Monday, June 26, 2006

Boston Invite 2006

Alex covered a lot of the details here and here. I’m unaware of any other bloggers who played in the Elite Open division. Perhaps one of the Clapham fellows blogs (the other Hims had one briefly, I recall, but I don’t know if he is on Clapham or if it’s still going).

George commented on the tournament, too. I suggested to him that he ought to handle the “is this going to be on your blog?” questioners by writing “some annoying low-level player asked me” as I did once. I also told him that the low point of the tournament was when a UPA official walking by our game more or less screamed “Cheater!” after what looked to everyone 40 yards away to be a bad call by one of our players. In fairness, this person wasn’t wearing a hat at the time.

Overall, our O played pretty well. Our D played very good defense but struggled to move the disc. But enough about the D.

The team struggled with keeping intensity up in the face of a four goal lead. From a results viewpoint, this shows up more with the O, since the D might play well and still get scored on three or four points in a row, while if the O doesn’t play well, you’ll notice it on the scoreboard. Despite what your goals and expectations are, the cold facts say that elite offenses against elite defenses still get broken 3-4 times a game (or 1/3 or ¼ of the time). It’s impossible to tell with any degree of certainty whether an offense or defense is playing within their expectations (and therefore whether you expect the next point to follow the pattern of the game or the established pattern) based just on the outcome of the last few points.

Anyway, the team got into lulls now and then. Other than possibly a 1-0 deficit, it was only against Metal in the crossover game that we found ourselves down, getting outbroken 3-1 to lose half 8-5. But I think we outbroke them 4-0 in the second half to win 15-13. I am fairly certain (we kept playing time and therefore O/D stats for most but not all of the games) that the O went break-free for one half in each of our games. As Al pointed out, we didn’t have a turnover in the semis until game point (14-8), whereupon we wilted. I think we only had one break in the finals, a point that I am shocked that Alex did not blog about. The subber had called two handlers and four receivers and had to choose either Alex or me for the 3rd handler spot, and I got the nod, as Alex rolls his eyes in disgust, I raise my arms in triumph, and Tom giggles at the interplay. I stoke the fire by yelling to them from the line, “And I’m handling in the zone” even though I wasn’t. All goes well until I have the disc on the line near the end zone, don’t see any cuts far or near, and underthrow a desperation hammer to the back of the end zone.

Turnovers: I’ll recount the ones I was involved in, since there were so few, uncharacteristically. The only other one on Sunday was the first point in the first game. I was coming back to the disc on the line and didn’t have great footing, allowing Ringo to come by and get the block on Alex’s throw, a real “Dear Diary” moment for him (he never gloated about it, to his credit, even after we goaded him on the sideline later, while he was trying to invoke the concept of jury nullification in response to getting fouled on the mark by historical DoG). I believe that this was the only incompletion thrown to me all weekend (oh, scratch that, there was a turfed 8 yard stall 9 forehand in the Subzero game). This measure probably is the one that tracks most closely with my internal assessment of how I played. To some extent, I feel that my own turnovers are the roll of a die, as sometimes a good choice and decent execution can still result in a turnover or I won’t get a great cut, but when I’m in the zone as a cutter, I’m providing so much margin that even errant passes will be caught.

Throws: I led Alex on a zone pass and he cowered and dropped it even though he was at least a step away from possibly being clobbered, and I threw a mid-range forehand to BVH that he just couldn’t get to. The latter would have benefited from an extra half-second to assess the situation, or from a little more anticipation of the throw, since I didn’t fully expect to throw it since it wasn’t a strict power position (I was coming back to the disc). I had a 15 yard forehand throwaway immediately after a foul in which I found myself bantering with a guy on the sideline who didn’t hear the original foul call and thought I was calling it late. There was one other pass that went by the intended receiver but was caught, and another that the receiver had to make a good adjustment on.

