Thursday, April 26, 2007

On subbing

I wonder if other coaches think about the psychological aspect of their subbing players when they call subs. We currently have a situation that I am waffling on and the reason why is because it is a situation where I think we should not play one of our best players on offense (reference Idris' post from a while ago?).

I have a player that is very good on both sides of the disc. She is a fast cutter who doesn't tire easily and she plays intelligent D. She is easily amongst our top seven players, however I find myself wanting to take her off of the starting O line because she is somewhat prone to drops. At the same time she also makes great catches at key moments.

My raionale is that she will be much more effective as a defensive starter who is expected to jump start the offense and move the disc on a turn that she would be as an offensive cutter. The team has plenty of offensive cutters, so she would be a tertiary target at best, but aside from that I wonder if her dropping the disc would have a lesser impact if we had already gotten a D.

On offense her drops can seem catastrophic since there is so much more pressure to score without a turnover. This leads to a stressful situation which I think increases her likeliness to drop the disc. On defense, while her drops may be costly, they shouldn't have the enormous impact they do on the other side of the disc because of the idea that defense doesn't have to be perfect. This should reduce the stress she feels and probably improve her catching.

So I guess the discussion I'm trying to start is whether or not anyone pays attention to their players generic mental state when scheming for that player or if people focus on putting their best players in at the most important times? Hell, if any discussion starts on this blog it would be a miracle.


wood said...

I look at it a little differently than you are suggesting, but it ends up being the same I think. I find myself often having to build up players' confidence in themselves (and other players confidence in them). One way I work to build confidence is through subbing. It's player dependent though, some players need to be put in a situation where they can excel, and then you slowly start putting them in more challenging situations. Others, simply need to be challenged, so they need to go in during big points, so that they can find out that they're good.

In your situation, it may be that you can start this player on D, let them make a few plays, then put them in on O. Depending on the player, you might want to put them in on O when you're up big, to help them build confidence, or throw them in during a tough point and verbally challenge them to step up.

PS - AJ keeps bugging me about part 3 of the ultimate fitness article, about weight lifting. I keep telling him that was your section. Apparentally it would start a lot of discussion...

Rich said...

I think the dropsies point is largely irrelevant. A turnover is a turnover regardless of the context. The more salient point is that on the D team, this player will key the offense, while providing good defense (apparently better D than the player who replaces her on the O line), giving her a much higher VORP on defense than on offense, where as a tertiary target she is relatively easily replaced. I often feel that having as many of the top 7 defenders on the D line as possible, while still having an efficient O line is the best way to break things up. This is, of course, very dependent on the level that you're coaching.

The real bottom line may be players feel like they're less important if they are on the D line? If so, why?

gapoole said...

It's a different situation for every player. As a freshman on a college team, I found myself unhappy with my playing time in the early season. I felt underused at times, and I'd often be taken out after a good D or score, so it made me try to stay in for as many points as I could. I later realized that this didn't help the team, and tried to play harder and sub more often. Once our coach started calling lines (at Sectionals), he told me personally that he wanted to use me on offense almost exclusively, and he outlined how I could help on O.

That did a couple things. First, I knew what he expected of me. Also, I knew what I could expect of him, and of the tournament. I sometimes itched on the sideline and thought I could contribute on D, and wondered why I wasn't put in on D--wasn't I good enough, wouldn't I work hard enough to force turns? But that conversation really allowed me to keep my mind in check. I think that the communication here is what I'm trying to stress. I don't have much experience trying to build up a player, other than peers when I captained high school Ultimate. But I know that a clear idea of what's going on helps me as a person who hopes/expects to get real playing time in games.

bali_ultimate said...

Doesn't help, but reminds me of an old family story. Legion ball in south dakota, championship game, other team has an absolute mauler of a 17 year old, homered once, hit it hard but made out once. Ninth inning, runner on second, mauler at the plate. One run lead. Mound conference. My stepfather, the catcher, and the coach at the mound. On the way to the mound my stepfather says to the coach "don't tell him to walk this guy, it will ruin his confidence and he's pitching great." Coach took his advice. They pitched. As my stepfather, now dead, liked to say "that ball is probably still going." The hitter? Young Roger Maris.