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.


gapoole said...

In my first year of high school Ultimate, we had to deal with tardiness at almost every tournament, because we were a bunch of kids trying to wake up and drive to the fields. In my junior/senior year, it was much easier--the school provided us with a bus to all the local tournaments and we were more organized in getting to the distant ones. But each year, we had a defined warmup routine, and I like to think it kept us on the same page mentally.

In college, we tried to make sure we had enough sleep, a decent breakfast, and enough time to warm up (30-45 minutes), but there were times when we did not have enough time to warm up, and we definitely suffered for it. Our routines varied, which I didn't like, but I think overall the warmup routines in college were better than the ones I used in high school.

I just played my first mixed club tournament, and we specifically did not warm up together. It was a tryout tournament, the team has only had one tryout practice, so it was up to every individual to get ready. I missed the first game on Saturday due to transportation issues. I did an abbreviated warmup, but after a few throwaways early in my first game, I think I played surprisingly well. On Sunday, I did no warmup other than throwing, and again it showed. I don't think I personally need 3 hours, but I do think I need a more defined routine in order to prepare, physically/mentally, for a game.

gcooke said...

Hey Glenn,

Just to make sure I was clear, 3 hours was from waking up to the first point.

You have a bunch of stuff in yor comments. I have a couple of thoughts;

-I think 1 hour is the minimum time for showing up at the fields.
-My opinion is that a BIG breakfast 1.5-2 hours is the way to go. I did a bunch of work on sports nutrition and I think lots of fuel is in order, but it needs to be consumed well in advance.
-I sometimes found it hard to integrate my personal warm up routine into the team's routine. I believe the team needs to warm up togther, but I do feel that it is ok for an indivisual to also warm up on their own. One thing that was helpful for me was that I would lead the active warm-ups for 6TM, so that got me integrated a bit better.


Marshall said...

We're such a weird sport.

Home teams may well win in part because traveling teams are usually missing people.

That said, the idea of being up and moving around 2-3 hours before the event, and especially eating a good, big breakfast early, seems like a no-brainer. Except that Ultimate starts at 9:00. As a practical matter, who wants to be up at 6:00? And especially on Sunday, since Ultimate parties are so much fun...

I remember one time reading a Manchester United player (might'a been Beckham) complaining a bit that his team had so many of the showcase, early Saturday games at noon, since that meant he had to be up at 9:00 eating a big plate of pasta for breakfast.

parinella said...

I think that using warmup time for just throwing is highly inefficient. I'd bet that your throws would be more game-ready by taking 10 throws and then running (with some sprinting and crossovers and the like) for 10 minutes than they would be by using that extra 10 minutes for throwing. (You could easily do a controlled experiment on this, but make sure that you have a 2 minute break after the 10 minutes just in case there is some short-term hangover effect from having thrown a bunch.)

The following exceptions apply:
1. Wind that affects particular throws (say a hammer) and you want to test it out.
2. Your arm is truly tired or sore or old and you need extra time to loosen it up, a la a baseball pitcher.
3. Your throws are still on the learning curve, so the warmup doubles as practice in which you hope to improve (but this is still more appropriate for practice warmup than game warmup).
4. You use the throwing time as visualization for the upcoming game, mentally making passes to actual cuts in specific places on the field.

So, maybe I'd still recommend throwing, but only when it's part of a routine of running and throwing to cuts. I think the "20 forehands, 20 backhands, 20 inside outs, etc." is a waste. If you don't mind spending an hour and a half for the warmup, then go ahead.

gcooke said...


I think I once said to you that I never attended an Ultimate Party. I was always in bed.


I think most folks that any time spent warming up throws was a waste in my case. I mean, how much time do I need to get my 10 yard backhand and forehand passes together?


gapoole said...


I never party either. I agree that a decently large meal is a requirement, but I don't like to play on a full stomache, and two sandwhiches is too much for me, even after two hours. A bowl of oatmeal+fruit+nuts, or a bagel with egg and sausage, does me just fine. Active warmups are awesome, but I do like some brief static stretching too. Mr. Doo says it has no place before a game, but I find that my groin and hamstrings need a little loosening.


I had not thrown in at least a week prior to the tournament, so I needed a little reminder of what a flat backhand looked like. I agree, though, it is far more beneficial to throw within a drill. Go-to is a simple favorite.

gcooke said...

One thing that I found helpful when sleeping in a hotel and getting ready for Sunday was to take a very hot shower and stretch in what is essentially a sauna.

This would get me limber enough that I could go get breakfast and then do an active warm-up at the fields.


parinella said...

ga, I don't even like most drills for throwing. Far too few touches and running per minute, and they aren't even game-realistic.

I can see a drill if your team is just going to be doing "static throwing" or just hanging around, but if the players are going to be running around, I'd rather see them doing the active warmup and then active throwing, maybe with a long drill or a thrower/cutter drill or breakmark drill.

Then again, my view is from a mature team. Maybe newer teams need a little more structure.

(But I'm also thinking about professional teams which seem to have structured warmups. I think those differ because they target each skill group with their own warmup.)