I felt very good out there. My defense started out as pretty good but got gradually worse over the weekend as fatigue set in. Except for the heat, Saturday felt like Day 1 at Nationals, and our O line was pretty short. I’m trying to get used mentally to the idea of sitting out more than a token number of O points, but as we were down to 8 by Sunday afternoon, this wasn’t the weekend to put it into practice. The only point that someone could accuse me of dogging it was after I had just spent 20 seconds sprinting up and down unsuccessfully trying to get us a goal and my legs were a little rubbery. It was a little difficult to get out of bed on Sunday, and I’m generally sore and tired today, but I could play if it were Day 3 of a tournament.

I got new cleats this week, the MF890 from New Balance. I felt faster and more sure-footed in them over my Gaia’s from last year, enough so that I’m thinking of ordering another pair to practice in (thus bringing my total pairs of cleats owned to about 10). I have problems with my little toe being scrunched by most cleats, but even the standard widths for NB are wider than many cleats, so I ordered the D widths and they fit just fine. The 2E’s probably would have fit as well and would allow me to wear thicker socks more comfortably.

Tournament victory #103, for those counting at home. Without knowing what’s #34 or #36, I’ll rank this one as the 35th best.

Friday, June 09, 2006

perceptions on traveling

There have been a few comments recently on traveling and calling travels. It's not a strict relationship between the amount traveled and the likelihood of being called, either, since the perception of the marker (or nearby travel-calling defender) is important.

A Swedish player named Edmund England has written a paper on the perception of novices and experts in regards to traveling. The full title is "Differences in Perception Between Novices and Experts in Judging a Complex Movement in Ultimate Frisbee." Here is the abstract:

Sport researchers have lately realised that perception is an
important ability of the sport performer. In open sports, perceiving
movement of the co-players and opponents is crucial. Biological
motion, attention and decision-making are used as theoretical
background in this thesis. It examines the differences between one
group of experienced ultimate players and a group of novices in
their qualitative judgement of a complex movement in ultimate
frisbee. In this experimental digitalvideo study a total of 162
subjects participated, 104 experts and 58 novices. Twelve pretest
throws and 40 test throws were judged by the subjects. The result is
that experts are slightly better than novices. On the whole men
excel though less among experts. The background to this can be
that expert players don’t value this ability in comparison to other
ultimate frisbee skills. The intriguing difference found between
pretest and test can have implications for this paradigm in the

Another key quote is:
"The hypothesis in this thesis is as follows:
• Experienced ultimate player’s judge travelling in ultimate frisbee better than
In the following thesis I also intend to answer these questions:
• Can humans judge this complex situation with more certainty than random?
• Which of the independent variables examined seem to influence the result?"
My email response to him bounced, so Edmund, please respond here with a link to the paper, if you would like others to read it.

I only had a chance to skim the paper, but I'm not sure that I would agree with the classification of "expert". Some expert players and travel-callers I've seen are actually not experts at discerning travels. I would instead have tried to select Observers as the experts. Unfortunately, the WFDF world does not believe in Observers.

Ooh, here's a juicy conclusion:
Differences between men and women
By analysing previous studies in a neighbouring field, time to contact field where gender differences are found by e.g. Schiff and Oldak (1990), McLeod and Ross (1983). Their findings show that women are less accurate at judging point of contact than men judge. Schiff and Oldak, (1990) mean that this can have two reasons, either it is of the women’s tendency to underestimate or that women have poorer spatiotemporal skill. This present study show that women are more defensive in their judgements (women have lower beta values than the men) which supports the former reason of gender differences.


Monday, June 05, 2006

Death or Glory Captures Easterns; Defense Allegedly Played

That was the title of a post back in 1994, with the full text at the bottom of this blog. But it's just as relevant today, as Big Ego Ultimate won the Masters Easterns division this weekend, beating Above & Beyond (NY) in the finals, 15-10.

Per Tarr's request on George's blog, I'll rank this one as only about #70 out of 102 tournament victories, because we lost two pool play games and because it rained like a mother on Saturday.

