

The most effective end zone offense we've ever had in our endzone drill was a spread stack set up in an arch in the end zone, but it was impossible to get into quickly enough during flow. Hmm, maybe we should try that arch again. Well, there are two weeks to Nationals.

I think some teams keep their ho-stack in the end zone, and that could work since there is so much room to cover.

Anonymous said...

With the fall upon us the weather has taken a turn for the worse. What tips can you give for playing in adverse weather conditions like rain and cold?

BTW i love the Q&A sessions!

parinella said...

Super, A and C get to pair up with each other, too. A has three legitimate teams, but C has two teams that would have been seeded higher had they not lost at their Regionals. And Metal could scare or even beat some teams, so maybe C is the toughest. But with the crazy power pools, you never know how the elimination brackets will turn out (for their 5-0 record last year, Ring got Sockeye in the quarters), so as long as you get to the quarters, there isn't a real big inherent advantage in being in any of them. That only applies when the teams are fairly close to each other. There's only 255 RRI points between the top and bottom teams (translates to a 15-8.4 win), while there's 516 points in women's (15-3.4) and 258 points between #2 and #8.

parinella said...

Rain: Get someone else to play for you?

Just play through it, I guess. You're going to be wet anyway, get used to it. Change socks frequently, and cleats if you have enough to rotate through the weekend. Bring a garbage bag and put your stuff in it. Continue to drink anyway.

But I really recommend finding a nice warm bar to wait out the storm.

Johnny Mac said...

Further to the rain question...

I have a lot of trouble with forehand-grip throws (flick, hammer, etc.) when there's a lot of moisture. This occurs either in the rain, or on hot, humid days where I'm sweating a lot. The throws tend to slip out and I have a lot of trouble maintaining a decent grip.

Any tips on dealing with this?

mick said...

Jim, this Q&A thing is a great idea. Sorry I kinda missed it...

parinella said...

Another idea for developing players: play hot box, goaltimate, small field 3 on 3, keep away, or any game where you have a limited number of receivers, a short stall count, and a lot higher ratio of passes per person per minute of real time.

Marshall said...

This is Jim's Q&A, but one thought for Johnny Mac. Consider gloves for rainy conditions. Tackified wide receiver gloves can be a great boon in the rain on those grips. I find them less useful for really hot, sweaty conditions (partly because they can just be uncomfortable and maybe because I feel silly wearing gloves when it's hot), but they're great in the rain. They do take a little adjusting.

luke said...

jim, i agree w/ the small games as being most appropriate for developing a team.

i do think the 2 line goto drill, IF people run it right (i.e., run 3 steps deep, and cut under for the throw) is great for new teams... also for a brand new team, do a dump drill (although these skills are developed in mini, there is less stress on valuing the disk)... also, even though idris might disagree, a focus on throwing (w/ emphasis on low release/pivoting) has value for a new team... finally, your 'arc' endzone 'o'... you mean... like 3 handlers back, w/ corner guys, and 2 deep guys? and the corner guys flash the middle, or receive resets to the side, while the back guys cut in? or an invert 'dam' arc, w/ two near the front, who cut to the cone, freeing space for back corner cutters to come into the middle to receive goals?

parinella said...

"Arch" put a guy in each front cone and a guy on each side about 15 yards deep in the end zone, 5-10 yards from the center. Either of the guys in the center was primary, but in the event of a poach, the corners became threats, too. And the side handlers could slash in front of the disc, too. Brown U still uses it occasionally off a timeout or a walkup near the goal line.

Anonymous said...

who cuts your hair & do you think more black people will start playing ultimate?

chain, furious and ring are only teams that come to mind in open division that have some integration?

parinella said...

Hmm, original reply to the last question isn't showing up. Here's another.

The paucity of black players isn't racial, it's class. Ultimate players are mostly middle- to upper-middle-class private college graduates. Blacks make up a lower percentage of that demographic. The powerhouse high schools, I believe, are mostly private (excepting Amherst).

One person counts as "integration" only when the environment is hostile and there are forces actively fighting to prevent it.

One way to integrate would be to try to get programs going at the historically black Southern colleges.

Otherwise, it'll just be a trickle as more public high schools in less lily-white areas take up the game.

Another note: it's also geographic. Blacks tend to live _in_ cities and in the South. I don't think anyone on DoG actually lives in the city of Boston (or in the South, for that matter).

Anonymous, would you consider it integration if the Cosby clan (80s sitcom, not the 70s cartoon) started playing ultimate, or would it just be more privileged spoiled kids taking up the game?

Anonymous said...

Integration perhaps was wrong wording. I simply meant more black people playing ultimate.

Cosby clan definitely NOT integration, but if Evans family started playing, NOT what WOULD be integration.

DYnomite.

Billy Berrou said...

Could you please stop calling me Crazy Frank? If you understood half of what I know you'd have to rewrite your book.

I guess I'm in the 2% that do care if people travel a little.

Traveling, even a little bit, is an indication of poor balance. Something that the entire community is stricken with and this malaise is directly attributable to the 98% who don't care.

Billy Berrou said...

The game will only grind to a halt until the community learns to play without traveling.

I can play to the standard that I have set and put on a clinic on the number of different moves a player can put on while operating within those guidelines.

Ask Jim Herrick if play grinds to a halt around me. That's an old argument that I've heard countless times but it will only be found out by trial, not by supposition.