Tuesday, June 18, 2013
As many of my Whitecaps teammates can attest, I’ve been in a continuing love-hate relationship with the Innova Pulsar. For starters, I was definitely intrigued that the MLU was using a different Frisbee. At first touch, I was pleasantly surprised by the increased lift and smooth release of the disc. It was new and different, which was exciting -- like throwing a brand new disc golf for the very first time. This feeling lasted for maybe two weeks, before I had accrued enough touches to realize, that this Pulsar was very different than the Ultrastar. During the early practices and scrimmages, multitudes of throws careened out-of-bounds, missing their targets by 30 yards. During one particularly windy deep drill, there were at least 10 straight throws that floated, turned and veered away from their target.
My suspicion grew.
But after several weeks, the throws began to straighten out and play appeared almost normal again. Initially, I was intrigued at the prospect of being able to throw the Pulsar farther than the Ultrastar – something that appealed to me greatly. For another several weeks, I was whole-heartedly convinced that the Pulsar was a superior Frisbee – a big boy disc that held its edge and was destined for max distance.
However, it didn’t take long for me to realize that this was a foolish conclusion. Thus, our relationship flipped-flopped and flipped again. I had to re-crunch the numbers. It wasn’t until I was able to get onto the turf with a bag of Ultrastars and my 2-3 Pulsars that I came to several horrifying realizations. For most throws, ranging from 5-15 yards, the difference in flight is barely noticeable. Once the range hits 20-40 yards, there is a technique change, but nothing revolutionary, as long as there is enough spin. However, anything over 40 yards is completely reverse – and this is my biggest gripe.
However, I make my money on big throws – rocket launcher with a sniper scope. I can huck it 80 yards on the money, either way, boomheadshot. The key to my success is having the biggest throws any way – upwind, downwind, crosswind, no wind. Despite almost any conditions, I had the biggest throws on the field – especially upwind. And here is the biggest difference and my pet peeve: The Innova Pulsar was designed to max its distance when thrown like a disc golf. Anhyzer edge, laser straight, S curving and tailing left on the backhand. For going downwind, great – it goes 100 yards and floats forever!! But now try throwing the Pulsar upwind. Go ahead – straight upwind. And… Oh, it only goes like 60 yards before it blades and dies. That is my issue. When throwing against the wind, the OI (anhyzer) edge is naturally pushed down – and therein lies the problem. The Pulsar was designed to max out with the OI edge, which coincidentally doesn’t happen when going straight upwind. The difference for the Ultrastar is the versatility and ability to turn/aim/airbounce the disc – moving it around targets more effectively and the ability to control the flight plan all the way through the S curve. When throwing upwind with the Ultrastar, the edge has to be severely IO (hyzer), which is the way to max the distance for an Ultrastar regardless.
But the biggest travesty thus far, is changing the Frisbee. Good intentions aside, this new disc will undoubtedly affect the level of play. It’s no wonder the Innova flies like a golf disc; Innova is a leader in disc golf discs. The rim is huge, bulky, and abrupt in comparison to the Ultrastar rim. But the biggest difference is that the Pulsar holds its edge, despite the spin on the disc, making IO throws stay IO. Even a flat IO will fade away, making the majority of huck drills unmanageable as disc after disc strays out of bounds. At first, due to the Pulsar's ability to hold its edge, I thought it could be thrown harder and farther. That was foolish optimism. There is no S curve. Throwing IO with the intention of turning the edge over isn’t an option. With an Ultrastar, ripping the hyzer and playing out the S curve makes for the biggest throws. But with this Innova, the only option is anhyzer.
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
|Never with head in sand|
If you belong to the tiny subset of humans that play competitive Ultimate you've heard of the former and if you belong to a small subset of that subset, players from Wisconsin, you've heard of the latter. There's a reason for that, and for all the on-field heroics both were, in their time, famous for, you'd be hard-pressed to find mention of some specific play. Talk to people who knew them, and you're a dozen stories deep before some play either made on the field comes up. They're known now as ambassadors, as people, and are remembered not for their plays but for the way they carried themselves and they way they treated others. These are people now remembered by those who never met them, because the ripples of effect they had on so many created a wake of influence behind them.
