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It’s the Time Cap, Stupid

Posted by on 10:30 pm in Commentary, Featured, Strategy | 0 comments

It’s the Time Cap, Stupid

  One mistake I see some coaches and captains make managing their teams is not doing a good enough job planning in advance of time caps (particularly hard caps). There are a number of issues that need to be managed with regards to caps (especially in ‘must win’ games). A couple of the perhaps more obvious examples are: Using timeouts to delay for the cap if your team is ahead Minimizing time between points if your team is behind and the cap is looming I wanted to discuss two situations in particular I have found many teams mishandling when running into caps in must win games. First Situation Your team is behind a few points and closing in on hard cap (which happens very fast after soft cap, faster than most seem to realize) and you need a quick strike goal. Often the situation is that hard cap is a few minutes away and your team is pulling, down two points. If the hard cap goes off and then you convert the break, you still lose (using USAU cap rules). You must score before the hard cap. Doing so allows you to pull being down only one point. If you convert that break, the game is tied and a final point is played to break the tie. Management Tactic It is possible to come up with a plan for a ‘quick strike goal’ on the fly if you need to, but you have to minimally be aware that you’ll need it. Preferably you have a huck play (or several) that could give your d-line a good shot at a quick goal. However, what you really need to have in place is an audible to tell to your field captain that you need to score, and score fast! From what I’ve witnessed, many teams are lacking this capacity. If you are playing in conditions where points are taking a long time to complete (lower competition levels, high wind / high turnover games, etc.), your d-line will need to know this audible well in advance….maybe even before soft cap. Yelling ‘we need to huck it now!’ to the player picking up the disc after a turn is obviously not optimal. The defense may already be aware that this is the situation, but no need to tip them off if they aren’t. One way to communicate succinctly is appending a number after the audible to signify the time left before cap or the number of passes your d-line has before you need them to score (“Winter 60”, or “Winter 6”, or similar). Also, be aware that you may need more than a basic huck play. As this situation becomes more commonplace with the equalization of talent in our sport, your opponents will likely implement a ‘prevent’ defense in this situation to deny deep throws and let the clock run out. Second Situation Many teams have DGP and other ‘must score / must break’ lines that they use when caps kick in or late in games. The mistake I see often made is not thinking about the time left in the game until the second half. This doesn’t often bite teams in the foot, but there are times when games drag more slowly than team captains/coaches realize (especially when they are ‘in’ the game emotionally). When this occurs, caps can sneak up on teams and they may start playing their tighter personnel packages too late. One example of...

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Ultimate Goal Line Stands

Posted by on 10:21 pm in Commentary, Strategy | 0 comments

Ultimate Goal Line Stands

  As usual, the term ‘Monday morning quarterback’ is apropos this week after the Seahawks’ decision to throw the ball on the goal line at the end of Super Bowl 49. Understandably so I guess, though most people only second guess calls that don’t pan out. I found this article (“Game Theory Says Pete Carroll’s Call At Goal Line Is Defensible”) in the New York Times today to be more interesting than some of the repetitive droning about how dumb a call it was. However, the article leaves out an important caveat to the situation at hand. With each possible choice for Pete Carroll on the goal line, what was the worst thing that could happen?   If you look at human decision making, you’ll find many examples where failure to take into account the ‘worst case scenario’ resulted in relative misfortune (this played a role in New Coke and the Challenger Disaster to name a few). Even if throwing was a defensible choice from a standpoint of generating a touchdown, it had some high risk drawbacks associated with it (obviously, this also depends on the type of pass being considered). As an ultimate coach, captain, or player; you must guard against focusing solely on maximizing a positive outcome. You must also anticipate worst case scenarios. Due to the nature of our sport, there is one obvious example that jumps to mind when trying to show the importance of worst case scenarios. It is strategy that coaches and captains are very used to thinking about. Let’s simplify things and say our team has two offensive strategies for a given game. One is to huck it and have lower rates of completion, but we take fewer passes each time we have the disc. The other strategy is to execute only shorter, high percentage passes, but we will end up needing to complete a lot of passes to score. As any intro stats class will tell us, the chance of scoring by completing many high percentage passes in a row is not necessarily a high percentage (it depends on the number of passes and the chance of completing each of them). If it were to take us 7 passes to score and those passes had a 90 percent chance of completion each, our chance of scoring would actually be less then 50 percent. We may well do the math for the two strategies above and choose the strategy with the highest chance of converting a possession into a goal. However, this leaves out a crucial part of ultimate, and one that relates to analyzing worst case scenarios. If our offense turns the disc over (in our simplified game, this is the worst case for the offense), what are the outcomes? This question becomes extremely important if our opponent is unable to score regularly when they have to go the full length of the field, but scores with a high percentage when they are closer. Now we have two worst case scenarios to think through: We choose the hucking offensive strategy and we turn it over! But they can’t move the disc the full field, and we get to try our hucking strategy again after they turn it. This ‘worst case scenario’ isn’t that bad at all, obviously. We try to complete lots of small passes, and often we turn the disc over before we get near their goal line. This drastically improves our hypothetical opponent’s scoring chances. Having done this analysis, we may be better off choosing a strategy that doesn’t maximize the chance for us scoring per disc...

