Monday, October 16, 2006

Crap Formats #2

Very busy times these days.

I am working pretty hard on Nationals logistics. Seeding, observer rules, schedule, etc. It looks like I might be Head that will be fun.

Bumpersticker I saw the other day:

"George W: Pull out like your father should have."


Worked on the 2-handler set with the girls the other day. In my attempt to indoctrinate them in this set, I decided I wouldn't even teach the 3-handler set this year. My vets don't seem comfortable in the 2 set, though, so they fell back on the 3 set this past weekend at a Smith College tournament.

Speaking of tournaments, my girls have this format to look forward to this upcoming weekend:

I can't make any sense out of the seedings as I don't think that MIT and BU should be seeded behind us. Also, 16 teams in 3 pools??? I guess this is being driven by the 6 field issue, but 16 teams in 4 pools can be done on 6 fields in 4 rounds. The byes aren't any worse than the published plan.

Then there is the brackets. First, both A and C pools have their 1 and 2 seeds on the same side of the bracket. That's a big no-no. In terms of match-ups, A1(1) vs C3(8...9??) makes sense. B1(2) vs A2 (6). No problem, kind of. C1(3) v B3(8). Low seed plays a high seed. That's good. B2(5) v C2(4). Right on. What happened to 7??

I think 4 pools of 16 in 4 rounds followed by 2v3 pre-quarters makes a lot more sense.

Ok...that's the bitch for the week.......


parinella said...

The bumper stickers remind me of the equally clever "Impeach Clinton and her husband."

It's Monday, the organizers can still change things. They probably just don't know what they're doing. Email them, explain who you are, tell them you know me if that doesn't help, and point out the format per the UPA tournament handbook.

Another weird thing is that each team will not play one team in their pool, leading to a good chance that two teams will be tied in their pool without playing each other. What is even weirder is that 1 does not play 2.

Finally, if they do stick with it, they accidentally scheduled C3 for 4 games and C2 for 2 games, so you should figure out which game is the one to be switched.

Tarr said...

You're right, of course, that the current format is screwey. The seeding of the bracket makes no sense, as it puts 1's and 2's on the same side of the bracket. You seem to have overlooked the most glaring issue in this format: the pools doen't even play out pool play completely, as this takes five rounds (both for pools of five and for pools of six). The only teams that actually complete pool play are Williams-B and MIT.

The problem with running the standard 16 team format, though, is that there are only 7 fields and 4 rounds (I'll assume these numners can't be changed). While this appears to give you the necessary 28 field rounds for 4 pools of 4 (6 field rounds each) plus 4 crossovers, there's actually no way to fit it in. At least two pools won't be done until after the fourth round, which means that you have one field un-used in round 4, and two crossovers left to play in round 5.

That said, even assuming you have the field/round constraints as listed, there's a few options here that make more sense that what they have (OK, well, just about anything makes more sense, but here's some good ideas):

1) Run the same round times that the men are using (i.e. five rounds in the day), finish pool play, and set up the brackets right:



This is a bad format, but at least it's a bad format run properly.

2) Run the standard 16 team format, but put the 2v3 crossovers on Sunday. This is the best option if you want to stick with only 4 rounds on the day.

3) Run the 16 team format I suggest when pools are supposed to be balanced, using the same round times as the men, which allows you to fit everything in just fine, and give everyone four games on Saturday.

A and C pools have crossovers in round 4, B and D pools have crossovers in round 5. 3 fields are not used in round 5; every field is used for the first four rounds.

This is the best format IMO.

gcooke said...


I think neither bumper sticker does justice to your team name idea: "The Tournament Director is an Asshole".

I remember noticing that not everyone plays each other in pools, but I forgot to mention that.

I am going to have to talk to my captains.....


gcooke said...


Awesome. I am going to write my captains and tell them that you have been stirring up trouble.


Corey said...

I don't know how I missed it all these years. I thought Jim was just a jerk, but it's much worse.

He's a Repuglican!

It fits my years of watching DoG cheat to win games and yet somehow still hold onto the moral Spirit highground. Like the Repugs that claim to make us safer and care about helping people, when there are more terrorists every day and they could give two sh!ts about helping anyone that doesn't own shares of Halliburton.

Do you goof on people with Spirit like the Bush Whitehouse bags on the Chritians that put them in power?

parinella said...

George, another good team name would be "The UPA Sucks".

Corey, careful or I'm going to tell everyone here how much you hate the Mixed game.

gcooke said...


I don't know......doesn't seem to have the nuance of your other name.

