Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Impressive Defense From Sockeye

A recent highlight clip of (the awesome) Timmy Perston of Portland Rhino from their recent upset of Sockeye at Labor Day:


The catch was cool but what really impresses me about that clip is Sockeye's defense. The disc moves a couple times but there was no flow. No continuation passes. Flashy is fun, but consistent and fundamentally sound defense wins tournaments.

I am really happy that more full-game video is becoming available. Highlights are good recruiting tools, but full field coverage that can show how team defense shuts down individuals and forces them to make tough plays like this one is what is really worthwhile as a teaching tool.

I would go so far as to say that I WANT to see more clips-of-the-day that show great team defense even if they don't include amazing feats of athleticism. A Streetgang'10 teammate,Matt  Welsh, helped me understand by explaining his defensive philosophy at our end-of-the-year party:
If everyone is working hard to shut down their man, eventually a bad throw go up that someone might have a chance to make an athletic play on. If everyone plays so that their teammate will get the D, someone will get the layout D.

Yes, this will get you turns, but not as many as coordinated team defense, and really, you only get the chance to do cool stuff like this if your teammates are working equally hard off the disc.

For a great exposition of the Sockeye team defense, check out the (almost full) gave vs Chain Lightning  in the Semis of Worlds in Prague. Most every time their D comes down on the pull they have a coordinated poaching strategy that becomes more strict ManD as the point goes on. Also, a beautifully executed vertical handler switch. Its too bad Ben Wiggins played O handler the last couple years, because while i like watching him play Handler, I love watching him play D and playing fast-break O after they get the disc back.

PS- If my total fanhood for Sockeye hadn't already reached tween-girl-for-Justin-Bieber status, I just found their awesome mix tapes that they make before each tournament and release to the pubic.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Advice for those new to training

Squat. Deadlift. Bench Press. Overhead Press. Pull Up. Box Jump. Run.

These are the important movements. Most everything else (without cleats) is a waste of time. To be honest, the rep and set and weight scheme for these movements are not nearly as important as the fact that you do them and you concentrate and focus on the form. Im talking, Get Anal Retentive About Form. I'm talking, Get a well trained coach to watch you and train you. Im talking, video tape yourself and study your to compare against competent people you find online. Having good form in these movements will: 1) help you train hard and effectively while avoiding injury as effectively as possible and 2) teach your body the right mechanics for on-field movement.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

THIS GAME SUCKED: Great Britain vs Sweden in the 2011 European Championships

In addition to the travesty that is this goalthe whole game was full of shitty, shitty outcomes inter-spaced with MINUTES of stoppage for players to talk about stupid, trivial shit. It's mindnumbingly boring to watch, but more importantly, I've experienced games like these, and they are boring and frustrating and funless to play it.

The commentators point out a few times that, despite the shittiness of the game, that

"This is what the game is about: self offication even at the highest levels"

Well I say:

Fuck No it's not, Ultimate is about Throwing and Catching and Running and Laying Out.

When self-offication gets in the way of these thing in such a disgusting way, we, as a community, have the responsibility to CALL PEOPLE OUT.While I am pro-third party, Im not NECESSARILY insisting on them in this post. Im saying that WE, as a community, can mold our games into whatever we want. And the way we do that, is by actually criticizing the stuff that fucks our game up. And criticizing harshly at that.

I'm not saying that the individuals who:

Squabble about coming back to the field .5 meters away from where you were going to be:

Argue about whether to come in at Stall2 or Stall3 for a WHOLE MINUTE:

And mark like this ensuring a marking foul on most every turnover:

are necessarily bad people, but the community must harshly criticize the behavior and the culture that leads to that behavior being accepted as normal. It doesn't have to be normal if we stand up and say we don't want to play like that. Lets take the SOTG requirement for inter-community critique seriously.

Fuck. That. Lame. Bullshit. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not Knowing the Rules IS REALLY UnSpirited

JohnAllan's RSD post about whether lacking rules knowledge is unspirited:

...the very best professional refs make terrible calls all the time. if your standard of 'good' vs 'bad' spirit relies on the absence of terrible calls, then no one that plays ultimate has good spirit. your standard becomes meaningless.

My response:
Professional refs may make terrible calls, but it is about bad perspective. They make bad calls because they saw something the wrong way; they go to great lengths to avoid these mistakes, but they are going to happen. The bad calls are NOT, however, due to a misunderstanding of the rules. I guarantee you that they could sit down and pass a written rules test with A+ every time because they TAKE THEIR RESPONSIBILITY SERIOUSLY.

I trained as a soccer referee for 8 years and we were constantly being evaluated, trained, tested and observed. When a bunch of us would get together for dinner at the end of a tournament, you know what we would talk about? The finer points of positioning on Corner Kicks from right footed players vs left footed players. Why? Because refs CARE and TAKE THEIR RESPONSIBILITY SERIOUSLY.