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MPFPT Puts Out Module Zero for FPT

Posted by on 1:12 pm in Products | 0 comments

MPFPT Puts Out Module Zero for FPT

  I wrote a review earlier of Morrill Performance FPT here. Tim has since added a free video (and an updated webpage/site) that has some great content. The video (module zero) lays out a lot of great information about training for ultimate as well as answering some questions about MPFPT. I highly recommend you check it out www.mpfpt.com For those of you considering purchasing FPT, I’m told you can still use the code pulleddisc10 to get 10% off (packages only). Let me know if you have any questions or run into any issues with that...

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Check Your Angles

Posted by on 12:13 pm in Commentary, Skills and drills | 0 comments

Check Your Angles

  As I’ve mentioned in some of my work, I find a lot of players struggle with release angles when they work on advanced throwing techniques (hucking, upwind hucking, scoobers, etc.). Players also fail to appreciate the release angle (even if slight) many players use to execute flat 40 yard throws (hint, it isn’t flat). To talk about this further, I wanted to add a few thoughts to Elliot Trotter’s “Scoober of Justice” video (trademarked throwing name,  you gotta appreciate style…).     Props to Elliot for taking the time to put this out there, and I agree with much of what he says. I’m pretty sure Eliott is aware of the following points. Let’s set aside the ‘helix scoober of justice’ he talks about at the end of the video. Here are two photos of Elliot demonstrating the need to hold the disc with more vertical tilt (these were the most vertical examples in the video, I believe).     I think many viewers would think that the angle in the photos above (about 35 and 45 degrees) would be more than enough for the throw he executes. So what happens in his ‘live’ release?     Significantly more vertical tilt. Probably about 65 degrees. Now, I’m not trying to nitpick Elliot here, he does a very good job indicating the importance of vertical tilt when throwing scoobers for distance.  I just wanted to use this as an example of how easy it is for players who are learning new skills to assume something is correct based on how they view the throw or how they view a coach’s presentation (and yes, I realize this includes their interpretation of my work as well). We have players seeing hucks fly flat who then try to throw hucks with a level release, therefore not accounting for the phsyics of disc flight (or the physics of their own movement). As I discuss here and here, even when players understand they need to tilt the disc at a certain angle, they often lose that angle when they try to execute the throwing motion. Hopefully I have laid out some tips in those links to help coaches, captains, and players troubleshoot this issue. So check out Eliott’s video (it’s good stuff) and check your own release angles. What other interesting release ‘hacks’ can you learn from freeze framing top throwers? For a starting point, here are a couple freeze-frame, huck releases that I used to help a player who was working on throwing for distance.         And here is a backhand huck from Nick Lance in 2012 showing significant invert on his release, with the disc barely having any invert at the end of its flight (and low wind conditions based on the trees)....