As far as Corey goes, I think his feelings are well documented, so "everyone here" is happy that he would even deign to make his presence known in such a subversive forum.


Julian said...

Hi George,

I just finished up my first season coaching a women's club team, and I worked pretty hard to impliment the 2-handler zone--with some trouble.

Having never played the 3-handler set myself, I hadn't thought through all the details I would have to teach to make the transition. One of the key changes, at least for the players I was working with, was the role of the wings. When we started running 2 handlers, we couldn't move the disc, largely because the wings were getting too far downfield and the handlers couldn't use them. Because we didn't have anyone with a solid hammer or the will to use it, we just gave up ground until we either got lucky or turned it over.

Once I figured out what was going on I basically told the wings not to go downfield more than 10 yards. This kept them close enough to be viable threats and it helped us use the width of the field better.

I don't know what is driving the discomfort with the Whiptails, but it may help to re-emphasize the changed role of the wings. The ladies up here were used to playing wing like a wide popper, but I needed them to play like a wide handler.

Of course, it's well-documented that I'm a moron, so keep the salt handy.


gcooke said...


Thanks for the comments. My captains did a quick zone chalk talk with the girls on the evening before I taught zone out on the field. I asked them to specifically to not describe what the wings do as a "piston-type motion up and down the sideline".

I have been working on the 2-handler set now since I started (fall of 02) and it is hard to get it to stick. We absolutely do what you say to do with the wings. They stay very far back, almost like handlers.

I think what is hard for them is to feel as comfortable swinging the disc as with the 3 set. I am going to look into it today, though. I think a big part of embracing the 2 set is setting the expectation that you are going to go right up the middle of the field and not try to swing it around until the cup gets tired.

In trying trying to sway the vets over to my point of view, I told them the other day that if we had been confident in the 2 handler set, we might not have spotted MIT that two point lead in the game to go to the game to go as it took us a few points to get used to their cup zone/man downfield look. With the extra person downfield, I think that look would have been a gift.


old_mossy said...

I captain a lot of hat league teams and am always trying to encourage people to play 2 handler zone O instead of 3. One thing I find that helps the wings is to tell them that they are half wings and half handlers - if the 2 main handlers get stuck over on one side of the field or the other, it is the off-side wing's responsibility to move more towards the center of the field for a possible dump/swing. This seems to keep the wings closer to the disc and reassures the handlers that they have help if they get in a tight spot.

aj said...

about college women and the 2 handler set...

push those wings farther downfield! When I was at Emory, I ran into 2 main problems with the 2 handler set.

(1) Fear of throwing over the top to the wings. Basically, I combated that by including 20 yard hammers and blades as part of our normal throwing routine at every practice. I think it had the additional benefit of improving our catching as well. I found that if we threw even once pass over the top the defensive wings backed way up and covered our O wings, leaving our poppers to shred.

(2) The other thing I ran into was fear of throwing up field among non-handlers. Basically, I just had to keep on encouraging the non-handlers to move the disc up field and exploit there 2 on 1 advantages - after all that's why we're running teh 2 handler set.

I've moved and made the switch to coaching men - I'm interested to see what I run into when I put in the 2 handler set here.

PV06 said...


PV's never been a seeded tournament - we made the pools trying to get teams to meet new opponents. We tried to put a roughly equal distribution of strength in each pool so that on Sunday the bracket is corret but it's hard to tell with PV since many teams play a lot of rookies, and many teams are very hungover on Sunday morning.

I agree that the format is kinda screwy.

The reason why there are three pools instead of four is that we wanted to give teams four games on Saturday. One of the field sites (with two fields) is far away from everything else (so a crossover would be a hassle). I would rather play more games that have a standard format, particurally for a fall tournament. Once we made a five-team pool, we didn't know what the best way to format games for 11 teams on five fields. Any suggestions you have would be welcome.

Also, there was confusion between me and the women's TD about how to set up the pools on the upa's site - it should be fixed now. What you (correctly) bitched about was never intended to be to the format. If any of you have any other comments please email me at 08msr at williams dot edu - obviously you all know more about formatting than I do.

Thanks for commenting - we obviously don't want to run a crap tournament.


Julian said...

Hey AJ,

Interesting to see that you found the same exact problems I have. Also interesting to see that your solution is different.

(1) Fear of throwing over the top to the wings.
Exactly! (And I'm definitely putting hammer/blade practice on the schedule--great idea)

I found that if we threw even once pass over the top the defensive wings backed way up and covered our O wings, leaving our poppers to shred.
I think that you can accomplish a similar thing by keeping the wings wide instead of downfield. The point is that you have to be able to open up the midddle of the field, how you do it isn't as important.

