Monday, December 19, 2005

One Coach's Plan for a Semester

Idris talked about why frisbee blogs are a good source of information (at the very least, I seem to be getting all my post ideas from Idris, whether that's good or bad), and I agree. I actually think it's a good first step in developing a solid base of knowledge that our sport needs before making the next step.

So...this weekend I laid out the plan for this semester for the college team I coach. I figured I'd post the general outline here, realizing that this is not the best plan for every team (or possibly even my team), but maybe there is a good idea in there somewhere that you can take, or maybe you can use it as a starting point. If anyone has any suggestions for changes/additions, I'd be interested in those as well.

Basics: We have 3 (3 hour) practices a week. Mondays and Thursdays are normal practice, on Tuesdays we scrimmage a local pickup team. We have a pretty small team, with 7-10 guys at practices, so the plan reflects that limitation.

Topics: A list of strategy/tactical points to cover, in the order I plan on teaching. The idea is to give at least one week's practice to each topic. In the past I've laid out how many weeks to spend on particular topics, but this year I've just got a list, if we need more than a week to cover it, we'll take it. Once I feel we've covered it enough, we'll move on to the next topic. The topics are pretty basic. It would be helpful to someday post specific discussion points and drills for each topic. One day hopefully. (Jim and Zaz's book is a good place to look for info on all these topics).

Dump-Swing/Dump Defense
Trap Dump/Dump Defense
Straight stack offense/Man Defense
Brick and set plays/Man Defense
Redzone offense/Man Defense
Redzone set plays/Man Defense
Zone offense/2-3-2
Zone offense/alternate zone defenses

If we get through all that we'll probably just review what we've done so far, or possibly look to add some new topics if need be (H-stack, more zone d's, more redzone setplays, etc.)

Practice Templates: A basic outline that we'll follow at every practice.

Speedwork (1-5 sprints/shuttles/starts/etc.)
10 Throw (10 flat backhands/forehands, 10 invert backhands/forehands, 10 outvert backhands/forehands, and 10 hammers)
1 Regular Drill (Not necessarily specific to the weekly topic, just working on general skills. ie 3 person marking drill, mushroom drill, throwing drill, etc.)
Discuss Weekly Topic (diagram on the whiteboard, hand out review material, answer questions)
Walk-through Weekly Topic
Weekly Topic Drills/Games

10 Throw
Warmup Drill (whatever you prefer, I see a lot of mushroom, but we use a goto drill)
Weekly Topic reminder/team discussion
Game/Weekly Topic Review and Questions

10 Throw
1 Regular Drill
Discuss Weekly Topic - answer questions
1-2 Weekly Topic Drills
2-3 Regular Drills
Game (ideally 7 on 7, more likely 3 on 3, hotbox, etc.)


luke said...

i realize that the weather is less of an issue there than in the real world... but, why not do white board/ walk through first, THEN warm-up/ drill/ play...

You have 7-10 guys for practice, and you need to practice for 3 hours? Maybe a little less, and then just have them throw for an hour. Take some of that time and have them go to the gym in the morning. Or have them practice 6 days per week for 1.5 hours...

wood said...

Good point on the discussion/walkthrough beforehand. I like to break up the action some, have a hard drill and then let them rest, but in the cold weather I'll probably try to group drills together more and talk at the beginning of practice.

Practice doesn't generally really last for 3 hours. We usually get started after about a half hour, with players showing up from classes that let out late and throwing until everyone is there. At the end we run intervals as a team, but that doesn't take too long, and then people hang out to throw.

We had done more/shorter practices in previous years, and had problems getting much accomplished. We moved to 3-3 hour practices last year and got a lot more done. I personally prefer longer practices, less time wasted warming up, able to do multiple drills on a topic, etc. Have you found that shorter practices are better?

luke said...

well, if practice starts at some random time between 2 and 2:45 in the minds of your team... well, you can't do practice.

If (As it should be) you are late if you are not on time, and you show up EARLY to throw, and do any extra warming up, well, short works fine.

Sounds like short is a pipe dream for you...

wood said...

Yes, unfortunately it's a small college with a good many evening classes, making practices hard to fit in. Add to that the low numbers... I've always been tempted to be a hardass about showing up to practice on time, etc. but I can't afford to run anyone off.

Anonymous said...

Mushroom Drill?

Like a lot of things in Ultimate, we probably use the same drills, but have different names for them. So which one is the mushroom?

Comments: 3 on 3 ultimate will only get a team so far. 3 on 3 is great to start with: gets those six players a lot of touches (let's a player get comfortable w/ the disc, makes them quick/alert to get the disc moving, creates chemistry, forces a player to think ahead about setting up the next cut). A good 3 on 3 has a thrower, dump and sole cutter (he's like a stack all to his own) and have them rotating. Only drawback is not having the four other guys in the stack, who don't get the opportunity to time their cuts or learn the value of being "stationary" in the stack.

