Thursday, December 06, 2007

UCPC registration opens today!

Registration for the Ultimate Coaches & Players Conference will open at 11am on Thurs, Dec 6.

First 30 general registrants receive a free disc! First 30 Club/College/High School Vendors to register get 2 free discs!

In addition, we are announcing our presentations and panels for this year's conference.

Please go to the UCPC website to register(after 11am) and get the latest updates.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Announcing the Presenters for UCPC 08

We are pleased to announce the presenters and panelists for UCPC 08. Dr. Alan Goldberg will again offer the keynote presentation and our panelists offer a broad range of perspectives and experience. Thanks to all who submitted proposals.

The website:

Information about registration and hotels, etc will be published shortly.

Tiina Booth
George Cooke


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Evaluating the Seedings

First, I want to say congrats to the DoG crew, especially Marshall. I remember him saying after Nats in 04 that that was probably his best chance for a championship. Well, that isn't the case and I am glad that the team will have the chance to represent the country in Vancouver.

Second, this post isn't really about the seedings. It is about the simple fact that if teams play lots of games, especially inter-regional games...the data is better, the seedings are better, and the quality of Nats is better as the initial pools are better balanced.

So, again, thanks to the Mixed teams that put in the effort to travel during the season and organize events like Boston, ECC, and Labor Day. I think this season pretty clearly speaks that it is positive when teams play under one moniker and take the good with the bad. One of the primary reasons for the initiative to increase inter-regional games was to improve data for seeding Nats, so how did we do?

In subjecting the seedings to a predictive point of view, this was by far the most successful year since I became NXD in 03. 3 of 4 semifinalists were correct. 7 of 8 quarterfinalists were correct. 9 of the top 10. 3 of the bottom 5 were also correct.

Biggest changes:
Poodle Club +5(possible answer: pick-up team...everyone doesn't show up until Nats)
Bashing Pinatas +5
Barrio +4 (no data to seed)
ICE -3
Mischief -3
Bad Larry -5

This is much better when compares to years like 05, where we had the 12th seed in the finals, 11th seed in Semis, etc.

The seedings were, generally, as good as RRI in terms of predicting outcomes. The RRI, if I recall (I didn't save a copy of the matrix before the event), had Rival too high, Amp too low, etc, but was pretty good.

So, get out there, play the games, travel to tournaments, keep your name, and take the good with the bad. Your team will be better off and the sport will benefit from your efforts.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Qtrs Predictions?

Very busy getting ready for this show I am doing. I am pretty bummed I will not be making the trip down south this week........

So, let's discuss brackets.

Please feel free to post your predictions for qtrs/semis/finals of any/all divs.


Monday, October 15, 2007

More Deep Thoughts

-I received a call from one of my captains yesterday as I was headed back from NYC. I guess my girls won Purple Valley. I think this might be the first time the Whips have won a tournament. My understanding is that they lost to Williams on Sat, but beat Tufts in the final.

-With the light diminishing quickly in the afternoons, we are starting to have some practices in which we don't scrimmage. I do like that as it provides a reminder that actually playing is something not to be taken for granted.

-Finished seeding Nats. It was pretty consuming as there are some points with a glaring lack of data. The captains were great to work with and, thanks to Boston Invite, Labor Day, CHC, and ECC, we did have much better data than in previous years.

-Heady times for Boston sports...really a wicked pissah time to get provincial.

-We are getting great proposals in for the UCPC 08. Reminder that proposals are due by Nov 9.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Deep Thoughts

-Interesting to drive directly from working the BC-Bowling Green game to Regionals. Obviously very different atmospheres. The BC game atmosphere was a bit mundane as the game was a blow out. Regionals, with everyone fighting to keep their seasons alive, was very exciting.

-One of my girls qualified for Mixed Nats with Bashing Pinatas. I think she might be the first Whiptail to do so while still a student.

-The end of the Open final has been written about in detail. Not much to say there other than it is rare to see someone very clearly take the game over and exert their will to that extent.

-It was nice to see the celebrations when teams earn their spot to Sarasota. For the established teams, earning a spot might be an afterthought, but I found it one of the most rewarding feelings.

-Brute really took it to Godiva in the Women's final. Pretty solid on both sides of the disc. They had 1 point scored on them on Sat...

-The Mixed Div does all that work to develop inter-Regional results and then we get three or 4 teams with little or no results plus no Moe, Deliverance, Puppet, Pleasuretown. I am especially curious about how Central Regionals played out as Moe was having a great season up until that point.

-Working on Zone D with the girls this week.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Announcing UCPC 08/Request for Presentation Proposals

All of the permits and budget stuff is settled, so Tiina and I are excited to announce that UCPC 08 will be held on January 26, 2008 at Newton South High School.

The updated website is;

This year's theme is "Preparation and Performance for the Sport of Ultimate". We are accepting proposals for presentations until November 9, 2007. Please go to the "Presenters" page to submit a proposal.

We will be releasing information about registration, logistics, and who is presenting over the next few week, so stay tuned.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Questions & Anecdotes

1) Will this be the first year that neither of Boston's #1 Open and Women's teams will be a #1 seed at NE Regionals?

2) In the club division, will this be the first time that teams from Canada will be both the #1 seeds in Open and Women's at Regionals? Maybe FG and Prime one year??

3) Wanting it both ways #1:

Complaining that the sport isn't on TV/legit/respected


Whining about the numbers on shorts

Even leaving the pro sports out of it, ever read the NCAA uniform guidelines? Want to be legit? Get ready for someone to tell what color and brand your underwear has to be.

4) Another Hard Time Cap controversy out in the NW. This reminds me a bit of the situation with UBC and Berkeley a few years back.

There is a lot of work to be done in this area. First thing, the concept of an "end of round" time point in the schedule is not only meaningless, but it is dead and gone. Here is what we have:

The Start of the round: This is the first time listed on the SRT.
The Soft Time Cap: The second time listed on the SRT.

To be clear, the UPA suggests and has written into its SRT templates that 30 minutes is needed for the completion of the game after the Soft Time Cap. The 30 minutes listed is NOT a break.

The only other time device available is:

Hard Time Cap

The first thing is that we need to agree that 30 minutes is enough time to complete the game after the Soft Time Cap. If so, then the Hard Time Cap should be no less than 30 minutes after the Soft Time Cap. If the Hard Time Cap is scheduled for less than 30 minutes after the Soft Time Cap, then it should be due to day light, round scheduling, or other concerns.

If a break is needed to change fields AND there is enough time in the day, I will therefore offer my opinion of a "preferred" schedule:

Start of the round: 9AM
Soft Time Cap: 10:30AM
Hard Time Cap(if needed): 11AM
Start of the Next Round: 11:15AM

Notice that there is no "end of round" marker. That is because it is dead and gone.

5) Wanting it both ways #2:

A friend of mine told me about taking a high school team to UPA Open Sectionals a week or so ago. For quite of few of the high school players, this was their first time playing at Club Sectionals. Not unexpectedly, the team played several college teams and, not unexpectedly, the college teams, some who went to Nationals last year, behaved atrociously. Inappropriate sexual cheers within earshot of parents, trash talking on the field, intimidating my friends team during time outs by surrounding them and singing loudly, etc. Of course, "Its all good", right, dude?

After one game that was particularly horrendous, the college team captain approached my friend, who is a very successful Ultimate coach, and asked if my friend would be interested in coming during the fall and speaking to the team about what it would take to improve, etc. My friend reflected for a moment on the 2 hours of abuse that just occurred, took another look at the costume wearing college team and replied "I don't think so....."


Monday, September 24, 2007

Looking at Offense with questions

The girls and I began work on revamping the offense last week. For us, any work on the O begins with the acknowledgment that any specific work is predicated upon the assumption that we can throw and catch. Without specific focus on those skills and a practice regime that emphasizes their importance and development, we would be better off playing huck and play D and working on the defense. The good thing about working on throwing and catching is that everyone, both new players and vets, need the work and benefit from it.

One of the changes for me this year is that I am reducing my personal assumption that the girls can, without the benefit of defined structures or principles, properly read a situation and react. It is all well and good to say "take what you are given", but without context, it is pretty much meaningless. For example, a new cutter is fronted, so she cuts away. However, she makes her cut starting 25 yards away from the disc in the same third as the thrower, who only has a 20 yard flick, and the team is going upwind. This is a brief example only meant to say that there are many factors to consider in any given situation and it is probably unfair to expect "correct" reads, let alone basic improvisation, from players who are beginning their involvement in the sport.

So, I have been looking at structure, principles, and creating options in a manner that is manageable for my young, but very smart players. Obviously, the idea of breaking down a potentially complex series of interactions into familiar components (for example, dump pass when trapped) is not earth shaking in its originality. I do, though, appreciate the clarity offered by Phil Jackson in his book "More than a Game" when he says:

"Tex's way of teaching the formatting of the offense (which is the most critical consideration) is to break every possibility down to its constituent parts. For example, when Pippen makes the wing-entry pass to MJ, the way in which the defense chooses to pressure Pippen and Paxson will determine which one of them moves to the corner. The timing and rhythm between Pippen and Paxson must be established before the entire five-man offense can operate smoothly. So Tex will drill this particular two-man sequence until it becomes instinctive".