When and Ultimate player doesn't know where to set up after a pick or doesn't bother staying on sides, or contests something they shouldn't because they "don't know the rules" , I see that they do not take the heavy responsibility of Self Officiation seriously. It just blows my mind that people spend thousands of dollars a year and all their free time and don't spend the time to practice being a good referee. Read th fucking rules

Friday, August 26, 2011

Watch. Study. Adapt.

Simon Montague- brings the disc over the head when pivoting backhand to forehand against a tight mark.

Mike Caldwell -  push passes against force forehand near the endzone.

Brodie Smith  - stands tall and relaxed before making a juke to lull defenders into raising their center of gravity making them less able to react.

Spencer Wallis - lays out with 2 hands.

Jack McShane - hammer fakes as soon as he catches the disc

Andy Collins (and some of the other Furious guys) - fakes the forehand and follows through past the marker's head.

Parker Krug - low and wide stance with the disc forcing the mark to jump far is response to small hip movements

Ben Wiggins - sets up the throw-and-go by slowing down his pivoting and setting his grip with the left hand

Mark Sherwood - shifts his weight right, then left, then right again without really moving his feet when he wants to throw his inside forehand (which is all the time.)

David Billings - stand tall in forehand and throws the low release backhand with dipped left shoulder during the pivot, before the right foot gets all the way around.

Steve Prodan - fakes inside or openside backhand, 360 pivot to around flick huck.

Alan Kolick - Leans back before throws to that the marker comes with him to set up his throw and go.

Cole Sullivan -  does a really violent and quick shoulder pump when pivoting from forehand to throw the backhand huck.

Masahiro Matsuno (and lots of other Japanese players) - cock back the forehand high near their head like a blade.

The loaded flick.
If you aren't watching and studying your opponents and the best in the game to understand what they like to do and what they are uncomfortable with, you are missing out on the best way to get better. If you can't tell me at 12-12 what their main throwers like to throw, you aren't doing the mental work it takes to be a great defender. If you get broken the same way at the beginning of the season and at the end by a team you have seen multiple times, you can do better. To improve all the little things in your game, observe how other players do them.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Good Decisions

How many Good Decisions do you think you should HAVE to make in a point for your team to score?

Trick question.

If you are ever thinking "I just threw 2 sweet breaks in a row, my team should be able to score now" or "My cutting has been flawless, I've been roasting my man all point, we deserve to score"  then...

You don't throw with good form because that's what is going to score for you,
you do it because that's simply what you must do.

...you might as well quit.

When you step on the line, you don't deserve anything. There is no "good enough to score" unless your team actually scores the point.

When you step on the line, you commit to the whole point, not to just a few good plays.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Culture of Excellence

Ultimate teams take note. This video, along with Sockeye's awesome website  ( www.seattlesockeye.org - check out the player bios), is how to build a fan base and establish a culture of excellence. That culture of excellence is what makes them great year after year. Big props and much love to my favorite Ultimate Team, and my favorite sports team in general, Settle Sockeye.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Perfectionism is a Curse

Perfectionism can be a curse (and for me, is). Putting a large mental emphasis on things going just right has been bad for me in a few ways.

1. Very detailed mock ups of a project beforehand lead to disapointment. Nothing ever turns out the way its planned. Sometimes the end result looks very similar to the plan, sometimes they are worlds apart. Either way, the more one has invested in a very specific outcome, the more disappointed they are when it inevitably isn't so. Further, thinking about how the reality is unfortunately different than the mock up can cloud one's ability to see all the good of what actually is.

2. Perfectionism actually reduces the amount of productive output. I have twice as many blog posts in the drafts folder than I've actually published. If a project must meet an arbitrarily high standard for public display, sometimes only gold comes out ("To Kill a Mocking Bird"), but most times nothing comes out (after TKaMB, Harper Lee never published again and while she has been given numerous awards and honorary degrees, she always declines to give a speech). The thing is, most of us perfectionists have never written To Kill a Mocking Bird.

3. Perfectionism actually reduces  the quality of one's work. The perfectionist's head is filled with swirling, ebbing, and developing notions about how to make something just right.
"This part should be after that one." "Change the punctuation to this." "An additional explanation for this possibility is necessarily." "But what if they come with this response?" "Maybe I should wait to release this until later so that it will be received better?" 'This needs another edit." "What if this sounds too wordy?"
The perfectionist misses the forest for the trees. There is a time for all this mental drifting - normal people call it "Brainstorming". But such a process negatively effects the finished product -sometimes drastically so - when a perfectionist's head is full of these sorts of things while their word processor is empty the night before the due date. When that first daybreak chirp-chirp of the birds breaks through my window following the first few rays of the sun, I know perfectionism has screwed me again. The rough draft that was never done a week before because it wasn't even good enough for a rough draft would have been better than what a coffee-fueled insomniac can produce hours before the deadline. 