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Space and Angles in Stubbs’ Lean Lefty

Posted by on 11:50 pm in Featured, Theory and Statistics | 0 comments

Space and Angles in Stubbs’ Lean Lefty

  So, someone posted the gif below on /r/ultimate the other day and I saw a few things right away that I thought were worth pointing out about angles and spaces. This is a bit of a preview to a serious of posts I’m going to have on ‘throwing to space’ and how to understand / visualize the concepts therein.     Here is how the clip plays out from an overhead perspective, with the players in position shortly before Stubbs’ throw is released. There are two flight paths outlined for the disc. One (light yellow and shorter) is the one in the clip, the other would be the flight path if Stubbs were to throw a low release righty flick (with the current hip/body position and angles he has in the clip).   One concept that needs to be understood, is how the flight path of the hypothetical righty flick would take more time to reach its target (at least given the constraints we have in the given moment frozen in time). In addition, it is probable that the throwing motion for the righty flick would take longer, also delaying the disc’s arrival to the targeted space.   As you can see (and verify in the gif), the defenders don’t even get to the disc flight path when the disc is caught. There was plenty of space for Stubbs’ chosen throw given the release point and time of release.   You can see here that the cutter’s defender (less the marker, who is relatively stationary and not in motion) can make up more space in the hypthetical flick example. The receiver would almost have to reach back or wait for the disc, and the cutter’s defender almost certainly gets a ‘d’ (I slightly adjusted the path angle the defender would take to try and get a ‘d’ in this example (oval shape)). You can also see that Stubbs could try to lead the receiver more with this hypothetical flick to get the disc past the defender in question, but then he’d be throwing dangerously close to the marker, also likely resulting in a ‘d’   Up to this point in the discussion it seems like a cut and dry case that Stubbs’ throwing choice was optimal, and that may well be. However, if we loosen the ‘time’ and ‘hip’ restriction we have put in place until now, we free up a working possibility for the rightly flick. If Stubbs wanted to, he could align his hips more directly to the space he is targeting (as I discuss here), and he could then step out and throw his righty flick (see the adjustment in Figure 5 of the ‘blue bar’ representing his hip alignment). This would bring the release point for his righty flick very close to the release point of the ‘lean lefty’ backhand he uses. If you look at the clip, you can see Stubbs’ choosing the lefty backhand at one point (you can go to the gfycat and analyze in slow mo and you’ll see this from about frame 72-78). Had he chosen to throw a righty flick at or shortly before that time, he could have gotten it through with a comparable level of risk to the lefty he ultimately chooses (At least, that is what I’d argue given the clip we have, it may have required him releasing the disc a...

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Get Your THROWS On

Posted by on 11:19 pm in Featured, Skills and drills | 0 comments

Get Your THROWS On

  I get asked about throwing routines sometimes. I thought I’d share a basic mnemonic cue I have used at times during my career. I found it particularly useful when I was throwing in a less structured basis or when I’m trying to get a simple throwing session in before a game or tournament. Beyond that, this seemed a good time for me to type up some notes regarding my opinions on the highly recommended Wiggins’ Zen Throwing Routine and Caldwell/ Burruss’ Kung Fu Throwing. Both are excellent, and worth linking to if for no other reason then the fact someone may stumble here and not have seen those two routines before. But first, that mnemonic…. THROWS   This is just a little cue you can memorize and use as a trigger whenever you want to go throw. Most people will have (or will develop) a pretty good feel of how much of their throwing time they want to spend in each of the following ‘areas’. The main goal is to not neglect any of these areas over multiple throwing sessions/weeks.  In particular, I find many players neglect one or more of these phases before game time or tournament time, whereas I find all of these areas (at least to a minimal extent) good to fit in whenever possible before competition.   Touch – As discussed in a few of my videos and demonstrated to some extent here, the ability to get a disc to sit softly is very useful in throwing to space (particularly when breaking mark or hucking out in front of a receiver). Working on ‘touch’ doesn’t require slow disc speed (though that is often used and may help), but spin is definitely a key component. Huck – Self explanatory, work on your hucks (whatever that distance is for you, flat 30-40 yard throws may be your current capacity/goal). Release Points – High and low and in between, definite emphasis on low release points and stability Overhead – scoobers, hammers, blades, etc. Wild – Relax a bit, try some ‘new’ throws, play with disc flight angles and fake motions. Wiggins calls this ‘R&D throws’ in his Zen routine (great name for it) Short – Short distance throws ( <5 meters…sometimes just 1 meter), how close can you get and still throw a soft low release to someone’s chest? how quickly can you release a short backhand to a nearby target? What about lefty? What about releasing it as soon as possible after you catch it? etc.   Work your fakes, smooth movements, quick movements, and visualizing game situations as you work in the areas above. You can even take your favorite pieces from the Zen and Kung Fu throwing routines and meld them into this framework. You can also (obviously) tackle a few of the mnemonic areas at the same time (ala Aidan and I here….Release points, Touch, Short)   A few comments on Wiggins’ Zen Throwing Routine:   As you’ll find if you become more familiar with the general themes that appear in my work on skill development, I’m a huge fan of visualizing game situations when one practices throwing. I can’t agree enough with the general thrust in which Wiggins drives home this point in the ‘Theory’ section of his article: “I’ll just end by saying that no routine or doctrine can ever take the place of the most fundamental throwing skill. That skill is in making every...