This systematic approach has an appealing potential, it seems to me, for developing confidence in players as the situations they experience will be somewhat familiar. An additional benefit is less real time thinking and "creativity" ("the cross field blade forehand to the break side seems like a good thing to do now"). The next steps are rather clear: identification and drilling.

When breaking things down into components, it is, however, pretty difficult to ignore what occurs several pages later than the paragraph I quoted above in "More than a Game": The Seven Principles of a Sound Offense. Unfortunately, it is hard these days, with a modicum of awareness of RSD, to read the Seven Principles without a smirk and the thought, "Here I go into Crazy Frank land". Research calls, though, and the Seven Principles is a resource. So, I guess my disclaimer, for what it is worth, is that I have been interested in the Seven Principles potential relevance to Ultimate long before CF publicly attached himself to it, and I do recall feeling a bit bummed that I would probably associate the "Swimmy Swim" with the Seven Principles for years to come. In any case, I do think that when one reads the Seven Principles that questions arise: "Could there be something similar for Ultimate?" and/or "How applicable are the Seven Principles to Ultimate?" are just a couple that come to mind. It is important to keep in mind that the Triangle is a "system" which, in the opinion of PJ and TW, makes the best use of the Seven Principles. So what follows is a point by point look at these hallowed concepts and their possible application in Ultimate:

"A sound offense...

1. Must penetrate the defense.
A. Create good % shots. Define what is a good shot for each player
B. Stress inside power game. Play for the 3-pt power play.
C. Break down all defenses from full court presses to double teams.

Before getting into the specifics, I think this is a an interesting example, potentially, of jargon. Several pages before this listing of principles, Jackson says, "The idea is not to go head to head with the defense. In fact, the offense players will always take the path of least resistance and move to open areas". To me, "breaking down" and "penetrating" sound pretty similar to "going head to head". Now, this is certainly nit picking, but I do have basic questions: what is the difference between "breaking down" and "not going to head to head"? and why is it important? I would say my interpretation is that the former tries to identify weakness and exploit it, while the later will try to impart an approach regardless of what the defense presents, but I don't think this interpretation is overwhelmingly clear based on the somewhat vague language.

I think, for Ultimate, that this principle could be simply "Break down all defenses". A possible addition could be specifics about what breaking down actually means. B seems irrelevant and A could possibly be adapted, if one was really limiting themselves.

2. Basketball is a full court game, end to end play. Skills must be learned at a fast-break pace. Know the optimum speed and work to increase it. Transition basketball begins on D. Look to run!

Clearly, #2 is a problem for most pro basketball teams. I do think that #2 is an odd inclusion. Rather than a principle, it seems more like a process for teaching.

3. Provides proper floor spacing 15'-18', creating an operating area and clearing area on the court. It keep the defense occupied on and off the ball.

Obviously, for Ultimate, the "15'-18'" needs to be removed. I think most Ultimate schemes have considered spacing as well as open and dead spots. My opinion is that the vertical stack does struggle to occupy defenders, specifically those guarding the 2nd and 3rd players from the front of the stack in a 5 person stack.

4. Provides player and ball movement with a purpose. There is only one ball and five players. All things being equal, a player is without the ball 80% of the time.

#4 is good stuff. Speaks to discipline and creating space for others.

5. Provides strong rebound position and good defensive balance on all shots.

Pretty much useless for Ultimate. I am not a basketball player, but I am assuming that "defensive balance" means that the team has a defensive option in the case of a defensive rebound/fast break.

6. Provides the player with the ball the ability to pass to any of his teammates. (The offense should also provide a counter to whatever action the defense may take).

Very interesting idea. Most Ultimate offenses have, it seems to me, created systematic opportunities for maybe 3 players at any given moment (primary cut, dump, perhaps a break side option). I am not sure that the goal should be for every player to have potential, but maybe 4-5 could be looked at.

7. Utilizes the abilities of the individual players. Must create high % shots for a team's beast shooters, rebound opportunities for bounders, etc., affords the opportunity to play out of a flexible format rather than be restricted to a definite set play"

While the first part of #7 is useful, especially for teams at a high level, I think the last sentence is where the power is and it brings us back to the idea of small components as building blocks to understanding possible options based on what is presented.

So, I am skeptical that the Seven Principles can be used, as written, as a template for Ultimate. I do think it is interesting to contemplate similarities between these concepts and we do now, or could do in the future. I think, for the time being, that, for my girls, increasing the sense of situational familiarity on the field based upon repeated component work is a positive way to begin thinking about offense.


Monday, September 17, 2007


Due to my plea bargain agreement in which I took my wife out swing dancing this weekend, I was let out of my veal pen and allowed to stop in on both ENE Women's(Sat) and Mixed(Sun) Sectionals. Seriously, swing dancing was a lot of fun. We found a community place at a nearby town where they had lessons and a live 18-piece big band, so that was cool.

My captains this year have some very creative ideas about structure this year and Sectionals was just one example. The Whips were able to get two teams out to the event this year. One team (Whiptails) was comprised of Seniors and 2nd year players that played on the B team last year. The other (Whole Damn Bus) was alums plus 2nd year players from the A team. The benefits of this rather quirky arrangement are obvious in that PT is increased, older players are teaching younger players, etc. It seemed to me going in that Whole Damn Bus had a legit shot at Regionals, so I was wondering if the seniors on Whiptails were concerned about placing themselves in a situation in which they might not get the chance at playing at Regionals. I think, though, that my seniors are concerned more about the team as a whole, though, than their personal opportunities in early fall. I am not surprised by their selfless attitude, though. It has been a struggle every fall to teach the first year players how to play while still moving the returning players forward. So, this approach to Sectionals is about focusing our attention on our great group of sophomores and keeping them moving forward. I did receive a call from my alums asking me to come out and say Hi, so I made the trek out to the very nice soccer complex in Lancaster, MA.

Going to tournaments is a real social event these days. I get to see lots of folks I haven't seen in months or years. I ran into Julian, who has been a great commenter on this blog. We discussed the differences between coaching your peers in club vs coaching college teams. Interesting stuff.

Godiva seems pretty strong this year. With VY, Johanna, Mo, Sarah, etc, they are a good team and it showed as I checked the SRT and they lost to Brute by 1 in the final.

My girls did well. The Whips struggled a bit, but had a close win against BC. I think it was great for them to get some reps n this setting. WDB did qualify for Regionals. The alums looked pretty strong. Nell was very poised with the disc and Leslie was running hard as always. My current players made contributions: Min running hard, Caroline in the cup. It was pretty windy, but the overall level of play held up. It was great to see folks again.

On Sunday, I headed down to catch the finals of the Mixed Div. I had read on the SRT that Quiet Coyote had upset Slow White the day before. Due to this format, that meant that Slow could not win the that is kind of a big deal. Again, it is like reunion weekend down there for me. Hard to concentrate on the games while I am chatting away. I plunk myself between the Slow/Chinstrap game(loser is 4th, winner plays for 2nd/3rd) and the Tandem/QC game. Tandem gets a break to go up 1-0, and then QC rattles off 3 and is pulling. I turn my head to check out the Slow/Strap game which is just getting going and, as I am standing on the endzone line near QC, I hear, from behind me, one of the 7 QC players say "Let's go for the kill". I think to myself "Uh Oh....3-1 is a bit early to be going for the kill". QC pulls. Disc is pulled inside out from the right sideline. Never comes back in and Tandem gets the disc 10 yards from the goal they are attacking. 2 short quick passes. Goal. This begins a 14-3 run and a win for Tandem. Now, of course it is convenient to frame things in this manner and I am very certain that saying "let's go for the kill" did not cause the guy to throw the disc out of bounds and begin the Tandem run. However, I do think that language is important and this example does bring up the topic of what is "helpful" language. I talked with Tiina a bunch about this under the tent at NUTC this summer. One thing I used to say to my girls when we would get up to 12 or 13 was "Let's close out this game now". This was intentionally taken from tennis and watching Pete Sampras close out games after breaking his opponents serve. I think, after talking with Tiina, that this is not effective language. It doesn't present any concrete goals or add to focus. It also sets up doubt in that if we don't score...well, then we didn't do what we were supposed to do. I think "Let's go for the kill" at 3-1 is the same thing. We talked at NUTC about saying, instead, "Let's recommit". Commit to running 10% harder. Commit to focus. I think that is better language. Now, I don't think that saying "Let's recommit" prevents the guy from yanking the pull out of bounds, but, perhaps, deciding to commit to focus could remind one not to throw an inside out along the right sideline.

The Slow/Strap game is similar. Close to begin with, but Slow pulls away. I have to leave to go rehearse with my rock band for my upcoming shows, but Slow beats QC for the 2 spot. It is a competitive section. QC is a good team and they will do some damage at Regionals. I think, after walking through CHC, that Slow realizes that the same will not be true in a few weeks.

