Thursday, April 30, 2009

Nationals 2009

I attended Nationals this year, but I didn't play. Essentially, I went along to watch, but because I was supporting the Indies and Karma, I didn't get to see as many different teams as I would have liked.

There are a couple of games worth mentioning. The first Firestorm vs Karma was an interesting game to watch. After the first couple of points I thought Firestorm was going to run away with it, they were looking the much stronger team, but the Karma boys fought back through the hands of Joel Pillar. What pleased me most about the fightback, and in particular Joel, was the defence. Joel is a defensive receiver on the Dingoes team, but here in SA he's most often a lazy handler. It was really good to see him laying out and reading the play to get blocks, it's the first time I've actually seen him play properly. Last year he was too broken to play effectively at nationals, and there is no footage of him on the worlds DVD, so it was great to see him going all out.

It should be noted that Firestorm didn't have Mike Nield in this game either. He would have made a difference given the lack of wind and the throwing abilities of Firestorm. I don't think the inclusion of Finn in the Firestorm team helped them either. Not because Finn's a terrible player, but because there is no way in hell Dutch and Matt in particular were going to let him win. I thought letting Finn defend Dutch would give Karma an advantage, but in the end it just resulted in a lot of foul calls.

I think Karma surprised everyone with their win and they were pretty happy about it, but the rematch was a very different story. Karma lost Joel to a dislocated shoulder and Firestorm gained Mike Nield. If anyone stood short of Nield, he just headed for the endzone and scored. Karma didn't have anyone who could stop him and it was obvious from the sideline what was going to happen.

The final was fun to watch, although I'm not sure it was good ultimate. Chilly's offense just moves the disc around until Gak get's it, then he throws something crazy and they score. He threw an almost full field length hammer. That's a poor throwing choice for anyone. I think Gak dumped it once in the whole game. Honestly, if you're marking someone and Gak has the disc, mark them deep, force them under. If they go deep, Gak is going to hit them for the score.

I would love to see Gak as a receiver. He's a billion feet tall and looks like he's probably got some hops, yet I saw him jump for a disc once in the whole game. I would love to see him at full stretch skying someone, so it was a real shame Matt Dowle wasn't playing to perhaps force him down the field a little. Watching him on defense didn't teach me anything either. A lot of poaching and a lot of ambling around. If I was a coach, I'd be yelling at him.

Throw of the tournament for me was Warrick Shephard's breakside scoober for a score. I didn't know you could throw bullet scoobers, but apparently you can.

On the womens side of things, I really wanted to see Box beat Wildcard. It looked like they were going to do so a bunch of times, but Wildcard just reeled it back in. So many hucks for a women's game, but I guess that was due to the fantastic conditions.

All in all, an entertaining nationals, although the party sucked balls until it ended. The beer was horrible, the room was too dark to see, too loud to hear and you couldn't drink outside where the pizza was. Separating pizza and beer should be outlawed. The drinks service was slow and the serving people were overly stressed. I talked to Tim Booth in the street after the event and he was quite drunk, I'm astounded he didn't fall off the roof and hurt himself and/or someone else. From an OHS standpoint, I don't think canning the party and kicking a hundred drunk people out onto the street was the correct thing to do. It took many people an hour or more to get a taxi. Some people just decided to walk into Freo, which didn't strike me as a good idea, especially wearing only a g-string. There was also no-where to go after the party, which I found quite annoying as I wasn't playing.

And for future reference... include a disc in the player pack. Always.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Well, that didn't work. My goal of having no turnovers was dashed as I grounded my first pass.

All in all, a horrible game. We were well and truly beaten, and I was unable to contribute anything positive to the stats, which are looking more and more skewed towards receivers.

There were some positives to be taken from the game however. Firstly, I didn't really have any brain explosions and all of my turnovers came from basic skill errors instead of poor decisions. That's good because basic skill errors are easier to improve than decision making I find.

My defense was once again my strong point. Although the other team was scoring at will, my man really wasn't getting the disc. I got scored on twice. Once because I stopped 3 or 4 cuts by my man in short and he eventually gave up and went long where his significant height advantage meant he was always going to catch a hammer. The second time I held off a bit on my mark to set myself up for a D and then didn't even attempt the layout. Probably a good thing given the context of the game and the hardness of the ground. I don't really need another injury.

