Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nations - Game Tape

Well, I certainly would like to write about what happened in each of our games but Jacob from CSULB came to Ohio and graciously video taped most of our games. He did really good work, so here it is. This is more of a summary than I could ever write:

Game 1 Standford 12-15L
Game 2 Michigan , pt.2 10-15L

Game 3 Minnesota , pt.2 13-14L
Game 4 UVA, pt.2 12-15:

Game 5: Georga 15-11W!
Game 6: Luther - no video 12-14L
Game 7: NC State (SCHWAAAAAAAAANNNN!!!) - no video 15-13W!

Check out Amy "Meeko" Chang's photos of the Squid's (and some others) games

Full UPA score reporter on the tournament. (Notice that pool D was the toughest: D had the fewest single didget losses, two of them being 15-9, and we put 3 teams in the quarters) Each game was very tight and each opponent gave us a really tough game. Each loss felt very very winable.

Once again, big props to Jacob Baumer of Longbeach for the videos and Meeko for the photos.

Other fans that made the trek include: Nami, Wormser, Kubiak, and Soda's parents (and their cowbell). Thank you very much to them.

Oh, and btw, you should have this link too.

PS- Way to go Team USA!!! I don't really have much affinity for any of our National teams in any sport except in Ultimate. I am really proud to be a part of US Ultimate

Crossfiting Movements

2009 Crossfit Games

I am feeling good about my recent Crossfiting. One the things that I felt was odd when I started (and I assume is a big initial back off for many potential Crossfit newbies) was the that there were so many different movements that needed learning and practicing - at least with leg extention machines, you don't have to be worried about form. Overhead squats, kipping pullups, muscle ups... who has time to learn that stuff? It all seems like a heck of a lot of initial investment - I certainly understand why someone, epecially someone that is not that interested or dedicated to training, might decide to stick to their "gym routine" because its simpler.

But I have been realizing that just as the physics/kinimatics part of Crossfit (P=F*d/t) turns on the nerd in me, the multible new movements turns on the mountain climber in me (Why did I climb that mountain? Because it was there.) Each movement presents its own challange to be mastered with practice and then is always scalable meaning that no matter how good you are at a movement, you can always just go faster or do more weight. Yes, the leg extention allows you to add as much weight as you like, but in addition to not requiring any practice to be able to do the movement, it encorporates none of the flexibility, balance, coordination, accuracy, and agility required to proform things such as Snatches.

Well I've been into Crossfit for at least a year now and I feel that I am am finally focusing MORE on improvement then on practicing technique: I've got the kipping pullups (sort of) and the snatch and the box jumps and the the presses and the row and the deadlifts. I need work on my double unders and handstand pushups and have yet to do a muscle up cause I don't have rings, but I am really able to attack a workout now. Its not as though all the time spent working on form is not working out, doing anything requiring flexibility, balance, coordination, accuracy, and agility is working toward fitness, its just that now that I feel like I have most of the movements under control, I can really make some gains in Power.

Here is what I have done recently:

7 1ROM Max. Deadlifts:
235 245 265 285 295 310Fail 300 New PR

Grace - first time ever doing it as Rx'd
30 135# Clean&Jerk

4 Rounds - After 10k bike ride
5 95# SumoDeadlift - Highpull
5 95# Push-Press
5 Pullups

Clean&jerk PR: 145
Snatch PR: 110
1K Row Pr: 3:29

With the aquired ability to do all these cool movements, I feel able to program workouts for myself that allow me to work on my weaknesses and produce maximum power. The body's feelin' good.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nationals - beforehand

Photo by Meeko

The Squids traveled to Columbus Ohio for 4 days of the highest level of ultimate college has to offer. I left Wednesday night and got back Tuesday morning so that's a pretty nice vacation right in the middle of Spring quarter. What a trip.

I apologize to my thousands of loyal readers for taking so long to write about this; after Nationals, all I could really focus on was graduating (we all know that's not true.) Additionally I'm sorry that this recap isn't going to have many specific details - I used to have a photographic (or videographic) memory for what happened during games but I have seemed to have lost some of that now that I am actually playing a lot. I guess as a sideline player, its easy to give some focus up to being a fan and thinking about big plays, but as a starter your focus is devoted to the next point. Thus, what I write here is going to be less Costas and Content and more Gestalt and Gonzo.

My flight was a red eye. Boy did that suck. Few snacks, little sleep, and zero aisle seats even though I requested them when I bought my ticket - apparently you have to ask a human to be guaranteed a particular seat. I got to our rooms at the Red Roof Inn around 8am Thursday feeling like shit.

I was awoken from my floor nap by my teammates playing "Don't wake up Pumba" with Cheerios. They did happen to wake me. With Cheerios.

People were gonna walk over to the field site to have a look around and feel it out. I go, but not before I pick up some food. It seems that all I have eaten for the last however many million hours I'd been in airports, the only thing I'd had to eat was dried fruit and processed carbohydrates (chips, pretzels) so I decided to go big on the protein: sliced turkey breast, salami, and an entire rotisserie chicken. I kid you not, I sucked every delicious piece of meat off that carcass over the 20 minute walk.

We threw around and we all looked sloppy. Hopefully it was the jet lag. The first game was early the next day so we planned a team meeting right after the last flight got in with hopes of actually getting good sleep. Waiting for them, I decided to go for a run to loosen up. Running with music or with a partner can be great for getting your mind off the running but running solo in perfect weather at dusk was just what I needed to clear my head and meditate a little and take a physical inventory (Z.T.s 5/19/03) . I ran along the river and into OSU's massive campus, I try to sneak into the football stadium but they keep that place pretty well locked up. The legs are feeling good; a little tightness in the hips was disconcerting, but my ankles - which I was really worried about - gave me few problems after I was warmed up.