Tandem looked good. They have picked up some talented players (Colin M, Pooja S, A Tong...and Tom Matthews...great to see him out there).

So, it was fun to check out some good Ultimate. My opportunities to see Ultimate (other than Whips practices) will be limited this fall. No CHC, one day of Sectionals, one day at Regionals (working the BC game on the 6th), and, sadly, no Nationals(the band I am playing with is opening up a series of shows at a theater in Boston on the Friday of Nats).


Monday, September 10, 2007


I have been trying to integrate the "Inner Game of Tennis" into my approach with the girls this year. Gallwey talks about talking less when working on mechanics, for example. He views "visual modeling"(my words) as a better way to approach getting the mind out of the way of the body. I am thinking about bringing in a camcorder so that the girls can see what they are doing. For now, I am just trying to demo (or have someone who is capable demo) something close to "proper form". I have one girl that has a few quirks with her throws and is also very critical of herself. When we discussed Gallwey's ideas about self 1 vs self 2, she replied "My self 1 hates my self 2". I figure there is hope if the sense of humor is still intact. Anyway, I decided to throw with her the other day and I said that we were going to throw together and we were just going to enjoy the experience and not think too much. I tried to chat a bit while we were throwing just to keep our minds, which weren't going to quiet down that much, at least distracted enough so that she wasn't overly critical of herself. It seemed moderately successful. The other thing I am trying to do is give her only one thing at a time to focus on with her mechanics. Gallwey talk about wanting the serve to be as mindless as turning on a light switch. So that's sort of what I am shooting for.

We have been doing "go to" a lot. I am starting to think "go to" is pretty much all you need as far as drills go. At our first practice, we did go to for a while and then I said that we would shoot for 25 completions in a row (turnover=start at 1 again). The girls had a reasonable amount of focus during the drill. Sometimes they were encouraging and counting out the completions, other times talking amongst themselves and I was the only one counting. So we ranged from 3 to 19 for completions. At the second practice, I asked why "25 completions". One of our 2nd year players said quietly "To psych us out?" That was pretty good answer. We talked about that when the team gets to 18, 19, 20 completions that we launch into our future brains ("what if I drop pass number 25?) and that this is exactly the same situation as when the game is 14-14. So, we want to play loose and quiet our judgmental minds (It is "bad" if we don't get to 25).

One error I have made in the past is assuming that the girls know certain aspects of the game. Like person defense. Last spring, due to this assumption, we really hadn't worked on person d much and it showed. We had to relearn the fundamentals at Sectionals and we did a pretty good job by Regionals. My captains this year are doing a good job of keeping my honest in this regard. At the third practice, the captains stopped the scrimmage early and we worked on inside/out and outside/in throws. Meaning defining what they are, going over the mechanics, and then working on them as a team. I was a bit surprised because I assumed that we all knew that stuff. So, it was a very positive exercise and I think the team will benefit from it.

Today we welcome all the new players. We will focus on bringing them in to the team and probably spend a lot of time on throwing. Our long term challenge will be to teach the new players the stack, throwing, defensive positioning, etc, etc, etc, while still moving the vets forward. We have some new structures in place to try to accomplish this, so it will be interesting to see how it works out.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

What's Going On

Seems like I have hit the ground running after a very fun and relaxing summer.

Worked the Wake Forest-BC game on Sat. I continue to find the way that the coaches speak to the players interesting. As I mentioned a year ago, the coaches are jumping from the small details("keep your elbows in on those blocks") to the big picture ("make them beat us with the pass"). The pre-game warm-up routines are highly scripted, but I thought it was interesting that there is little to no warm-up when they return from the locker room for the 3rd qtr. I am working the NC State game this upcoming Sat. Tom O'Brien's reception should be interesting.

Practice with the Whiptails begins today. We are having returning players practice this week, and then we will open things up for the new players next week. The focus this fall will be very much on offensive fundamentals. We will probably hammer away at a few basic principles. I am very curious about the number and experience of our new players. I am hope we can keep building on last year's trend of lots of motivated players.

I am helping with scheduling, etc for CHC. I am not going to be able to make the trip this year due to working the NC State game. I am going to be missing a bunch of tournaments this fall due to other commitments. I think CHC looks to be great, so I am bummed I am missing it.

Sectionals starts this weekend. In general, it seems like teams negotiated the Team Registration Deadline and emerged relatively unscathed. I hope the Coordinators find this is an improvement over past years.


Monday, August 27, 2007

On Vacation

Back after Labor Day....


Monday, August 20, 2007

O and D Development Timeline

I was on vacation last week. Thanks to those folks that stopped by the blog anyway....

On Micah Flynn's recommendation, I just finished Michael Lewis' "The Blind Side". Very interesting book that primarily deals with the story of Michael Oher's (now a sophomore at Ole Miss) rise from the ashes of Memphis' poorest slums. There are some very interesting subplots, however, like Bill Walsh's development of the "horizontal" version of the passing attack known, of course, as the West Coast O (Walsh's version, developed in Cincinnati, differs from Coryell's (whom Walsh worked with) in that the Charger's O was primarily vertical in nature). A subplot of this subplot is the rise of the left tackle(Oher's position and the protector of the QB's blind side) as one of the most important (and highest paid) positions on the field. This is due to Walsh needing the tight end to participate in the passing game, BUT having to have an answer for Lawerence Taylor's speed. The answer was basically the need for a "Freak of Nature" in the left tackle position. 6'5", 325 pounds of low body fat, and the ability to move this body across 40 yds in less than 5 seconds (in high school, Ohr was faster in 10 yards than anyone of the field...and he weighed over 330 pounds). Pretty much less than 1% of the population fits this body type. In any case, I found the tactical history of the West Coast O interesting and it made me curious about a discussion that arose a few weeks ago out of one of my NUTC posts; that is, when did certain strategies arise in Ultimate? So this post will put out the little that I know and is essentially a variation on Loring Holden's "Ultimate Timeline", which he posted to RSD in 93. I hope that folks can add what they know. Perhaps it will be informative.

I will start with the D and what is easy:

Mid-1970's: Zone- Pretty well documented that Rutgers U invented the zone and was using it by 1976. Eric Simon is quoted on the Rutgers U web site, and he describes the tactical decision for Rutgers to move away from zone in the championship game of April 1976. It is also documented that Irv Kalb brought the Rutgers zone out to California around this same time. The questions I have:

-what zone was this(by 1982, the only zone I recall was a cup zone)?
-how much did the Glassboro zone of 1979 differ from the Rutgers zone?

Mid-1980's: The Force- The force was discussed in my NUTC post. Jim P brought up that Kennedy and Kalb's book, published in 82, does not mention the force or the stack. I would love to get a sense of when this began and where it originated.

Late 80's-early 90's: The Clam- The history of the clam was discussed ad nauseum on RSD back in the 90's. Seems like Earth Atomizer was the first "big name team" to codify the Clam as a full-field/point D around 90-92. Dan Powers wrote in RSD that Bob Carroll from Florida invented the Clam. I actually played pick-up in Florida about 4 years ago and ran into this guy named Bob who claimed to have invented the Clam and then taught it to Lenny.....I was skeptical. Paul Sackley disagrees with Powers and attributes the Clam to the Mighty Popes in 86 and also states that his team, Mighty Tired, used it before Earth. One thing that is interesting is the amount of discussion about the Clam. Seems like it was a pretty big deal and changed the game for a while. Mooney asserted that the Clam "could only be used off a stopped disc" so it seems the Clam really benefitted from the 9th edition pull rules and has become less utilized since the 10th.

Early 90's: 1-3-3- First mention I recall is Mooney's Conceptual Ultimate from 94. The first mention I come across in RSD is 95. So is this a Boston/DoG invention?

Around this same time, the idea of zone to man transitions pops up. Again, Mooney covers this in Conceptual Ultimate.

Interesting that there is a thread on RSD about a new hybrid zone that Buzz Bullets and MUD are using.

Anything else for the D?

Onto the O:

Mid-70's: The Forehand- I watched a bit of the '75 game at the Rose Bowl on DVD and no one was throwing forehands. I imagine that the forehand was integrated shortly after this. I recall needing to know the forehand in 79-80 or so.

Early to mid 80's??:"4-person play"-big discussion on this in 99 on RSD with KD. In general, no one says that NYNY invented this, just that they popularized it and were unstoppable using it. Someone suggested that the Clam was an attempt to deal with this. I don't recall using this play in 80-82, but Coffin asked in this RSD discussion if this idea came from Cornell. if it did, it was after 82......

Mid-80's: The Stack??- As above, no mention in K&K's book from '82.

1987??: Horizontal Stack- There is reference on RSD to NY (at a tournament in Phoenix) using the "1987 Swedish" 3-4 offense. This seems pretty specific and Sweden was winning the Euro Champs every year around this. No Worlds in 1987......