The ankle was much better. Shin pain was replaced with ankle pain again which I count as a positive. I should see physios and do my rehab more often.

The team played really poorly last night. Pressure on the mark was very good and we were lacking in handlers, meaning I had to handle which I'm really growing to dislike. I started as a defensive receiver and I really think that's the best position for me.

Monday, February 16, 2009


So here in Adelaide we've been playing Super League. Super League is kind of a hat league but not quite so random, with four captains picking their teams from the list of available players according to their own strategies. It's been good, and one of the good things about it has been some stats keeping during the games. We're recording Goals, Assists and D's, but we're also recording Throwaways and Drops. 

I've not been doing well. Part of this is my ongoing ankle injury. My ankle is seized because of scar tissue and limited rehab which is causing pretty bad shin splints, and stopping me from running as much as I would like. This probably results in reduced stats overall, but I can deal with that.

My contribution in terms of goals, assists and d's is alright. 13th out of 44 players. My contribution in terms of errors is terrible, 4th most errors per point played. That puts me below average in overall terms, 25th.

I've noticed that I play quite well at the start of the game, conservative but safe, and still managing to throw and catch some goals. Towards the middle of the game I lose my mind and have a lot of throwaways. At the end, I seem to reel it back in and finish things off pretty well.

Tonight, I'll attempt to have a no turnover game, consistent throughout and I'll see how that works for me.

Friday, November 28, 2008

There is no endzone

I'm sure everyone's done it. There's someone in the endzone and they are all you can see. You put up a risky pass and cause a turnover. There is no way you would have thrown that pass if the target hadn't been in the endzone, but it's just so enticing.

My team last mixed season suffered from this quite a bit, and I'm pretty sure I was one of the culprits. Why is a pass that scores so much more attractive than one that doesn't? Essentially, they are exactly the same action. I would love to see a turnover graph, where the position of each turnover is mapped out onto a field. I think there would be a massive collection near the endzones.

Imagine ultimate without an endzone. I think play would progress so much more easily. I have an idea for a practice game where we play on a field without endzones. You simply work the disc up the field and the winner is called at timecap as the team that's on their side of the start point.

I am, of course, discrediting the effects that an endzone has on defence, but I still think it would be a good exercise in focusing on disc movement without trying to score. Probably wouldn't be bad for fitness either with no breaks between points or for half.

Just need to find a field long enough...

Richie: Do not try and throw into the endzone. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Richie: There is no endzone.
Neo: There is no endzone?
Richie: Then you'll see, that it is not endzone that scores, it is only yourself.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Last night we played a derby semi final, with both of the mixed teams from my club clashing in an epic battle of missing players. At least four people were missing from the two teams, which actually evened them up a little I think and a good game was had.

The team did really well. One of our girls was sick and really shouldn't have been playing. As a result, she took a couple of points off which left us playing with only two girls on the field and therefore down to six. As a result, we pretty much had to play a zone.

The zone was really good. We've been developing a new zone which we've dubbed Diamond Power which tries to minimize the amount of running the cup has to do while stopping the quick forward movement through the middle and it's working really well at times, and not so well at others. We adjusted it several times during the game and tried some different things which was good for the team.

Offensively the team needs to stop looking to score. Sounds a bit weird to say, but when we get close to the endzone, we look to score too hard instead of moving the disc around and creating space. Everyone wants to throw the assist and it ends up with a bad throw after holding onto the disc for too long. It's something I need to work on as well.

Personally I was happy that some of the throws I've been working on worked out well in a game situation. I didn't have many throwaways and I had quite a few nice puts which worked out. On this team I'm one of the stronger players, so I feel like it's my responsibility to make good plays. In actuality, what I should be doing is working with the team so that the team makes good plays.

Defensively I was a little hampered by my ankle. It's fine stability wise, but I've lost explosiveness from it which slowed me down on D. I wasn't going to run much at all, try and make myself a wing but I ended up running in the cup most of the night. I got a bit tired as I haven't run for 3 weeks, but generally I did pretty well. Still managed a few intercepts. The ankle feels great today. I think I broke up some scar tissue and it feels less stiff.