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Tim Morrill Grinds out FPT

Posted by on 8:30 pm in Products | 0 comments

Tim Morrill Grinds out FPT

   Tim Morrill was kind enough to send over some extended clips of his new product (Morrill Performance Function Performance Training) for my review. As I hinted at in this post on energy system training, I’m sort of an amateur fitness ‘geek’. I know or have read enough to be familiar with modern paradigms on athletic training, and as is clear to anyone who is in such a spot, Tim is on top of the current best practices and emerging techniques. Tim has made a variety of contributions to the ultimate fitness community: from his lobbying for more unilateral training, to the clinics he has run around the world, to other recent content he has launched (F.U.T.U.R.E.). With FPT, I’m happy to say that he has bundled together a comprehensive training system that most every ultimate player and/or team can embrace (those who don’t need to probably already learned the content from Tim in the first place). I haven’t seen all four plus hours of content, but the samples I saw were representative 15 minute selections from each of the eight modules in the full package (FPT comes in multiple packages for different training goals, all at different price points).  I’ll give some brief thoughts on some of the modules’ content below, but there is no need to ‘bury the lead’ – If you are looking to improve you or your team’s on-field performance while hedging against injuries, Tim has the most complete package out there for the modern ultimate player. Combine this with the amount of content (approximately 4.5 hours of video instruction for the full package) and it is quite an offering, particularly for those players who can’t attend a clinic of Tim’s in person. Any product of this nature needs to distill content from the massive volumes of good (and less than good) training information available. No product can lay out the perfect routine for your given situation. That being said, FPT does a very good job of dispensing fitness education while keeping the content from becoming unnecessarily dense. Tim is able to provide important nuance, while targeting the most effective movements and exercises. His comfort with the material is evident in the quality of his presentation, obviously honed over hours of training others and presenting at clinics. The videos also contain useful coaching cues each step of the way, along with well filmed, multiple angle demos that provide an excellent reference point for your own training. Beyond telling you ‘what to do’, Tim’s desire to raise the level of training knowledge in our community is evident as he lays out the ‘why’ of his training philosophies along the way. One issue end users are likely to experience is that (in a few spots) there is some background noise in the audio. If you are concerned about this, you can check out this clip here that gives an example of one instance where this crops up. The product is filmed in multiple locations, so background noise is not common to the videos as a whole. I didn’t have any issues hearing the content myself and the vast majority of the content I viewed had pristine audio, but it does seem worth mentioning. The other likely issue some users may have, is a desire for a specific routine or formula they should follow in the gym or on the track. While the modules do lay out some pathways, Tim (wisely) stays away from dictating precise routines. Tim seems to aim to teach...

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Skill WOW 18: What is a Good Fake?