Early 90's??: Spread O- There is a discussion in 91 on RSD about a new offense used by Santa Barbara. The O looked like the "dots of a 5 on dice, but with a few more spots". There is mention that this O used the "center of the field". I don't know if this O has anything to do with the spread O that we know of today.

1996-German- Pretty clear that Germany, at Worlds, brought out a thrower driven 4-1-2 to beat the Clam. I have seen the 3-1-3 variant used in Mixed with some success, but in general, it doesn't seem that "thrower driven" offenses have really taken hold.

No clue:

Anything else?
Note: This list is an acknowledged subjective listing in the sense that it discusses strategies that have been "mainstreamed". I haven't included things like "Plinko" or Frank's "Motion O".

It seems pretty clear that most tactical developments come as a response. The "new" (and higher paid) left tackle as a response to the quicker blind side rushes of LT or the nickle defense as a response to Lombardi's O innovations of the 50's. Somewhat similar to Ultimate. Perhaps we are in a period in which we are waiting for a D response to the spread/ho stack.

I did go back and look at some of the posts on RSD in the '91-'93 period. There was, probably not surprisingly, much more discussion about the basics of strategy than there is today.


Monday, August 06, 2007


Open up the paper on any given day and there are a plethora of current scandals in professional sports that titillate our moral core. Doping, corrupt refs, labor holdouts, and, perhaps the most egregious of all, a punter offing another punter for a starting spot. I am sure that you will be beguiled by the powers of my observation when I saw that that it all comes down to money. When one starts to consider the incentives and potential rewards in the current pro sports world, can we really be that surprised? If not surprised, then at least we have to be cynical. Maybe both reactions are unfair. Pro athletes are expected to be role models and it does seem a bit disappointing when we learn that they are not all nice guys (and gals? There doesn't really seem to be equivalent scandals in women's pro sports). While it is pretty easy, from the comfort of the daily drudgery of our office veal pens, to claim that we wouldn't be seduced by the money, are we really that sure? This post will take a speculative look at the impact of money on our precious little amateur sport.

I was at PT the other day and, during my exercises, an interesting conversation happened between two of the PT's. They were talking about a third PT, a common friend of theirs. It turns out that he was hired by Pedro the year he barely made it through the year due to his shoulder problems. Pedro's contract was structured such that he would receive bonuses after 20, 25, and 30 starts that year. In total, my numbers might not be totally accurate, he would receive a $500K bonus for 30 starts. Apparently, Pedro is pretty savvy when it comes to money, so he hired this PT to get him through the year. Their contract was also incentive based and, I believe, he would not be compensated unless Pedro got over 25 starts. This PT basically worked only for Pedro for the year. He would give treatments before and after Pedro warmed up. He would be working on Pedro's shoulder while Pedro was going through the business of his day. In the end, Pedro got his 30 starts and wrote a check to this PT for $165K.

The large contracts that pro athletes receive is pretty much in our face on a daily basis, but, speaking for myself, I have pretty much no clue about the details of the incentives that the athletes have as part of their contracts. I wouldn't call the above story "eye opening", but it did make me think about the impact of money, specifically incentives, would have upon Ultimate.

If one looks at the incentives for performance we have in Ultimate today, I think we can confidentially say that they wouldn't be enough reason to get out of bed for even the sponsored "amateur" Olympic athlete, let alone the pro athlete. Let's look at one pinnacle of our sport: winning the UPA's. The reward: your team name goes on the trophy and in the UPA Hall of Champs website. I think I can argue that Ultimate players are pretty ignorant of their history. How many folks can name the teams that won Nats in 1988? I can't. So the reward for winning Nationals is that no one will remember that you did. Perhaps an incentive with some actual meat on it is winning Nats in a WUC qualifying year. I do think that representing one's country is an honor, but in the context of monetary incentives, it still isn't on the radar. You get the cool gear, but you pay for everything else.

Of course, any sort of competition can get our juices flowing, but I am going to argue, for the purposes of this post, that, when comparing the financial incentives of current pro contracts with the incentives of today's Ultimate, there is very little reason to cheat, take steroids, or off someone because they get called to receive the pull more than you do.

So, I started to think about the potential impact of money on our sport. Let's imagine professional Ultimate with incentive-based contracts. Supposing, for example, that, like other sports, that every player on the UPA champ team received a monetary reward for winning Nationals. Or that a player would earn extra money for scoring x number of goals during the season. Or that a defensive specialist would get a bonus for a certain number of blocks at Nationals. How confident are we that the tenets of SOTG can withstand the pressures of performance-based financial rewards? If your answer is "not confident", it seems to me that we are talking about refs making binding calls. No more calling your own fouls and, at the minimum, getting a do-over. Another possible answer is "Not Confident, but SOTG (and self-officiating) is a necessary component of Ultimate". In this case, I think what is really being said is that Ultimate MUST remain a true amateur sport.

This post is, obviously, highly speculative, but it is not a doom and gloom scenario. It is simply offering my opinion that injecting money into Ultimate could offer a big challenge to the viability of self-officiating. However, if one agrees that adhering to self-officiating is a necessary component of Ultimate and that this adherence leads us down a path of permanent amateur status, does this not, to some small degree, inform our approach today?

I guess one could consider this post to be commentary on our ability to be honest. I do think I am a bit cynical in this regard, but there is at least one example of competitors doing the right thing in the face of huge financial reward and it is golf. I just finished reading John Feinstein's "Lessons of Q School" and it documents golfers navigating the rigors of qualifying for the PGA tour. At stake is literally the ability to play pro golf for the next year and hundreds of thousands of dollars. There was an example of a player letting the ball bounce while putting it back on the his spot for a putt. After he sank the putt, he was not convinced that he had replaced the ball to the correct spot before the putt. He reported this to the official at the end of the round and was disqualified. So this is an impressive act and maybe even testimony that self-officiating can withstand the pressures of potential financial reward, but I am skeptical, obviously.

I understand that the concerns of this post feel far way and that there are more pressing concerns like developing youth Ultimate. I agree with this, but are we not laying down the foundation for our Youth players? Are we being fully responsible to our youth players by avoiding thinking about whether the sport will remain an amateur experience for them? Or whether they will need to learn how to play at the highest level with refs? This be premature, but, it seems to me, at least worthy of a bit of thought and discussion.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Images by Brian Cook

Camper Counselor game: kids put out the "small" line. Not kidding. All Paideia/Amherst middle schoolers under 5' 2" against Dylan, Micah, Brent, etc......they throw into a poach and 1 pass later it is a goal for the counselors. On the way back to line I overhear the kids saying "I think our problem was we threw to the same 1/3 of the field as the cutter". Very cute. We chuckle now, but we were probably looking at the core of the 2012 Worlds team.

Overall, a young camp this week. Many middle school players, which is great. We need to be on high alert for dehydration, though, as the small kids have no body fat and they have to push themselves hard to keep up with the big kids.

Dylan won counselor distance, placing both first and second. Josh Seamon came in third. Tiina and Micah seeded the tournament. All 4 teams from Pool B made semis.

Closing camp feels like a big step toward the twilight of summer. Thanks to all our counselors, our wonderful nursing staff, and the staff at NMH.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

NUTC 2: Closing

More pictures from Brian Cook.

Lucky with the weather this week. Ebay and Derek in the finals tomorrow. Micah's string of making it to semi's ended. Campers didn't beat the Vegas over/under of 5...they scored 4: one by the girls, a camper throwing his SECOND career hammer for a goal, a camper ripping one from Adam Fagin, and a wild goal in which, after the campers completed a long huck off the pull, 4 counselors laid out, bodies everywhere, but the campers managed to get the goal.

The kids were very well-behaved and psyched to play this week. I even had a couple of campers ask me if I was a good player when I played. I was honestly touched. Of course this lead to the disc was made of rock, the stall count was 30 seconds, forcing had not been invented(true when I played in college), and there was only a club teams played in the fall series(also true when I played in college).

The counselors were a vet crew and made life easy for me and Tiina. Lots of parity in the teams this week, which was great. Jody did a lot of teaching work and his contribution to the curriculum can't be understated.

After the camper distance competition, we had a very brief and unfinished counselor distance contest. While not an official result, Andrew and Jody said they thought I won counselor distance with my one my hiking boots. Speaking of which, I have been doing a bit of work on learning how to throw golf discs. Pretty weird. I am managing to get some of them somewhat flat.


Monday, July 23, 2007

NUTC 2: New Start/Questions

Beautiful weather start to week 2. Chance of rain for the next couple of days, but the start has been great. Slightly smaller group this week. Our counselors:

Emily Baecher
Lexi Marsh
Jody Avirgan(NYC)
Sam Roberts
Derek Gottlieb(CO)
Micah Flynn

Andrew Hollingworth
Jason Chow
Adam Fagin(CA)
Leila Tunnell

We ran the camp hard yesterday...shuttle run relays, Chelsea's diamond run, foot fires, body builders, etc. I think the kids slept well last night. The general level of play seems to have increased over the past couple of years. In other words, more kids know more coming in.

