Wednesday, February 23, 2005

On Programs

I’ve been noticing a lot of people throwing the term “program” around on RSD recently, and I can’t say that I’m totally confident that I know what it means. However, I do think it’s a somewhat interesting topic as several of us are essentially building teams up from the ground up. For me it’s been interesting to compare the rate of development among the three classes of rookies I’ve had. Each year, the rookies have developed more quickly than the previous year. When I talk about development here I’m talking about it independent of athletic ability. In other words, we all cases where a rookie comes out and is a sick athlete and can help you right away purely by virtue of their athleticism. When I talk about development, I’m just talking about picking up the real nuts and bolts of the game – what pass do I throw in this situation, what cut do I make in this situation. In any event, each of my rookie classes has developed more rapidly than the class that preceded them. Hopefully, some of this can be attributed to the fact that I’ve learned a little bit about coaching and I’m doing a better job than I have in the past. However, I think more of this developmental pattern can be attributed to the fact that we’ve finally laid the foundation for a real program. (Note: I don’t think we’ve developed a true program yet, but I think we have laid the groundwork and if things continue in the next 2 years as they have in the last 2 then Emory should have a sustainable program).

Just saying we’ve poured the foundation for a program is a little abstract (although the metaphor is strangely concrete) so let me try to be a little more specific about what I have in mind. I think the biggest factor in the more rapid development process is just that there are more players ahead of the rookies in school that have developed good fundamentals. As a result, rookies always throw with someone who knows how to throw; they always play with people who have an idea of how to play etc. For this reason, new rookies are less likely to develop bad habits. The reason I say that Emory hasn’t fully developed a program yet becomes clear when you look at the distribution of experience. Emory has 1 player in her fifth year, 1 in her fourth, 2 in their third, 8 in their second and 8 in their first. Given this distribution rookies are primarily learning from watching/playing against second year players. Presumably, next year’s rookie class will develop faster because they’ll learn primarily from 3rd year players, and the following year’s class will develop even faster because they’ll learn primarily from 4th year players. After that the rate of development should plateau as every subsequent class should be learning primarily from fourth year players. It seems to me that as long as a program can continue to recruit 7 or 8 motivated players every year they should be able to produce strong teams pretty much indefinitely. This is what I think it means to have a program. True programs can literally reload every year because as their stars graduate they have a new crop of experienced players to step in.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Anybody have a good drill for practicing throwing to covered players?

Any other favorite drills? Always looking for new throwing drills to mix things up a bit.


Brief Cutting Basics

I sent this out to my team the other day.
Movement on the ultimate field comes in three types: 1) primary cuts, 2) continuation cuts, 3) active clearing cuts.

Primary cuts are the first cuts that occur off a stopped disc or the first cut in a called play. The primary cutter should strive to move into a “sweet spot” where the cutter can actively threaten two throwing areas. The primary cutter then should then utilize a fake or a juke to force the defender to commit and then proceed into the open space. The most obvious example of this type of cut is when a cutter is lined up at the back of the stack and makes a hard fake to the house before changing direction and coming back toward the thrower. It’s always easier to force a defender to commit if she is already moving, so the primary cutter should strive to be in motion prior to juking.

Continuation cuts are cuts that come from motion within the flow of the offense. The most important aspect of continuation cuts is timing. The continuation cutter should actively move her defender in the opposite direction of where she wants to go while watching the play develop. Ideally, the continuation cutter is changing direction at the exact moment the thrower is catching the disc. Separation from the defender occurs when the cutter changes direction.

Active clearing cutters are the unsung stars of efficient offense. The clearing cutter actively moves her defender out of the way of the teammates’ cutting lanes. It’s perhaps easiest to explain this through examples. The good cutter lined up at the front of the stack makes a hard fake to the break side (in order to keep her defender occupied) when she notices a teammate cutting in off the back of the stack. The deep cutter sprints back toward the disc (bringing her defender with her) when she sees a teammate breaking free on a cut to the house. Efficient offense is the result of 7 players unselfishly doing what it takes to get each other open.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

PDA Stats

Has anyone used the PDA stat program? Any thoughts on it? The cost of PDA's has come down so much recently I was thinking about breaking down and buying one. Sure would be nice to not have to tally all of my stats at the end of a weekend.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Thoughts on Man D by Noah

The way I see it, there are two aspects of man D - playing shut-down defense and creating blocks. The ideal you should strive for is to be able to shut down your man while being able to get a block every once in a while, or be able to get blocks while not letting your man get into dangerous positions on the field. In some ways, these two aspects are contradictory to each other (i.e. if you are entirely focused on shut down defense, you may miss an opportunity to get a block, and if you poach off your man you will obviously not be shutting him down). So, it's important to be able to do each one, and once you can do each of these then the combination of knowing when to do what.