Posted by on 3:05 pm in Featured, Skill WOW | 2 comments

Skill WOW 18: What is a Good Fake?

  This is largely a follow up on discussions and questions that arose from this this video on practicing good fakes. There are a lot of things one can do to improve ones ‘faking’ ability, but the major point of this video is try and help you to move (and ‘stand’) like a dangerous thrower. This is a skill in and of itself. Not only will this help to keep defenders honest, but it also will help you have a wider range of throwing options available. I’m adding the referenced videos here momentarily…fyi..  ...

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Skill WOW 17: 50 Yard Scoobers

Posted by on 3:06 pm in Featured, Skill WOW | 2 comments

Skill WOW 17: 50 Yard Scoobers

  As promised earlier…developing scoobers for distance. Notes: – If you are sensitive to lighting changes and jerky movements, this video may not be for you… 🙁 – Thanks for Odie for being a guinea pig for this video, his first time working through scoobers from this paradigm and he did great (despite almost crushing the cameraman with a disc). Thanks to said cameraman as well, for almost giving the flatball sacrifice…you know who you are. – Hit me up for questions or clarifications, you really have to have an early and very vertical release point / motion to be able to throw those blades in the...

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Let’s Talk Energy System Training

Posted by on 10:37 am in Media | 0 comments

Let’s Talk Energy System Training

  Recently, on /r/ultimate there were a few posts containing some recommended workouts and lifting suggestions (which is good since questions seem to get asked regularly about such issues). I’ve been meaning to suggest some readings on energy system training for a while now, and given these recent posts – this month seems apt. I don’t know the entire context of how training has shifted in various sports (and at various levels) during my ultimate career, but there do seem to have been some changes and trends (there certainly were in ultimate). I remember when I first started playing, 3 mile jogs and ‘cardio’ seemed pretty common from what little info we had about flatball training norms. Fortunately for our team, we were running a good mix of Fartlek intervals, hills, and other varied workouts by the end of my college career. Much of my club career came during the rise in ‘dynamic stretching warmups’ and the hatred of static stretching. Similarly, a continued disgust with distance training was often evident (which yours truly, master of crappy jogging form, was fine with). Meanwhile, I became amateurly obsessed with learning about training: trading emails with ‘The Viking’ about new ways to torture ourselves, reading articles on T-nation, and delving into the classics (yes, I made myself read the tome that is Supertraining).  Luckily, the field of fitness seems to always be advancing (and we are seeing great work being done by our ‘own’ fitness professionals – Tim, Melissa, and Ren to name a few). Conversation amongst ultimate players is moving away from ‘ultimate is all sprints, so that is all you need to do at the track’ to broader discussions of training methods. This is a great sign, particularly when we check our assumptions of how our sport (and others) breakdown:   A 2009 study found that, “More than 70% of the total [soccer] match duration was performed at low “aerobic” intensities, while only 1-3% of the match was performed at high-intensities (“sprinting”) (3). The overall work-to-rest ratio of these soccer players averaged out to a 2-4 second sprint every 90 seconds.”   The Return of Aerobic Work – Anthony Mychal   Aside from the amount of knowledge and content being pushed out by KStarr at Mobility WOD, some of the best (and perhaps most relevant) work I have been reading of late has been about optimizing different energy systems of the body through different training protocols. With no further ado, I have some reading homework for all of you. Note: Don’t let the ‘macho’, figure model promoting, product hyping ‘t-nation.com’ bias your experience, this is writing from some modern gurus – Cressey, etc.   Cardio Confusion – Eric Cressey   An important takeaway from this info is that the word “cardio” doesn’t tell us much. We’re training, not just working out, so it’s important to determine ahead of time which energy systems we want to challenge with a particular exercise intervention. Fellow T-Nation contributor Christian Thibaudeau wisely conjured up the term “energy systems training” to encompass all of these activities. Within this classification, one can specify which energy system is being trained by a given activity.   Eric runs through a good presentation of the ways in which energy systems work in our body, some discussion of research implications, a defense of why aerobic conditioning can...

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