Last week we did not have access to the fields in front of our dorm due to the soccer kids. We have this week, though, and DDC seems to be all the rage.

Zip....we figured out that technology for Sunday night. It worked great.

Questions that have been discussed under the tent and in the dining room:
1) Percentage of the time you set up "go to" and the lines are too close together.
2) Why is the transition to man always after 3 or 5 passes? Why does every team say "fire" for the audible?
3) Percentage of the time that a goal is scored after an "on field, in play" time out.
4) Percentage of possessions greater than 35 yards in which a goal is scored after a dump-swing is completed(dump-swing occurs any time during the possession).

Please feel free to weigh in. I will add the general consensus from here in the comments.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

NUTC: Finals/Haiku/Changes in Medicine

All photos are courtesy of Brian Cook Photography. I will include just a few shots that he took on Weds.

Dylan's team won the finals. I had to leave camp early to get to the doctor, but Dylan's team was very good this week. Nonetheless, the tournament was enjoyed by all. I heard that Leila said that her and Brent's first win in the last game of the tournament was her best NUTC moment...awesome.

The high point of the Talent Show was Zip doing Rec Specs??(I think that is what it is called) with two campers providing the music and narration. It culminated in Zip doing the worm on a table with a disc on his head and then doing a tango with Tiina.
Here is Jess' Haiku from the Talent show(Orin is one of our excellent nurses):


Where is my shoulder?
Someone go find Orin now!
No more Birdman game

I went to the doctor today and they took some more x-rays. They said that the folks at Greenfield did a great job resetting my shoulder. They threw away my sling saying "They used to restrict this injury, but sports medicine proved that to not be effective. Now we do PT and we say that you can do as much as you are able". So, that is great. I start PT next week.

More to come once week 2 gets going.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

NUTC 1: Wrapping Up

typing one handed as my wife is busy helping the counselors wrap things up. week 1 is almost a wrap. dylan's team plays micah's team in the finals and then we all go home.

adam fagan (nutc 06, carlton, mischief) stopped by for a few days. in general, the kids seemed to learn a lot and, for the most part, had a good time.

i noticed dylan helping out a few players with how to lay out. i went over to offer tips, but, for some reason, they didn't seem interested.

dylan's team beat zip in semis and micah beat sambob/ebay. both were very good games. hard fought, great plays, good energy.

i did manage to play "motorcycle girl" with my wife playing guitar....

overall, camper numbers are up 30% this year, so we have a couple of days to reload and then it begins again on sat.


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

NUTC: Week 1: Losing to Ego

Right before coming to camp I finished reading the newest release of The Inner Game of Tennis. Tiina put some copies out in the lobby, but we've received some comments from the campers in which they indicate that they're not tennis players. I think that the book should be called The Inner Game of Sports. The thing I took from this reading of the book is the battle between Self 1 (Ego) vs. Self 2 (the present mind/body). In general, I think I'm a person who manages this battle with a modicum of success, but this week I had a momentary failure in which I launched myself into the future and received a clear physical reminder of one potential consequence of forgetting to remain in the present.

This post will go into the NUTC happenings of the last day or so, while giving my own story, which provided fodder for this morning's presentation on remaining in the present moment.

Yesterday was a beautiful sunny, hot and full day of Ultimate. The campers seemed re-energized now that they have been assigned to their teams for the rest of the week. I think that the development of team-based bonds helps to break down the pre-existing alliances and cliques that the campers bring with them. The morning featured a lecture by Zip and Micah on some new NUTC offensive ideas. The teams put these ideas into practice in their first set of scrimmages with good effect. Dylan's team seems very strong and will probably get a Number one seed in the tournament.

During the day there was the usual smack talking about the Camper-Counselor game. Clearly this is a highlight for the campers as they get to match up against some of the game's biggest stars. For the counselors it is a chance to have some fun and blow off some steam. I felt that the big story might be Andrew Hollingsworth is his debut on the Destructor side erasing six years of humiliation by now being on a team which would score more goals in the first half than the total number of goals that he had been involved in as a camper.

In the course of this smack talk the subject came up as to whether I would participate. It was hard to communicate my personal reservations to our young bucks, but some of my concerns were chance of injury, being out of shape, and no real upside for any showboating, as my skills have always been mediocre at best. When Dylan asked me if I was going to play I said, "Probably not," and he replied "Well that's too bad, but I'm sure that you thought about it a lot and made the best decision for you." I always appreciate Dylan's sense of the big picture, and I had been giving it a lot of thought, weighing my above concerns against wanting to be team player and not a party pooper. My wife, of course, who is typing this post via dictation, was adamant that playing would be a bad idea. I even talked to Ruth and Tiina about how I really have nothing to prove, and wanted to keep my dignity intact.

So, after lunch we moved back out to the fields and did skill stations. The kids seemed a bit lethargic after lunch and being in the heat, but they still seemed to gain a lot from our counselors' excellent teaching. We finished the afternoon off with scrimmages in which teams are putting the finishing touches on for the tournament.

After dinner we headed out to the fields for the Camper/Counselor game. I deliberately showed up late in flip-flops with my daughter so that I could avoid any pre-game peer pressure. I arrived with the counselors up 2-1 as the campers were able to put a very good line out there, including the three kids from Columbia who play on the national team. The game was very entertaining as the Destructors inevitable began to trounce the campers, and we had a sideline show in Tiina's not surprisingly excellent Frisbee dog, Roo. I spent most of the game tossing with my daughter and viewing the proceedings with a slight detachment. The camper team did manage to score three goals, one of which was eerily reminiscent of Zip's follow-up catch for a goal in college finals. We did manage to have two all-female points played, which reinforced the general sense that our girl campers (27 this week!) are excellent players.

As the game wound down I started to think about how cool it would be (first mistake) if I were to play offense in the last point of the game. Of course, this means that the campers would need to score, so I had conveniently created a nice foil for my participation. Well, what do you know, the campers managed to score a goal, so I thought: this is the perfect time to go out barefoot and throw the final goal (second mistake). As I got to the line (Ruth turned to our nurse and said "Get ready") it became obvious that the play was going to be either George to Ted or Ted to George. At this point I was so caught up in the future that scoring the final goal seemed even more glorious (third mistake). It was decided. Ted to George. I said to the folks on the line that i. f it was a turnover I was going to call an injury time-out. We received the pull at the brick and I set myself up on the break side, and broke for the goal. Ted put out a disc that I'm sure Dylan or Zip would have caught easily, but for me, in my bare feet, was just slightly a stretch. As I entered into the end zone it became apparent that I was going to have to lay it out to catch this goal, so I did. I didn't get the catch, and my bid was slightly above falling down . I did manage to get my arms out in front of me and my legs fully outstretched, but as I landed I realized that something was very wrong. I immediately noticed a numbing sensation in my left shoulder, and as I stood up I realized that I had dislocated my shoulder to the point where my arm was hanging unnaturally by my side. I couldn't move my arm nor feel my fingers. I did not however want to freak out any of the campers or counselors, so I walked off the field (remember, I had pre-called an injury time-out) and indicated to Tiina that I needed to go to the hospital. I started walking toward the car, then my wife, my daughter and the nurse cam running up, and my family and I got in the car after the nurse quickly confirmed that I needed to go to the hospital. On the way to the hospital my wife never said I told you so and was incredibly nurturing.

A dislocated shoulder is a very painful injury. I was in a lot of pain, and I thought I was going to pass out a number of times. The Greenfield hospital staff, while busy, did seem to push me along as fast as they could. However, each wait along the way was excruciating. I only became comfortable after getting an IV with morphine in it, and it was at that time that two capable doctors put my shoulder back in place. They gave me a sling and pain meds and set us on our way.

Thanks to the wonders of morphine and Percaset, I slept fine, and the NUTC staff has been incredible in picking up my duties and being supportive. Dylan's first concern was whether I'd be able to play guitar in the talent show. We shall see...

So this experience has been a not-so gentle lesson in listening to your body, minimizing fantasy and expectations, and not letting one's ego override the body's sense of what is best for itself.


Monday, July 16, 2007


NMH was rather sleepy last year, but this year, we are on campus with both a soccer camp and....the American Idol camp! Very exciting. Interesting group of campers this week. Relatively few Massachusetts kids. Lots of kids from New York/New Jersey, Seattle, Nashville, plus three kids from Columbia. We are also starting to get the kids of some of the top players from the 80's.

Our counselors this week:

Micah Flynn(Boston)
Colleen Schmitt(Austin)
Emily Baecher(Mich)
Brent Anderson(Amherst)
Jess Huynh(Eugene)
Lexi Marsh(Toronto)
Dylan Tunnell(Atlanta)
Sam Roberts(Amherst)
Ted Munter(Boston)
Josh Ziperstein(Atlanta)

Awesome. Lots of new faces, but they just jumped in and it seemed like they had been here all along. Excellent teachers and role models.

