Thursday, April 26, 2007

On game tape

I love watching game tape. Being a mostly defensive coach my goal is almost always to see what offenses a team runs, what they do with their dumps, who their main cutters are (and how they cut) and how they respond to a zone.

This weekend at regionals we will be watching tape on saturday night in preparation for sunday play. I was wondering what other things people have found useful to focus on while watching tape. I feel that game tape us under utilized in ultimate, not only because there isn't as much of it, but more because people either aren't looking for the right things, or aren't translating what they see into coaching points for their players well. Ideas?


D. Smith said...

I like to look for certain 'tells' that players may have. For instance, you might notice that a handler always uses a head-fake before throwing an invert flick. You can tell the defenders guarding that player to look for the invert if they get a head-fake. You may also notice that another handler likes to go up the line after putting his hand up for the dump throw, so the defender needs to sit on the up-the-line cut and let the handler get the disc behind the thrower. I've also noticed player relationships, such as #21 always cuts for the invert flick if he is in the front of the stack and #23 has the disc or #5 and #12 like to run give-and-goes when they're handling together, but #5 doesn't run the give-and-go with #23.

One of the biggest things you can pick up on is release points. If #23 always throws the invert flick right at ankle level, you may be able to get some footblocks. Lots of players throw their breakmark throws from the exact same spot every time, so the marker can focus on taking away that one spot and force the thrower to do something they're less comfortable with.

Coach Becker said...

It is underused.

I think another reason for this is that it's tough to get a good angle on the action. Ultimate is most like basketball or soccer in its movements: action away from the ball/disc is just as important as, perhaps more important than, the action near the ball/disc. Unfortunately, most ultimate is not played in a stadium with a press box and grandstands to mount high cameras on. Instead, we more often play on a vast, flat expanse. Thus, the eye-level shot has limited utility as far as discerning schemes and strategies.

So . . . that being said, I use tape all the time with my kids, but I focus mostly on fundamentals.

"You're overcommiting on the force side when marking."

"Stop back-pivoting. I saw you turn it over 3 times during the game after a back-pivot."

"Work on clearing harder. I saw several potential cuts shut down because you were clogging the lane."

Not with such directness, but those are the sorts of issues I attack using game film--usually in a one-on-one context and always one skill at a time. I then make certain to monitor that aspect of Johnny Swillster's game and positively reinforce him when he cleans it up.

I'm working towards a situation where we can view game tapes as a team and have discussions of what we see going on. I think dialogue like that (of course, guided by a prepared individual or brain-trust) can be EXTREMELY beneficial in helping a team clean up its play and help them "gel" on the field.

parinella said...

I'd say d. smith is on the right track. Even the best players in the game do the same thing over and over, because it works against even the best players in the game. Now, there is also a certain amount of live reading of the opponent, but it is still based on an expectation that given that the defender has done A, he will now do B (and if he had done C, he will do D). For instance, step out to throw the anvert, if the defender steps out also, you pivot back. If he doesn't step out, you throw it. Thus, if defender knows this, he waits to step out until the thrower has committed based on not reacting.

Now, whether you will be able to learn anything through an evening of random, full-field videotaping is another question. Maybe you should identify the teams you'll play and do a StudCam every point on one of them. Or use your free time to do the same with your players' eyes.

Martin said...

Thanks for the feedback. I completely agree that most of the tape I end up getting seems to be random play. However I seldom make my players watch that. I usually import it and cut it down to a few plays and points that I want to highlight.

I really like the idea for a StudCam to focus on a single player and their tells. It seems that at regionals the difference in games will be made by key players at key times, and being able to spend time with their defender the night before watching them play would be beneficial.

Martin said...

As a follow up to this thread; the game tape worked pretty well this weekend. Emory was able to win the AC region for the first time in school history and going through two tough opponents in UGA and Florida (respectively). Watching tape of Florida v. James Madison the night before allowed me to key in on why they always seemed to swarm anything in the air.

Watching StudCam wasn't as big as advantage as I was hopong since the camera people were zoomed in a little too far to get context on the field and it always seemed that we were watching a player during one of their down points. Perhaps it was because Florida isn't a team that just beats you senseless with the same player over and over again, but we didn't exploit individual weaknesses as well as we recognized the way their teams plays as a whole.

The two things that I found myself focusing on were making sure that our offense could be as efficient as possible by understanding how their defense plays so that we can change our first and second looks to areas that are undercovered, and learning what their first looks were so that our defense would take that away and force the to start looking for their second, third and fourth options. I was very happy with the results of those two focuses. I felt that our team didn't get too focused on one side of the field and looked to the undercovered area quickly. I also felt that our team didn't give them many easy goals, and always made them work 50+ yards to score. I know that in the college mens game that isn't a big deal. But in college women's, where there are so many more turnovers, making them take 8-12 passes to score instead of 2-5 the odds of getting it back go up exponentially.

I don't know if those feelings are true, or just my response from the sidelines. We're watching the tape tomorrow night and I'll be able to see then.

Martin said...

To close out this thread . . .

Now that the tape of the finals has been watched, I can see distinct instances where my players utilized the strategies (especially offensive) we discussed based on tape to gain easy advantages.

We will be going to Nationals at the end of May, and I am now pondering whether or not I want to bring the camera. It is a valuable tool, however it is very time consuming, and Im not sure if that is a worthwhile expenditure for a tournament that we aren't expecting to win (I'd put us at a Semis birth at best).