(2) The other thing I ran into was fear of throwing up field among non-handlers.
Right on again! I think this is a multi-faceted problem. Encouraging give-and-go movement behind the cup is crucial, but it takes time to get everyone convinced.

I've moved and made the switch to coaching men - I'm interested to see what I run into when I put in the 2 handler set here.
Does anyone who plays competitively still run the 3-handler set? Seems like the community at large has made the transition...

Oh, and good luck w/ the boys. They're different than girls.


gcooke said...

aj, om, j,

Interesting perspectives. I focus on having the wings play in a position that makes them choose between guarding them or helping guard the poppers. This positioning can (and should) be dynamic. Either choice by the defender will result in someone being open.


gcooke said...


I really appreciate the clarifications and that you would bother to check in with this old grumpy guy.

While it is obviously somewhat pathetic, I have nothing better to do than check out the SRT all the time. PV's reputation is that of a very fun tournament at a beautiful location. My comments were meant specifically about the format and not meant to offer an opinion about PV as a whole. I know that for a few years my girls could not get into PV, due to the high demand, so I know that they are very much looking forward to returning for the second tear in a row year and that they are proud that their results over the past few years makes them worthy of being considered as additive.

I think if we back up a step and take a look, we see that PV is trying to balance a broad range of priorities. Is it a party, an Ultimate tournament, or both? I have never been to PV, but its reputation as a party event is solid and reflected in your comments about the potential condition of the teams on Sunday morning. I think I have mentioned that I have attended about 2 Ultimate parties in my career. I also insist that I do not want to know what my girls do off the field.......they just need to show up on time and in shape to play in the morning. Needless to say, I think the two previous sentences indicate where my interests lie.

I do think that the SRT offers an opportunity to provide continuity between teams, seasons, and results. It is also a public document. I think that if tournaments want to place their priorities more on the "party" side of the spectrum then they might want to consider not including their tournament on the SRT. Teams would know, therefore, that they should go for the party and not necessarily be concerned about things like the quality of the teams, a fair format, or that they might be playing hungover teams on Sunday. This might be a way to make a distinction between tournaments that are additive in terms of the sense of season vs tournaments that were less serious. That way, come the spring, the data would be a bit more clear and there would be less of "we beat Team A at Purple Valley", but then Team A writes "yes, but we had 7 people and they all were drunk".


PV06 said...

We hope that PV can both be one of the best (if not the best) tournaments in the Northeast in terms of quality of play and quality of partying, and the field this year looks like it will fufill those dreams.

I can't remember the last time a college team won PV and then didn't make nationals in the spring. Futhermore, at least in the open division during my time at Williams, the team that won the spirit score at nationals was at PV.

Posting the brackets beforehand has allowed us to recieve valuable proofreading from teams. For instance, for the guys bracket I (by mistake) put two pools on field 5. I may not have noticed the error, but a team did and now the format is correct.
I hate it when large tournaments don't report their scores. Both as a player and as a fan I'm interested to learn how other teams do.

Williams has hosted a small tryout tournament for the past few winters for which scores will never be reported since the games don't really resemble A-team contests. PV is big enough so that even if teams don't really resemble what they will look like in the spring (both in terms of personell and drunkness) one can glean something from the results.

We got more and better fields, so we're now using one the the official UPA formats. I feel bad for making Adam Tarr think of several insane methods of making brackets better than the one I came up with.

I hope to see you in Williamstown. Even if you don't like to party, the countryside is beautiful at this time of year. Old people love the colors.


gcooke said...


Awesome post.

PV sounds like it is in capable hands and it looks like you guys will have a great weekend.

As far as Adam goes, he loves that stuff. When I bothered him for two weeks to help me devise formats for 40-33 team formats (depending on who was going to show up), his response was "I am glad we can get all those templates into the SRT".

I see that my crankiness resulted in the Whips getting the D4 slot, so thanks. (THAT WAS A JOKE THAT I MADE!).

Have a great weekend. Format looks great. Don't forget to make sure that the TD knows all of the "winner of game x is 5 unless A1 loses game z" stuff for the brackets.


Anonymous said...


Hi, my name is Jayadev Athreya. I am going to be helping out the Wesleyan team with a clinic or two, and was hoping to correspond with you a little bit re: Coaching/clinics.

My email is jathreya AT gmail DOT com