We had our normal welcome meeting and the kids reacted with the usual horror about having to get up early for the first real day of camp. Indeed, as we moved to the fields in the bright morning sun, the kids seemed to get a bit of slow start. The kids are doing a a pretty good job of self-monitoring, but there is the usual...calibration as they get used to the standards and expectations of camp.

We ran them through the basic fundamentals and the skill level is pretty much all over the map. It was a tricky day as we had several thunderstorms that made us get off the fields quickly, but the campers were very patient and we only lost about an hour of scrimmage time.

Last night we divided the campers into teams and today we start working on some offense ideas.

More to come.....


Thursday, July 12, 2007

New UPA Registration/Rostering Guidelines

So, there are about 6 weeks to go until the new Team Registration Deadline of August 24th. Never enough time, really, to get the word out on what is, in my opinion, both a big deal and a cultural shift in the way the UPA operates. This year marks the final break from the idea that unregistered teams could walk up on Saturday morning of Sectionals and still participate. Granted, we have had a "Late Deadline" which created a buffer for those teams that missed the "Early Deadline", so teams have not been able to walk-up for a couple of years, but now it is don't get your roster in by August don't play.

Here is the link to the specific language in the 2007 Club Series Guidelines

These rules are going to make the jobs of our volunteer coordinators easier. They will know, for example, how many teams they will have at their event on August 24th! Gone, also, are the days of a team submitting an "invalid" roster (meaning between the old "early deadline" and "late deadline"), but taking a bid to Regionals from one of the teams that submitted a valid roster. So, if you are in a Section in which you are concerned about the number of bids you will receive to Regionals, you better let the other teams in your Section know that they must get their rosters in by August 24th.

I will summarize the two key changes for 2007:

1) Team Registration Deadline: All teams wishing to participate in the 2007 Club Series MUST submit a valid roster(7 players minimum, unless granted a college extension) via the online rostering system by August 24, 2007.

That's it. Simple. In order to play this year, your captain must submit your team's roster by August 24th.

2) Roster Deadline:
a) Teams must finalize their rosters by the Tuesday before Sectionals
b) Teams can drop as many players as they want between the Team Registration Deadline and the Roster Deadline
c) Teams can add up to 7 players(regardless of how many they drop)between the Team Registration Deadline and the Roster Deadline

So, in other words, if you submit a roster on August 24th with 20 players, you will be able to carry, at the maximum, 27 for the Fall Series. You could drop 4 and add 7 for a total of 23, but you will not have more than 27 for the Series.

I am happy to answer any questions, but I recommend contacting your SC if you have specific concerns.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Getting Ready for NUTC

On Friday, I will pack up and head out to Northfield Mount Herman for my third year at Assistant Director for NUTC. Can immersing oneself in Ultimate for three weeks be considered anything other than luxurious? Probably not, although in my case, getting the family either out to camp, or day care arranged for when my wife is at work in Boston, plus making sure that I am somewhat involved is a challenge. Ah...the sacrifices I make for this little game of ours......

I do think that NUTC will be great this year. Tiina and I have been having a bunch of discussions about tweaks to the program (both big and small), and, as usual, she is pushing things forward and making improvements step by step. There is a lot of reliance on the feedback we receive from both the campers and the counselors and Tiina if you are returning to NUTC this year, I think you will notice the attention to detail.

The list of counselors looks great. A couple of core folks will be missing this year due jobs and a wedding, but there are some exciting new faces(Ted Munter!?!! for example) that should spice things up in a different way.

I will be posting frequently from camp over the next few weeks. If you attending camp and are reading this: be prepared to have a great time. Take advantage of the opportunity that has been given to you. Try to be in pretty good shape...although if you are is pretty much too late.

I look forward to seeing both old and new faces. We have campers coming from new states(Wyoming!) plus the usual suspects from Atlanta, Seattle, California, Amherst, Boston, Chicago, New Jersey, etc, etc. We will also have some campers from the Columbian Worlds team(I don't speak any other I will be useless), so that is very cool.

More to come next week.....


Monday, July 02, 2007

Game Management: Time/Point Caps, Overtime

This post will go over the workings of the cap rules plus my opinions on "game management" during caps. As a TD, I have received many questions about how the caps work. As a spectator, I have seen many teams struggle with managing the end of games, and as a coach, I have my own ways of negotiating these points in the game. This post will hopefully condense these three points of view into something somewhat useful.

The rules around caps are specifically handled in Section V (Length of Game) in the 11th edition. Here is the section in its entirety:

Length of Game
A) Game to goals: A game is played until one team first reaches or exceeds the game total, with a margin of at least two goals or until a cap is reached.

1) Caps are maximum score limits imposed before or during a game to limit the time required to declare a winner. The game ends when one team’s score first reaches the cap.
a) A point cap is a maximum score limit imposed before the event.
b) A soft time cap is a maximum score limit imposed during a game once a predetermined time of play has elapsed and after the current scoring attempt is completed.
c) A hard time cap is the ending of the game once a predetermined time of play has elapsed and after the current scoring attempt is completed. If the score is tied, play continues until one additional goal is scored.

2) The team with the most goals at the end of the game is the winner.

3) A standard game has a game total of 15, with a point cap of 17.

B) Halftime begins when one team’s score first reaches or exceeds half of the game total, and lasts ten minutes.

C) Overtime begins when the score is tied at one goal less than the game total (e.g., in a game with a game total of 15 goals, overtime begins when the score reaches 14-14).

-Nomenclature--Teams need to get the nomenclature straight. Sure, it is confusing that the names of the caps changed with the 11th, but it is time for us to molt and stop referring to the point cap as the soft cap.

-Once the soft time cap is in effect, you play to that score. There is no win by two.

-If a soft time cap or hard time cap occur either during half time or while waiting for the pull, the teams need to play the next point and then put the cap into effect. It is important to understand when a point (scoring attempt) begins and ends(This is defined in Section II.Q).

-Overtime--Overtime seems to be continually confusing. With the 11th, its occurrence is simplified. In a game to 15, overtime is 14-14....even if the game is capped at 15. The other thing is timeouts. In overtime, each team has ONE timeout regardless of how many they had prior to overtime.

That is the mechanics of the cap rules. Here are some thoughts on game management:

-I don't agree with the "no timeouts in the cap" rule as has become all the fashion these days. If the concern is keeping the tournament running on time, caps, specifically the hard time cap, can easily be used to accomplish this purpose. As a coach, I view usage of timeouts is one of the few means of managing the game and coaches shouldn't be punished for keeping timeouts available.

-I really like to have a timeout available for the end of the game. In general, I am not in favor of timeouts during a point, specifically when a player has caught a long pass and is by themselves close to the endzone. This situation happens frequently enough that the offense should know how to handle it and, if not, it can be drilled. I want to use my timeouts, at the conclusion of points, to stop the opponents run or to take a quick breather and re-calibrate. I do think that if the team is driving for the win and the hard cap is not a concern, then taking a timeout close the endzone can be a good call.

-While it may sound unsavory, there have been times, when we have been clinging to a lead and the time between the soft time cap and hard time cap is 15 minutes or less, that using timeouts can be a means of protecting a lead and shortening the clock. The best example I have of this is when Nell called a timeout after we scored just 30 seconds before the soft time cap in our pool play game against MIT in 06 Sectionals. We had a 2 point lead and with the hard cap coming in 10 minutes, and we were able to effectively reduce the time needed to protect our lead.

-I always have my cell phone for keeping track of the exact time. I am aware of the caps well in advance.

-Perhaps I am gun shy about running out of timeouts due to 6TM's 04 semi against CLX. We used both our timeouts early in the second half. The second timeout was used during a point to set up an endzone play. I think a timeout would have been very useful in stopping their big, back breaking run at the end of the game. As anyone can call a timeout, I think a team has to be exacting in communicating when the team has the green light to call a timeout.

-A very good test of maturity and mental toughness occurs when you are behind by 1-2 and the caps are imminent. Playing loose while pressing to get a break or get a quick score is a great challenge and basically puts the mental paradox of sports in a nutshell.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Games Within the Game

I went for a little trot today on the beach. Maybe my little paunch that I have developed protruded a bit too much out of my wetsuit. The wetsuit is necessary in the 55 degree water down here at the Cape. Anyway, I was on my little trot when I ran into Bill Stewart and his son Robin. Former Metal guys. Friends from way back. Are these two the only father and son duo playing at the elite club level?

After my run, I settled into the spot where my family was boogie boarding, etc. I was there for a bit when I noticed, from afar, Bill, Robin, and a few friends playing a game of honey pot. First, it was nice to see real throws on the beach, and second, Ultimate players are just so quirkily restless. They are always up to something. Their game reminded me of an idea I heard about of documenting The Games Within The Game...other wise known as Alleviating Boredom. Here is the start of a list(by no means comprehensive....I never play any of these). By all means jump in.