Alex is working on a more detailed post which he won't publish until he sees something out of me, in order to generate a few extra hits for his blog due to being higher on ultimatetalk, so I need to get this out quickly and won't touch on most of the things that happened. So, some random thoughts:
  • I think I was the median for the age for players who played for us this weekend, so even for Masters, we were an old team.
  • Playing against Pittsburgh, Bim tried to throw a backhand, got hacked pretty good and couldn't get the throw off, stutter-stepped and then threw the pass anyway, calling a foul at some point. A guy off the mark called a travel on the stutter-step, even as he heard the foul call. John Bar starts to go ballistic about it. Before it could get out of hand, I interject that it's a legitimate call but also a pussy call, and this resolved the situation for everyone except for the guy who thought I called him a pussy (I didn't; love the sinner, hate the sin).
  • I had a sweet 10 yard beach throw that should have been the backbreaker in that Pittsburgh game, but John Bar (of all people!) didn't expect it and couldn't get to it, they went down and scored, scored again, etc., until finally we turned it at double game point and lost (but not by so much that we had to play the pre-semis). This ties to two blog entries. Besides the obvious one about junk throws, I never would have been in position to throw the pass if not for the post about the Cut of Death. I cut up the line for a leading pass, but decided to catch it early and ward off any potential crippling injuries instead of milking it into the end zone, as I normally would have done. Speaking of junk throws, I threw a pass from my knees on Saturday at practice, after the briefest of hesitations. It was the right thing to do there.
  • I was surprised to discover that Tiina Booth has been a devoted blog-reader, and so took the opportunity to discuss the concept of junk throws. As you all should know, she coaches Amherst High and has a book on coaching ultimate coming out soon. We discussed the difficulties of allowing "junk throws", which should really be in a player's repertoire if he wants to be great. But kids (and adults?) will throw art at every opportunity if allowed to. She felt that this latter fact was so important and came up so much more frequently that she had to institute the "no high backhand" rule, and they were thinking of making "no style" the theme of this summer's NUTC camps. I think she agreed that there are times that a high backhand or a push pass or whatever is indeed the best throw, but I didn't get a chance to pin her down on under what specific circumstances are needed(or how precocious a player had to be) in order for it to be allowable.
  • I was somewhat surprised that we were able to play with all that rain, but if anything the fields were a little hard. I shudder to think of what they'll be like later in the season after a month without rain.
  • I was happy to escape without a fatigue-related injury. I ran a little too hard at morning DoG practice on Saturday and went into my afternoon games already tired, then played all 25 points in our opening game on Sunday (we had 7-9 players), then had semis and finals. But I'm ok, thanks.

That's it.

Death or Glory withstood their first challenges of the spring in
returning the Easterns' championship to Boston for the first time
since 1983. The boys of big ego ultimate edged out Ring of Fire 19-17
in a spirited final. DOG (formerly Death and Glory) (formerly Earth
Atomizer) brought out a zone in running off four goals in a row to
pull away in the second half against the hard-running Carolinians.
This was the fifth tournament victory in five tries this spring for
Corky and the Tea Party.

"Why don't you guys play any defense?" In ending New York's 10 year
victory streak at this tournament, the "Scourge of the East" seemingly
walked on both sides of the disc, playing a shifting-a-lot-tempt-them
-into-throwing-it-away defense and a one-dump-sometimes-two-only-one
-guy-cutting-be-patient-except-when-you're-hucking offense. Boston
also struggled against a tough Rage (Philadelphia) team in the
semifinals before a heavily partisan Pennsylvanian crowd. Rage played
strong throughout the whole game, and had the disc at 17 all, but
couldn't capitalize and fell by two, 19-17.

This tournament, perhaps, marks the end of an era. Five Mid-Atlantic
teams qualified for the quarterfinals, three for the semis, in a
tournament that has been dominated by Northeast teams for the last
decade. The NY, NY based We Smoke Weed squad seemed disillusioned,
losing to Ottawa in pool play before being completely overmatched by
DOG, 15-8, in their earliest exit from a tournament since, well, ever.
Additionally, only DOG from the three Big Brother spinoff teams
managed to qualify for the quarterfinals. Whether the winds of change
will blow into Lexington, Kentucky, this fall remains to be seen.