The thing I meditated most on was jitters. Our team, like any other, experiences wide ranges of exhibited skill game to game and point to point and jitters is one of the the largest reasons why we play below our expected level. These jitters appear at the beginning of a tournament or the beginning of a day. I really like how Coach Stuart made a point of acknowledging jitters before the start of regionals and the night before our first game in Columbus, but I think we should do a lot more. One of the most consistent things I can remember about my 4 years is how we've consistently been effected by early jitters (but this observation for another post). On this run I tried to do some visualization of what it was gonna be like to receive the first pull the next day, ran over play calls in my head, practiced calling "disc space" (or "dispace"), and thought about the curious sensation of butterflies in my stomach. The 40 yard curving forehand looked beautiful in my mind and I was ready.

I awoke as I always do before tournament days: 20 minutes before my 6am alarm. I could tell, even in the early morning, that the day was going to be a hot one and tried to find a store that would sell ice but nothing opened until 7:30 when we would be at the fields. I resigned myself to a McDonald's breakfast, a latte from the hotel lobby, stretching and anticipation. I go back to the rooms and help wake people up. Nothing particular happens that morning, we all pack our bags for the day and go downstairs. We joke a little but its pretty clear what everyone is thinking intensely about. The cars fill, the doors close, and we leave for the fields.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

10 Stages of Wind Throwers

Photo by Amy "Meeko" Chang

Ultimate players have interesting relationships with wind. While the majority of athletes play their sport almost completely unchanged in blustery conditions, there is no denying that Ultimate is a radically different game in calm then in calamity. I see that there are 10 stages one goes through in his relationship with playing in wind. These are a combination of mental, physical and skill stages.

10 Stages of Wind Throwers:

1. Unaware

- All your throws suck, they are mostly incomplete no matter what, so you don’t really notice the wind. You just don’t think about it.

2. Bewildered

- First real wind generated turnover. You though you could do something like throw a simple forehand but it gets ripped out of your hand or goes sideways or pops 30 feet straight into the air. You are amazed at the power and randomity of the wind.

3. Frustration

- You seem to be progressing in all other skills but don’t seem to be going anywhere in terms of throwing effectively in the wing.

4. Anger

- “This isn’t real Ultimate!”. Playing in the wind sucks and everyone around you knows how much you hate it.

5. Realization

- The other team has to playing the same conditions, might as well sack up and start working on your wind game.

6. Acceptance

- You don’t really know how, but you seem to manage to be able to throw and play in the wind

7. Self-awareness

- You have a basic understanding of the wind game and why you are able to play well in whatever capacity you actually do.

8. Better

- People are impressed with your wind throws. You are impressed with your wind throws. You still get those panges of dread when you are looking straight into the wind and a 6’2’’ cup on the trapped sideline. You get mad at yourself and your teammates for wind turnovers.

9. Advanced

- You don’t get mad anymore. You’ve accepted that there will be more turnovers but you see them as less random and more controllable. You play to maximize percentages. You focus, you help your team mates focus, and you play well.

10. Unaware

-You don’t consciously think about the wind and this appears as you not even noticing the wind. It’s not that you have any throw, it’s just that you automatically, subconsciously have a set of things that work in any particular situation. There isn’t a chance that you blindly attempt a throw you don’t have at your disposal. You play within yourself.

One certainly does not simply progress from step to step, we all have moments of each. For a handler on a Nationals caliber team, I’m not that great of a wind thrower – my hammer and scoober, ceteris paribus are sub-par, yet I feel that I can comment on these stages because I know that I have experienced all these things. While this year I had perhaps my best run of wind points in the middle of the Cal-UCSD PrezDay Final when blades were just flying out of my hands with perfect arc and pinpoint distance and hangtime, I also sporadically felt those pangs of dread when I knew before I threw it that the forehand won’t be coming back inbounds.

I believe the thing to work on as a wind thrower are the obvious throwing and catching skills but also understanding home you can get marginal advantages here and there with strategy and tactics. If you think a upwind point is hopeless like a Stage4er, it is. Instead of thinking of 70 yards away as Yes, up winders will be hard to come by with 25 mph winds but 1 completed effort of intense focus might be all you need in a strict upwind/ downwind game.

When I was a sophomore the Squids had a handler, Prof, who was a great wind thrower – maybe the best I’ve ever played with (Seth Wiggins picking up on my club team for Solstice probably doesn’t count). He used to tell me he preferred wind to calm. Playing against a zone was a big puzzle and as a handler he got to solve it. I never understood him until this year. Playing in nice 80° San Diego sunshine was fun and playing in wind above 10 mph was a pain and something to be rightfully grumpy about (I was a Stage4er for a while). But perhaps now that I have better throws and some perspective on the game (and what wind games REALLY look like coughregionalfinalcough), I see the enjoyment of wind games. Yes it is a different game but it is no less Ultimate - both teams expereince the same conditions and if you like ultimate partially because of the cool things you can do with the disc, a zone game is the perfect time to unleash that thumber (not really).

PS- It happens to be my birthday today. Any suggestions on amazing things to do in the Bay Area?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Black Fly. Chardonnay.

I think it's ironic that of all the things Made In China, the fireworks we will be seeing today probably aren't.

Sorry for the hiatus in posting, ill be getting back on the horse soon.