1) Ro-Sham-Bo
2) Milk
3) Honey Pot
4) Goaltimate(?)
5) Hot Box
6) Frisbee, Banana, Water Bottle, Shoe, Goldfish
7) Bear Ninja Cowboy
8) Miniature Tanks


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Boston Invite Write-Up

It has already been posted on RSD that the results of this year's Boston Invite are surprising. The primary reason is, of course, Boston not winning the thing in the Open Div. The question on RSD is: when was the last time this happened? Well, I will tell you. Ring won in 04, Sub Zero in 03, Ring beat a split squad in 02, and Florida won in 01. So, it is way too premature to be confidently predictive based on what happened this past weekend. In fact, my take on the weekend is that the story was, as usual, teams having different agendas coming into the weekend, be it finishing tryouts(Boston, Slow White), learning how the new roster is working (Shazam, Slow White, Boston), refining and early building(Brute Squad, Mischief), or in the final stages of ramping up for Canadian Nats (Capitals, GOAT). It is seductive to try to write off the top dogs as faltering or on a downward spiral, but it is a long season. What follows is my observations, sometimes very detailed and written in real time on the fields, others in retrospect. As usual, a big thanks goes out to Barbara, Tracy, Geoff, and Josh for running a great tournament. The weather was great and things seemed to go without a hitch.

Mixed Division:

Largely due to the work of Slow White, specifically Kris Kelley and Mike Miller, but also with the top Mixed teams buying in to a general sense of season, this was an awesome field here in Boston. The first person from the Mixed Div I saw on Sat morning was none other than Steve Finn(see my traveling well post), who is getting the band back together in the form of Shazam Returns. This incarnation looks familiar if you think back to 04, and the intentions of this team are clear to the observer, especially when one considers what their leader has accomplished in the past three years. Steve told me that he had 80 tryouts this spring.....and 50 very good players got cut. Shazam came to play here in Boston and stated that fact early in their first round 15-4 dis-assembly of Slow White. Shazam ran an effective zone in the windy conditions and Slow White is a consistent team, even to the extent that they prefer calm conditions. One observer, who knows Slow, said to me “They are not a morning team”. I heard that Slow felt that they were jet lagged, not their West Cost opponents. Clearly, that is a mental area of the game that will need to be addressed come October....especially considering that their first game was at 11am.

Brass Monkey showed up with a smaller squad than usual, but the folks they brought are very talented. Nate Miller consistently impresses me with his calm leadership and talent. He is probably the only non-College 07 player I saw all weekend, in any division, who actually marks with legal 11th edition marks(the wrap around marks in Open are ridiculous...not even close to being legal 11th marks). I felt that Brass Monkey, with the jet lag and small squad, might run out of gas by the end of the day, but they handled Tandem in the early game before squeaking out a 13-12 victory over Slow White in the second ground. Brass showed resolve and toughness in this game going down 11-9 before gutting out the win.

Mischief showed up with a full squad this weekend and they began their game against Flaming Moe with energy and intensity. They are obviously athletic and have several of the most athletic men in the division in the Smith Brothers and Tyler Grant. Mischief’s O runs through several of these guys and while they like the long game, they seemed pretty comfortable in the strong winds that began the day. Shazam’s win over Slow in round up set up a big match at the end of the day with the South Bay crew, and, due to the round robin format, could very well be the final. Shazam went up several breaks in the first half to take the half 8-5. I never like three point leads. Shazam is focused and both teams are athletic, so it is a fast paced, intense game. Not many turns so the quality is about as good as one can expect, especially this early in the season. The teams trade through the second half and at 13-11, Mischief pulls out a zone look of their own. Mischief gets two breaks to tie it up at 13-13. Shazam converts on O then gets a handblock and converts, game over…Shazam wins 15-13.

Sunday morning: Brass Monkey vs Mischief in a big west coast battle. They trade although both teams have some miscues. A big Brass hammer floats but it scooped up by Josh Greenough to maintain a 5-4 lead. Mischief then turns and Nate Miller puts it to Coco who makes the big lay out for the score and the break. Mischief turns it twice, once on a very bad hammer by a Smith brother, but they get a turn and out it to Tyler for the score.. Mischief takes half with three breaks, culminated by a Callahan from youngster Adam Fagan.

It was around this time that I got my first ride on a Segue. Very cool. I think the tournament should rent me one for the weekend.

Flaming Moe takes half against Slow White 8-4. Slow brings it to 9-6, but the O seems a bit out of sync. Slow has a large roster. Perhaps managing this is the real task of the weekend? Moe is ramping up having played Mischief, Shazam, and Brass Monkey on Saturday. Paul Norgaard is back on Moe and adds some real firepower to that team. Moe is buying into the season and are traveling to ECC in Aug.

Mischief starts to pull away from Brass and it is 12-7, but Nate Miller is starting to do more work downfield and busts long to make it 12-8.

Slow is trying to build the energy and make a run. Slow gets the turn and puts it to Hunt Allcott, who toes the line, 11-9. This point is pretty sloppy with a bunch of turns, but Slow breaks again 11-10.

Mischief closes the game out 15-9.

Moe regroups and is able to get some breaks back. They put it to Guy Pugh for the win 15-10.

Brass and Shazam are battling. Shazam is mixing up zone and man. Brass gets a break to tie at 6’s. Shazam takes half on a big run by Mickey Thompson.

Amp is finding their game against Slow. I think SW is not sure if they are sorting out their roster or they are trying to win the thing. Amp goes up 9-5. Slow goes on a 3-0 to pull to 8-9. Slow battles back to 11's and then closes out the big comeback win.

Shazam continues to press in the second half. Steve Finn makes a very nice deep cut off a give and just beats his Brass defender for the goal. Shazam is able to close the game out and essentially lock up their possession of the Boston Invite tournament. Congrats to them on a great showing.

In general, Shazam looks very strong as does Mischief. The division will benefit from almost this same exact field of teams competing at ECC in August. I would like to thank all the teams for making the trip and creating a great event.


Like Mixed, the Women’s div has a high quality field. Brute Squad is camped out on field 8 for the duration. Brute Squad looks solid all Saturday, although Layuma’s zone causes them to work hard. Lady Godiva was up and down over Saturday, but scored a big win over Backhoe to take third place in the pool.

Small Rackages is a new Women’s team made up of Bait plus Chad Larson's better half. They looked good as did Capitals who won the B pool. As I mentioned earlier, Capitals is on a bit of a different pace than the rest of the teams as their championship is rapidly approaching

Small Rackages plays very well against Godiva. Godiva has some young players, but SR is athletic and dominates with a 15-4 win. Godiva had some of the old guard like Johanna, Sarah C, Jess B around, but the team is obviously just getting going.

Semis: Brute vs Small Rackages. SR is hanging with Brute in Semis. They have opportunities to tie and they do at 7-7. Brute is playing well, but SR likes to work hard. They trade to 10's before Brute goes on a run and wins out. Capitals is handles Backhoe in a pool play rematch. I actually had leave during the final to head down to the Cape for vacation, but I just read in the SRT that Capitals won 15-6. Congrats on a great showing.

I spent much of the first round Saturday checking out the Open div games, and the Pony-Boston game was quite the way to start the tournament. Very fast and athletic, but a high number of turnovers that probably indicates early season rustiness. PoNY has added some players notably BVH and Bailey Russell, but Boston is, of course, completely new with added talent in the form of Kurt Gibson and Ben Faust. The game is close throughout. They play right on through the Soft Time Cap and PoNY is up 14-12 as the hard cap is coming on, but Boston has the disc and is moving up the field. Boston completes a pass to near the goal line and calls a timeout??!! This was the first of many examples of, in my opinion, not great time management by a bunch of teams. In this case, though, not only was the timeout questionable, but it was handled 3 minutes in length...not 90 seconds. By the time Boston got the disc in play, the hard cap came on with the disc in Forch's hands. He throws a hammer for the goal, but it is game over.

I spent most of my time over between the Mixed and Women's fields, but there are probably many blogs which will give good info on the Open field.

I did watch some of the Boston-Van Buren Boys qtrs, which Boston rolled. Van Buren Boys(basically Chad Larson men) made their debut with a small squad and, in the words of Shawn W, "it was very clear that this was our first tournament together". The Boston game was over pretty quickly as VBB had trouble converting their long looks and Boston was able to convert the breaks.

Boston took half against Truck Stop 8-5, but I heard from Ted Munter that they gave up a 5-0 run in the second half before succumbing 11-15. So, there is some work to do there for the hometown boys. Congrats to GOAT on winning the Open div.

I did follow how Big Ego was faring in the fast lane. They won their pool on Sat, but lost to Zebra Muscles in the play-in game. Maybe that 1st round bye was pretty enticing. Of course, this resurrected hopes of the Colt 45-Big Ego death match (with Boston having a bye, no less), but, unfortunately Colt 45 crapped the bed and descended into the bowels of the Eastern Div. Big Ego pulled out a 1 point win against Gunslingers and found themselves in the Semis against a good New Noise squad(who played Pike 14-15 in the elite play-in game). NN takes the half 8-7. I hear one of the NN players say "Don't give Parinella so much cushion. Make him go through you if he wants to go deep". Clearly things got pretty physical as Jim suffered nasty gash on his eye going for a goal at 12-12. Simon V, as usual, worked very hard, and it was fun to watch Marshall and Al work the disc in small spaces. Al has a very quick backhand release and the two of them work well together. NN kept pressing and pulled out the 15-14 win.

