Tuesday, November 21, 2006

HnH and SLG revisited

There are really two dimensions to the Huck ‘n’ Hope, and I’ve been ignoring one of them. Let’s consider four teams:
A: Cuts deep relentlessly, hucks it to 50% of those cuts
B: Cuts deep relentlessly, hucks it to 20% of those cuts
C: Cuts deep occasionally, hucks it to 50% of those cuts
D: Cuts deep occasionally, hucks it to 20% of those cuts

A and B might be considered aggressive. D would be labeled by all as conservative, and C probably would be considered conservative. But looking at it another way, the throwers on A and C are the aggressive players, while B and D’s throwers are considered conservative. I’ve only been considering how often teams throw deep, ignoring how often teams throw deep given the number of deep cuts they get.

I think B is probably the best strategy. This is what golf mental game guru Dr. Bob Rotella refers to as “conservative strategy, cocky swing.” The problem with A is related to decision-making. Other things being equal, B is going to have a much better huck percentage than A while still hucking on almost as many possessions (but will make more passes before hucking). A will chuck it any time the receiver has a step and they can get the throw off (think Allen Iverson). B will eschew these marginal choices and will require a little more before deciding that it’s a good choice.

It’s certainly possible to go too far. If you only take 90% chances, then maybe you’ll complete 90% of your hucks, but you’ll be passing up 80% shots when you only need maybe a 50-60% chance to come out ahead.

So, who wants to be the one to say who A, B, C, and D are? And who from those teams wants to refute?


Jay said...


By your (somewhat) arbitrary categorizations, B is probably the best offense. I think a fair comparison is to look at football and introduce some element of game theory. A football team has to have the threat of the deep threat so that the safeties doesn't put 8 or 9 in the box and kill the running game, or alternatively, must have the threat of a running game so that the defense doesn't play the whole game in the dime package and prevent any reasonable passing offense. While it's frustrating to watch, most running teams will still occasionally send a deep ball with some success (think Chicago with Berrien, for example) and most passing teams will still sometimes try to run the ball (think the draw on 3rd and 8 that the Pats occasionally run with Faulk).

I'd argue that most ultimate offenses with some type of thought behind them will occasionally realize that whatever they're built upon isn't taking advantage of the deep/short game enough and score an easy point or two based upon the opposite strategy, but don't reach the optimal mix from a game theory perspective for a few reasons:
1) The theory behind the offense dictates the opposite strategy, so that's the default
2) Players who deviate from the offense get benched
3) The theoretical offense is "comfortable" and people don't like doing things that they're uncomfortable with
4) The optimal game theory mix is different for different games/defenses
5) It doesn't really matter for many games if you reach that mix, and teams don't want to change in the close games.

Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

These comparisons on paper neglect the human factor. Many sports come down to winning individual matchups. You may be team D, because you're built to be team D, so you're going to play to your strength. You could be team A, but be playing a team with gifted deep defenders, so you might need to modify your style.

Your strategy is only as good as the personnel you have to execute.

My guesses:

Team A: Johnny Bravo
Team B: Sockeye
Team C: FG
Team D: DoG

parinella said...

I agree, anon, that teams are going to have different strategies based on the players they have. But the abilities for the most part just determine whether they're in the A/B group or the C/D group. To a lesser extent, their hucking and cutting skills separate A from B, but my point is that most of what separates A from B is simply decision-making about what constitutes a good deep look.

A team like B is not a HnH team, although I probably called them that before. A team like A can still succeed if they have great athletes who can make plays, but I can't help but think that they'd be even more successful if they eased toward B a little bit.

Jackson said...

"[team] A will chuck it any time the receiver has a step and they can get the throw off"

Assuming that the reciever is making the deep cut dictacted by the team's offense (not just running somewhere towards the endzone), and getting the throw off means getting a good throw off (not one that is going to blade at the ground or something like that), why shouldn't the throw go off?

The only 2 other factors that I can think of are:
1. making sure there are no other defenders covering the deep area
2. making sure that the deep cut is coming from shallow so that the receiver won't have to break stride when running down the disc

Are those the factors that would reduce the deep shots from being attempted 50% of the time to 20%?

Bobby Jones 2.0 said...

why shouldn't the throw go off?

Because you believe there is another play that leads to a higher likelihood of scoring. Open by a step requires either a perfect throw or a good play by the reciever, or both. Open by 4 steps does not require this.

Sockeye is clearly A, and is probably the best suited team for that strategy.

Any team with Jim on it is D, unless Count is also on that team...