4. Perfectionism makes group-work very hard. Good groups work well because they develop ideas together. Everyone can buy into something they had a hand in creating. This process can be long, but its the right way to go. The perfectionist throws a ratchet in these gears because his is very uncomfortable sharing his half-formed ideas; he is very rude about pointing out the obvious faults in the half-formed ideas of  others. The perfectionist says: "If you want something done right, do it yourself." The person who enjoys sleeping at night and being friends with their coworkers is not as foolish.

5. Perfectionists can be made to feel bad when a flaw is found in their perfect idea. If a perfectionist manages to make something good enough to get past his own personally applied censors, there is a sense of pride that can be easily injured by any critic. If one gets in the habit of only expressing ideas of well-formed perfection, it can be a personal insult to take issue with them. Perfectionists can view their projects as children and a parent's blind love for child often clouds rational thought about that child after it has left the womb.

6. Habits of perfectionism promote habits of delinquency. More times than I care to count, I've have read an email, looked it over again, and put it away for later because I couldn't immediately come up with an appropriately perfect response. Then, it gets filled away again after a 2nd look the next day because I can't come up with an appropriately perfect apology for why I didn't respond yesterday. Talk about vicious cycle.  

In conclusion, perfectionism brings serious problems with it. Perfectionism ins't who I am, but I do notice perfectionists tendencies in myself sometimes and I am realizing how more often than not, they effect me adversely.

I realize the way to improve one's perfectionism is to practice just getting imperfect end-products out there. Hit SEND. One piece of advice I that seems apropos is:
 "For a clean desk, only touch each piece of paper once" 
This applies to incoming and outgoing office paperwork (and emails). But I think it applies much more broadly to mental paper.  A perfectionist holds onto all his ideas until they seem just right and the only result is that their mental desk is full, cluttered, and unorganized. 

Quite upsetting. 

Well screw that. This blog post went from idea to published in 1 hour. Perfectionist demons, take that.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crossfit Open Workout

The Shubbard Workout: Crossfit Open WOD 2 from Stephen Hubbard on Vimeo.
As part of the nationwide Crossfit Open Competition, Stephen Does:

As Many Rounds As Possible in 15 Minutes of:

9 155# Deadlifts

12 Pushups

15 24in Box Jumps

Final Score: 7rds+ 6 DLs

Thanks to http://pbcrossfit.com/ for letting me work out at their awesome gym.

For more on the Crossfit Open, check out: http://games.crossfit.com/

Music: Party Rock Anthem - LMFAO

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cutting is a Race

Cutting is a race to a spot.

And only the offense knows when the race starts.

And only the offense knows where the race ends, something that may change at anytime during the race.

So how can the defense possibly ever win this race?

By guessing when and where the race will go or by just being a very very fast racer. The only advantage the defense really has is that they many start anywhere on the race track they please.

Heaven help the offensive cutter who, before the fact, tells a defender when the race will start and where it will end.

Offense: Dont give up your advantage by telling the defender the race specifics beforehand.

Defense: Accept that you can only win races through the mental skill of guessing the race details - a skill that can be trained.

Its especially hard to win the race if the guy you are guarding is a track star.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Defense at a High Level

Well, since next week's Poaches topic will be defense, there is no better time to transcribe some thoughts that have been floating around about defense...

I have always been primarily a offensive player - I "get" offense at a much higher level so I have always been playing catch up in my D skills.

The first thing I really realized, is that someone should have told me how hard defense is. Its not as though I actively believed it was or should be easy, it is just that I had no idea that one must EARN turnovers at a high level. A defense that relies on being given the disc on unforced errors will not do very well.

So in that light, I will attempt to record some of my insights on how high level players and teams earn turnovers.

First, defenders must realize that the deck is stacked against them. The rules and insedentals of this sport heavily favor the offense retaining possession. One of my coaches is fond of saying "If your guy touches the disc, you fucked up" and I disagree with this. I know why he says this to his college age players: it works to fire people up. But its just not true - the offense will move the disc. Additionally, it must be accepted that it is impossible for a single defender to shut down every single option his assigned O player potentially has: defenders MUST work as a team. Seems obvious - but the recognition of this fact leads to the following conceptual shift:
Instead of thinking that one should be focused on how he can intercept the next potential pass, we must think about removing many of the offense's options before they take advantage of them. Every D is a team D.
Philosophical and wordy, yes, but hopefully enlightened.

So D is not primarily in the business of getting Ds, but of removing options. How do do D's remove options?
More of the answer to come in later posts.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Final Team List for Pres Day Qualifier and Pres Day Classic

February is going to be awesome in San Diego!

Pres Day Qualifier February 5th, 6th Santa Clara
UC Irvine
Cal State Long Beach
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Cal Poly Pomona
Arizona State
University of Arizona
UC San Diego B
UC Berkeley B
UC Los Angeles B
UC Santa Barbara B
San Diego State B

Pres Day Classic February 19th,20th,21st
Texas State
UC Santa Barbara
UC San Diego
San Deigo State
University of British Columbia
Texas A+M
Carton GOP
Cal State Chico
Colorado College
Qualifier Winner Team