Two quick things to wrap up:

1) I received a complaint about having the hard time cap coincide with the start of the next round. To me, this kept things simple as the players never know what the horns mean, plus it meant that the hard cap was used as a stop gap to keep the tournament basically on schedule....which, in my opinion, is the purpose of this cap. I am curious about feedback on this idea.

2) People need to learn how the caps work. In both this tournament and Mixed/Masters Easterns, there was confusion about whether teams needed to win by two in the Soft Time Cap. We need to, as a whole, get much more up to speed on these rules.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Boston Invite Preview

Summer is here and so is the Boston Invitational. We have something like 70 teams competing this year. The fields should be in great shape, so it should be a great tournament. Here is my take on a divisional alphabetical order:

8 of the top 10 teams in the country(including 3 West Coast powerhouses and top teams from 4 of the 6 Regions). Awesome. This came together largely due to the efforts of Slow White in reaching out to the Mixed Nats teams and getting them organized. SW felt that more inter-regional play would help develop a sense of season, increase the quality of Mixed play, help prepare the teams for Nats, and, my favorite, help with seeding Nationals. SW also organized and pushed for quality Mixed teams to attend ECC and CHC, so they should be commended for their efforts. I think it will be interesting to see how the traveling teams do.

There have been some comments that the Open div is a bit "weak" this year. Only 2 Nats qualifiers this year. While I think the top 5-6 teams pretty much have the only shot at winning the thing, perhaps the wide open nature of the teams will create some interest? Who will play up or down? Hey, maybe some lack of predictability will be good for this entrenched div.

I am looking forward to getting a look at the Boston Ultimate team. With Graham's injury is this really a merger? Will the approach be different from DOG? Speaking of which, I am also interested in how Big Ego will fare when playing against the kids. Which brings up, of course, due to this, the potentially delicious BEU-Colt 45 rematch in Div B semis.....if things go to seed (and that is a big if). Will Colt 45 prevail again despite MD's adolescent definition of intensity? Or will Jimmy P make MD eat his words? Pull up a chair, folks. Plenty of heckling fodder there.........

Maybe I have saved the best for last? Mixed gives them a run for the money in terms of quality, but this the largest Women's tournament at BI in a number of years and it stock full of quality teams (8-10 Nats level teams plus many high placing Regional teams). I think it is likely that we will see a Brute-Backhoe final, but with a new 12 team elite div...there will plenty of good games.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Thoughts on Focus, Preparation and Performance

When I was in high school, there were a few of us that played sports (mostly soccer) and were involved in music, art, etc at the same time. There was clearly tension between the "freaks" and the "jocks", but there was not any overt least in the circles I was in. This tension continued in college. I actually think there was more of a distinction at UMASS in the early 80's. I would hazard a guess that the "arts" folks felt more uncomfortable with the jocks than vice verse, but I did make a choice to move away from sports in 1982 and pursue music "seriously". I think if one looks at the current landscape there is more tolerance for pursuing different things in one's life. Perhaps this is just due to the fact that I am older and have a pretty good sense of self at this point, but most of the kids in my daughter's 4th grade class are "over-scheduled" with sports, arts, language, etc.

In general, I have pursued either music or Ultimate during my life, but, over the past couple of years, I have come as close as I have to pursuing both simultaneously...even if I am not playing on the field.

This past weekend I wrapped up a series of eight shows at a local theater in Arlington, and it has been interesting how the sports psych principles that I work on with my girls come into play in terms of performing music. Much of this is repeating what I have said before, but it is helpful to be reminded that the basic principles of mental preparation can come into play repeatedly and in different aspects of one's life:

-Focus on the the things you can control--We had one or two nights in which our crowd was a bit smaller than anticipated. I spoke to one leader in the group and he was concerned that the morale of the group might be low due to the smaller crowds. We talked about the size of the crowd as an "uncontrollable". I try to focus on 1) knowing the material and 2) being in tune....not on the size of the crowd or their response.

-Intensity is focus on the present execution of fundamentals--Using emotion as source of intensity or drive is opening yourself to the ups and downs of your emotional and energy cycles. I found that the more I focused on execution first, the more I was able to tap into higher and, most importantly, consistent, emotional states. I think many of the Ultimate players I played with and the musicians I play with now are dependent upon external factors for their intensity....or on an "emotionally" driven sense of intensity, which, in my opinion, results in inconsistent performance.

-Preparing for games(or a performance) should be the same for all games (or important performances)--We had a classic example of not doing this this past weekend. On Saturday, the gig was "important"...investors coming to see the show, etc. All of a sudden our routine changed. Everyone warmed up in a different way and there was at atmosphere of "this is serious". Well, we played fine, but just slightly tight. On Sunday, when it "didn't matter"...surprise...we went back to "normal"...and we played loose and fun. Sound familiar? There is no doubt that your mental state will be different for finals than for round 1 of pool play, but this is all the more reason to rely on familiar routines for preparation. Want to be loose in the finals? Then warm up on Sat morning the same way you prepare on Sunday afternoon.

-Keep your brain in the present-- Focus is a big deal. It takes a lot of experience to maintain concentration for an entire game. All my mistakes this weekend came when my mind was not in the present. I was thinking about what just happened or what was going to happen.

So, it was am interesting experience to apply this stuff to an area outside of what I am used to. It was also helpful to subject myself to what I ask of my girls. In general, I was relaxed, focused, had good execution, and, best of all, I had a very good time.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Mixed-Masters Easterns/Other stuff

I drove up to Devens on Friday afternoon to see how preparations were going for Mixed/Masters Easterns. Last year, we had the main grid(fields 1-12) done by about 3pm. This year, I drove up and Barbara and her crew had the whole thing finished. Lined, coned, water stands, portopotties, field signs....all ready to go. She did a remarkable job is handling the basic logistics of the tournament, including the bulk of the registration. Geoff, Tracey, and Shiellah also did a tremendous amount of work, and the teams seemed to appreciate all the effort that the staff put in. Really, those guys did a lot of work.

I was unable to stay around that much this year as I was performing in a music group in nearby Arlington. I did get to see a few games and it was good to socialize a bit.

Saturday seemed, in general, to be a day to get things ramped up as there were lots of drops and throwaways. The focus seemed to be turned on for Sunday as the intensity and level of play really jumped.

I stopped by to check out the Masters a bit. Good to see the old Dog guys out there. I am sure Al will write about how he did and Jim will write about how the team did, so I won't go into much detail.

Other news:
What is it with the assumption that caps affect timeouts? When did that get started? Why is that treated like the default now?

I have been moderating the Credibility topic over at the UPA stratgeic planning blog. I came upon this article here. I am not sure I really agree with all of it. In the end, what we think matters little. The almighty dollar is really what defines whether an activity is "legit" or my opinion.

All-region awards came and went again. Another year in which my girls got shut out. Part of me thinks there is not a better sign of our depth and team-orientation than this(only one other school in the country finished third or higher at Regionals without an All-Region Player). That, of course, is positive George. Dark Side George wonders if this popularity contest really serves any useful purpose.


Monday, May 21, 2007

Traveling Well

Nope...this isn't about taking advantage of SOTG.

Club season is beginning to kick into high gear and teams are starting to travel all over the place to tournaments. Many times, it seems to me, the "home" team, or at least a team in the very near vicinity, wins tournaments. Obviously, there are no frothing crowds to create a home field advantage, but perhaps we don't travel that well as teams. Certainly, there isn't any kind of structure or the type of amenities that even a professional minor league team demands, so I do think that traveling does test a team in terms of its ability to create a sense of structure(off the field). It also tests the team goals and the individuals responsibility to take care of the things they can control. In a sense, most teams rely of their specific level of athleticism to get them through, but there might be ways to increase a teams performance by paying attention to the details of traveling.

So, what are some things that a team can do to travel well? I don't suspect that many folks will want to reveal their company secrets, but I am curious as to both the positive and negative experience that folks have had.

Here are some things I have noticed have worked well for me:
-Having a set time to get to the fields in the morning. I think it is important that there are some kind of consequence for being late.
-A defined and set routine for warming up.
-Getting enough sleep.
-Having good directions to the fields.
-Clear process and outcome goals for the event.

As an individual, I had a pretty OCD routine for the morning of tournaments:
-cleated up and warming up 45 minutes before the first pull
-arrive at the fields 1 hour prior to the first game
-breakfast(plenty of water, 2 egg and cheese sandwiches, small coffee) 2 hours prior to the first pull(varied a bit depending on driving time to the fields)
-wake up, long hot shower and stretching 2.5-3 hours prior to the first game.

So, if games started at 9am, I was up at 6-6:30. This was hard when I had arrived the night before and if there had been time zone changes.

I think teams can place a bit of time and energy into planning and thinking about how they travel as a team. I will be looking at this a bit s the summer progresses.