In practice, you may want to go into a defensive point with the mindset that, for the whole point, you are going to deny your man from ever touching the disc. Likewise, you might want to take the mindset that you are going to employ any means necessary to get a block. Sometimes it will work but obviously not always. (Note: If your captain/coach/teammate yells at you for not playing the way they want you to play, make sure not to tell him/her I said it was okay. It's just something that might be helpful in working on developing each aspect of the so-called defensive mindset.) I guess that the overall message here is to play shutdown D but try tobe aware of any possibilities to get a block. When that opportunity presents itself (or a split second before it does, if you can predict what's about to happen), it's sometimes o.k. to go for the block instead of staying right on your guy ( the block could come either in the open lane, deep, around the dump, or somewhere else on the field, depending on how the play develops).But, get back to your guy ASAP once the chance for the block has decreased or disappeared. Or, if you baited the thrower into making a bad throw toyour guy, lay out past him and get the D.

About Getting Better by Noah

It is very hard to improve as a player by waiting for advice from others. The best players and the ones who improve the most are those who actively seek it out. In general, frisbee players aren't the type to go out of their way to instruct others. Some of the best times for learning about the game are when someone asks a more experienced player (or even an equally skilled teammate) about a scenario, or about a play that happened, etc. The people who turn into the best players are the ones who ask the veterans on their team whenever they have a question about anything. They are the ones who ask their teammates "what happened?" when they are involved in a play that went wrong but only saw part of the play. They are the ones who email their captains and coaches when they are up late and randomly think of an ultimate-related question.

2-4-1 Update

Thanks to Wood and Parham for the 2-4-1 tips. I've moved the poppers back a bit more and we've started really focusing on going over the cup for short passes to the poppers or around the cup with handler-handler swings with an upfield continuation to the poppers. It's looking a lot smoother in practice. QCTU is this weekend so we'll see how it looks in real action.


Site Update

Thanks to everyone who has sent me posts. For those of you who sent posts to my gmail account, I haven't forgotten about you. I've just been really busy the last few days. I'll try to get the posts up tonight.


RedZONE Defense by Wood

One of the main reasons teams play zone defense is to prevent the opponent from being able to score quickly, particularly on deep shots.
The defense allows the offense to make lots of shorter passes in the hopes of actively getting a D, the elements (wind) causing a turnover, or the offense simply making a mistake and turning the disc over. The defense prevents longer, high reward passes and encourages shorter, low reward passes. Once the offense gets into the redzone, however, even short passes become high reward because you don't have very far to go. Traditional zone defenses don't work very well in the redzone for this reason. So, defenses will often switch to man when they get into the redzone. Man is no longer disadvantaged because the deep shots are taken away. However, there can be matchup problems, either because you're playing mixed, or simply because of height or speed differences among players.
What if, instead of switching to man defense, you were able to switch to a different zone defense that was designed specifically for the redzone? What would a such a zone look like?
I have considered the idea only briefly and came up with the following plan. It's pure theory as I haven't yet been able to test it on the field. There are lots of weaknesses, so I'd be curious to see other's thoughts on what kind of zone would work on a shorter field.
A common redzone poaching scheme is clam-like, with poachers on the open and break side and someone to take away the zipper. Then deeper open and break poaches. I've seen this most often off a stopped disc
(timeout) when defending a center stack. I don't see this being quite as effective when switching from a zone, because the offensive players are already spread out.
Let's look at where our defenders are, just in general. We probably already have 2-4 cup/marker types near the disc. We've got a wing on each side, a short deep, and a deep deep. While different zones may have positions doing different things, these are the basic areas that must be covered so we'll assume someone is there or can get there quickly. If we can take away the short break pass, the break wing can take away the scoring hammer to the back of the endzone by himself.
Using the mark and one other cup/marker, we should be able to take away the short break pass. Have the marker force flick hard and not allow the around backhand. Have the other person take away the invert flick and the flick through the middle. The third cup/marker and the open side wing should set up on the open side short. The short deep stays in his normal position, the deep deep slides to the open side to take away the deep open-side option. This will force the offense to move the disc short and to the open side, hopefully out of the endzone. As the disc moves closer to the open sideline, the marker/cub can get more aggressive in taking away the dump and forcing a low percentage shot into the goal on the open side where most of our defense is. The deep defenders can allow receivers to get behind them, using the back of the endzone as an extra defender.
Unfortunately there are several weaknesses in this defense. The short deep/off wing have to really watch out for the dump-swing. Short breaks such as scoobers to open receivers can be pretty easy to complete. Perhaps pulling the off-wing up and challenging the offense to complete the high risk hammer to the back of the endzone is a better idea.