This year the Hodag program is inaugurating the Kevin Crowley Spirit Award, our in-house version of the Callahan, to be voted on by the outbound seniors to give to a returner; the one who carries the fire of the team within them, who can not only make plays but lead others to elevate along with him; it's the person you entrust with the future of the program. This being Hart's last year, it comes too late. And, "the Callahan trophy is presented to the man and woman who combine superior athleticism with outstanding sportsmanship, leadership and dedication to the sport of ultimate. In the eyes of his or her peers, the Callahan winner is the personification of the ideal ultimate player." Both awards ask their recipients to live up to incredibly lofty standards, and in order for them to mean anything, to act as a relic for the people they're named after, we must uphold those standards as voters.
That's why I want to tell you about Hart, who's so unassuming that you might walk by him tomorrow on your way to work or class and not even know, not have any idea how he lives his life.
|roostering at his 1st PDs|
I guess that's because aside from incredible talent and panther instincts, he also has humility, which day in and day out seems to be the most difficult thing to cultivate and nourish in ourselves. And he's that rare person who figured out how to interweave humility and leadership into the same concept. Hart has been an exemplary teammate and friend to all the Hodags in his time here, leading by words and example. There are plays his teammates make that can be attributed to 9 months of being challenged by Hart in practice, always encouraging his match-up, and always winning it.
And there's another rare gift he shares with Crowley and Callahan, simple but elusive to so many: consistency. If you know Hart you know Hart. He's as respectful to people on the field as he is off of it, calls games the same from beginning to end, will give you props for making a play on him when you best him, and retain your respect the overwhelming majority of the times that you don't.
I love Hart and I'm thankful we had the opportunity to work together like this. He's a brother that I've adopted with a spirit I hope my son will have. When I think of Henry and Kevin and the legacy they left for us, which we nurture and grow every year by awarding an honor in their name, no more fitting a person than Hart comes to mind. It's not so much that his skies and layouts and hammers and catch Ds will fade with time, only that the shine of contributions to us as people will blind us to them.
Hart For Callahan 2013
|"Click on me to see what i do on the regular," Hart said never.|
Monday, April 29, 2013
If you are really interesting in "becoming a more complete ultimate player," then get better at handler defense. That is where you are lacking, Muffin, and that's what the team needs from you this year.
I'm disappointed that my defense was not able to dictate today and bring a higher level of energy, feeling, aggression, intensity.. flat out enthusiasm, be that my body language or team talk.
I can see the plays I missed today, the ones I want back. Two possible bid opportunities, and I was not able to pull the trigger. I put myself in position to make a play, anticipated the throw, wasn't in danger of being exploited, and missed the opportunity to hit the B button and get a layout D. I came off the field, clearly mad at myself for not being "ready" at the moment, and Brenden scoffs, "Man, I dream about those D's." I reflected, do I dream about those D's? Am I going to bed every night still wanting to get that D? Still motivated to make that single play which shifts the momentum of a tied game?
I need to make those plays. I want to make them. I need to see myself making those plays. Expecting that level of play. Knowing that I am going to execute next time. Not just anticipating the throw, but anticipating the layout block -- totally ready and committed to giving it a shot.
For the first time in my life, I no longer enjoy ultimate.
It's slowly evolved from being an outlet of energy into to a source of stress.
Playing on two teams has left me at times conflicted and certainly frustrated.
Is a game more important than practice? Depends on who you ask.
The AUDL kinda sucks. At first it was novel, exciting and mind-blowing. Slowly it turned frustrating, intolerable and finally indifferent. That's when I doubled-down. Half the team quit, but I invested more energy into each game. When I commit to something - I see it through. I never quit anything once I've started and now I wanted to win. I made the long road trips, sometimes with barely 13 players and played both ways in the summer heat. I'm struggling to convey how difficult each game is, but I'll leave it at this -- it was normal to leave my heart on the field. I tried to do everything, and sometimes that wasn't even enough. Not disappointment, rather resigned to our fate. Frustrated. Powerless. Pissed.