7 on 7, can't win without them.

wood said...

Mushroom aka endzone drill. Two lines down the middle of the endzone, cut to the cone, swing the disc around to the other side... I don't personally like it.

I agree 7 on 7 is invaluable, that's why I have a weekly scrimmage scheduled. I wish we could do 7 on 7 in all practices, maybe next year if we recruit well.

Gambler said...

Without enough players to field a 7 on 7 game, one thing I've found that can work well to simulate flow and field space is to run your offense with no defense. 7 v. 0 essentially. Doesn't sound that hard, but the key is to have specific rules for each time you run through it, i.e. whenever you blow a whistle the thrower has to hit the dump instead of a downfield cutter, players can only throw the continue if the timing of the cut is perfect, or the first cut on every stall count is presumed to be covered, etc. It's also helpful for learning how to run new pull plays.

Seigs said...

Luke, Wood: Why so much emphasis on static throwing? I've decided not to spend any practice time throwing in non-game situations--and especially without a mark.

Why do you guys find value in it?

mark said...


Why not static throwing? Yes, you should have a great deal of marked throwing and throwing and running, but frankly, static throwing is very effective IF you take it seriously and if you do it enough. If you practice marked throws and you don't take it seriously, well, you don't get a lot better there either.

It's also hard to get in as many reps with marked throwing as you can with static throwing. I'd also argue that once you're competent at throwing throws on the open side are nearly independent of the mark. In that case, it's really unimportant whether there's a guy marking you as you throw it back and forth 500 times.

Sure, there should be more emphasis on throwing break mark or nearly break mark throws, but there is a place to refine your release and disc control with static throwing.

wood said...

We've got a big mix of ability levels. Our 10 throw fits different abilities well. For the newer players I think it's simply important to learn to throw the different throws, and it's easier to concentrate on your form and get lots of reps in with 'static' throwing. For more experienced players, I have them refine their form, and work on varying release points etc. Then we'll take that and apply it to a marked drill or something. Ideally, I'd have them throwing on their own every day and not have to spend practice time on it.

I also agree with Mark that it needs to be serious, I try to limit the chit-chat and have them concentrating on their form, pivoting, faking, etc.

I guess I just think it lets the player concentrate completely on the throwing motion, then we'll add complexity in other drills.

Seigs said...

Mark, Wood, I see where you are coming from.

I've found that--at least personally--I rarely ever throw with a mark like I do when I throw without one (even when throwing seriously). So I find static throwing to work on little more than wrist-snapping. In other words, I think there is more valubale ways to spend practice time. For instance, I prefer simple throwing drills with a mark and a cutter. True, you don't get as many reps, so perhaps there is a place for some static throwing just for repitition's sake...Although, like you say Wood, the ideal is to have guys throw a bunch before and after practice and on off-days.

Edelman said...

for new players, static throwing is key if for no other reason than familiarity with the disc. crawl then walk, man.

however, as you get better, i agree you should work less on "static" throwing and more on "dynamic" throwing (in my world, those two are opposites). but, a lot of times that option isn't available, so if you can discipline yourself to work on something while "static" throwing (ie getting low or pivoting quickly), it still has its place among the nobles.

luke said...

seigs, this is a troll right?

what 'emphasis' on static throwing. playing catch is what you do when you are getting ready to play, and then maybe when you are done. it's also what you do on your off days. it's what i have the kids do if i'm doing something (setting up for a different game or drill)...

also, if you are a new player, you have to learn to throw. if you are an old player, and you aren't able to 'throw like in a game' or in a game 'throw like you practice...'

here's another way to look at it. should you not practice jump shots without a defender?

for that matter, does every practice jumper have to be 'full elevation, ultra quick release?'

ok, final thing, lots of touches in a game have little opposition.

final thing: don't you like to play catch? or for that matter, have you never taken a stack of 20 discs out to throw by yourself?

Seigs said...

Nope, no troll.

Understood for new players. They have to learn the basics.

Basketball is a little different, I think. I very, very rarely throw in ultimate from a static position. Either have a mark or I'm in the power position (i.e. throwing as I am coming to a stop from moving forward). In basketball, you take plenty of static shots.

And I don't like playing catch all that much, to be honest. Don't even own 20 discs, and I rarely practice throwing by myself. Much rather drill with a mark.

Nate-dogg said...


With that attitude towards "static" throwing you'll never perfect the cute stuff. Just saying.

Edelman said...

nothing new in the ultimate strategy world for 2 months? seriously? entertain me!