One more game of this league and then it's summer hat league and Wednesday night beach pickup. I can't wait to play beach again.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thoughts on the game

Interesting game last night. We were sitting on 8th in the ladder playing the team ranked 2nd, in the wind and with only 2 girls on the field giving us only 6 and I wasn't playing again. 7 points later and the score was 7 - 0, us. It was really good to watch. It seemed like almost every turn was converted into a point. Ended up taking half 8-1.

In the second half the wind picked up a bit and we were struggling to move the disc up wind. The wind was a bit crossfield as well and we kept getting trapped on the line with dangerous outside in throws which our handlers were struggling with. I suggested we only attack from the other side of the field and that our handler priority be to swing to that side before looking up the line and that worked quite well.

The other thing we did was the huck and set. There are a lot of turnovers in this league, so it's a valid strategy especially in the wind. We would send a couple deep just in case and put it. There were a couple of times where this didn't work very well. The first time there was a contest on the receiving end of the huck, right on the endzone line which resulted in a contested foul call and the disc went back to the thrower. The second attempt at the huck made far less ground because the defense was more aware. Made me think that had the foul not been called, we could have got down and set up the defense, got the turn and scored. Moral of the story, calling a foul isn't always a good plan, even if you were fouled.

Second problem with the huck and set is an aware defence. A couple of times there was an interception of the huck and the opposition then advanced the disc up the field before the defence could set. Would have been a better option to throw the disc out of the field so that the defence can could up.

Not sure what the final score was, but it was a good game to watch. Hopefully I'll be back out there next week.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mixed Nats... A Different View

It's taken a while to write about mixed nats because right after I got back, I came down with a virus and slept for 60 hours in 3 days. It was kind of a good thing, because it kept me off my ankle for a while which is still recovering from a deltoid sprain less than a week before the tournament.

The injury was a pretty serious one, and the recommendation from pretty much everyone was don't play. My podiatrist was nice though, he said he could strap it and play on painkillers, but it probably wasn't a good idea. I decided before I left I definitely wasn't playing Saturday, and I'd see how I went for Sunday/Monday.

This changed my view of Mixed Nats. Normally I'm a receiver and rely on speed to get the disc and make some cuts. With a dodgy ankle, my greatest strength was going to be taken away from me and I was going to have to play as a handler. On the plus side, I had a day of watching the team to figure out how I could fit in, and attempt to contribute from the sidelines instead of the field.

I learnt two things pretty quickly. First, ultimate is frustrating from the sideline and second, games are really really long!

I think I was able to help out the team with little observations about the game in between points. One thing I noticed which I hadn't before was stack creep. While the stack initially set up in a nice spot, people returning to the stack always seem to return a little bit more on the open side than they started. During a long point, the stack would creep ever closer to the open sideline which crowded the lane. I even saw people who were looking to cut shuffling forwards and moving the stack with them. I think a simple solution to this is to get players to return to the stack on the break side of whomever is already in the stack. Hopefully that will arrest the stack creep.

I was playing with Flycatchers and the strength of the team was in the athleticism of the girls. Not many had handler disc skills, but their running and cutting kept the team alive, especially against zone. As soon as we were able to get a pass through the zone, there would be a series of 2 and 3 metre passes in rapid succession which advanced the disc through the middle of the field before the defence could set up. Even those girls with poor throws made very few turnovers because they didn't have a mark on them and their target was nice and close. It was pretty to watch.

I played the second and third games on Sunday and the games on Monday. Due to the fact that I couldn't run much I played all O points except the last one on Monday and mainly the downwind O points so that if there was a turn it would be less likely for a huck to go sailing over my head for a score. Not that that stopped Ant Dowle. I started out as the axis/swing handler and I think I did a pretty good job, but I switched to the strike handler and made some really good yard gaining throws for the team. On Monday my confidence grew a bit too much and I started trying throws that were less sure and had some turnovers, but overall I show myself that when I focus properly, I can be a decent handler.

I should say a bit about the draw. We were seeded 20th. We won one game in our pool which put us second on goal difference and guaranteed us Top 16, so we'd already beaten our seed. We lost all three games on Sunday which didn't seem to make any difference. On Monday morning, we had a forfeit which put us into the 9 - 12 playoff group. We lost the last two games and finished 12th. There are apparently 12 teams worse than us, even though we only beat one of them. We spent the whole tournament playing in pools which were a bit too high for us which was good experience, but a bit demoralizing as well.