Pissed. That's the one emotion I can relate to. When I get mad and focus on a target, everything else disappears. Anger gives me the ability to focus my passion and use it to my advantage. Extra energy when I'm tired, an adrenaline kick, a bite your tongue big throw. It allows me untapped strength and certain conviction. I received a stronger dose than usual of criticism so far this season, and I'm ready to pop the lid on that can of whoop-ass. Sometimes I'm able to use that negative energy to evoke more emotion and raise my level of play. But when it passes my threshold of tolerance, it begins to weigh on me. I disconnect, get stubborn and eventually lose confidence and break down. Sink or Swim? Fight or Flight?
I'm ready to fight.
Losers stop when they get tired..winners stop when they win.
Unrelated, I believe I finally maxed out my throws. 90 yards either way, except for my hammer, which I can't figure out how to throw bigger than 55-60 yards. Show me the 80 yard hammer. I wanna add that to my bag of throws.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
|(above hands not actually Dayu's, Colin's or Hh's)|
My relationship with the Hodag captains is great, thank you (but perhaps you should also ask them!). I'll explain our dynamic as I see it. The "Or" beginning your 3rd question implies that either that question or the one prior is answered in affirmative, but not both. I guess I disagree with that premise. Aside from our captains-coach relationship, I have been teammates with Dayu and Colin Camp on Madison Club, as well as their captain on same, but we've also been friends throughout the entire experience. We share a lot of our discretionary time with each other, and we go deep; there are things we have survived or experienced together that I cannot share here. So I see our relationship as an equal partnership, and there is no way I'd be able to do my part without their contribution.3) How does your relationship with your captains work? Are you guys all equal partners? Or does your wealth of experience make it so that you have the final decision? How does this manifest itself with the team and in huddles? Who dominates the huddles at practice and at tournaments? Is it you or is the captains? How do you run your huddles at practices? At tournaments?
Along with that, our roles and responsibilities complement but are not congruent to each other. And in my role, my "wealth of experience" does make it so I "have the final decision" in matters on the field or at practice, and w/r/t behavior and expectations. But letting the story end there might leave some thinking that I'm roaming around Hodag lives vetoing and imposing my will, which I do not. As I said in an earlier post, the officer corps and I are communicating all the time (unlimited texts & minutes), and I push us in the direction we all want to go. But having the final say in some things is helpful and necessary; there are times when decisions need to be made quickly; also everyone on the same page doing something is often more successful than everyone on their own page doing what they think is right. I'll stick my neck out and say that I have the trust of the captains, trust that I will make decisions with the team's best interest in mind, that those decisions are informed by sound strategy, and that I listen to what they tell me and take them into account.
In teaching high schoolers, captaining adults, or coaching college guys, I've found that deciding and leading unilaterally doesn't come close to getting the same mileage that collaborative work, focused on shared goals, does - Aesop's fable of the Sun and the Wind competing for a man's coat was big for me as a lil'un. I have mentioned that I do not have a vote in picking the team, only the 5 officers do. I attend the cuts and ask questions they should be asking, give my own input on players, and make sure we're balancing present and future. Because of my feedback during the process I've never looked at our final roster and wished it were different; only twice have I adamantly lobbied for a player, making clear I was convinced he should be on the team. In both cases I think time has vindicated my advocacy.
I do most of the talking in huddles, and when presenting drills- a little too much of it, I feel. At practice, I introduce drills and establish the focus of each while the vets demo, and once we're going veterans keep the chatter up and give feedback - this constant learning from each other is a crucial part of our long-term success. Post-practice huddles and most huddles at tournaments it's my voice coming from within. To some extent this is helpful to us; I know as captain of Club firsthand how distracting from your own play it can be to have to be thinking of salient points for the team to focus on. One of the nice things about having a coach is that your captains get to just play. But I also see our team as a long class in citizenry for the outside world. Hodags put in such a tremendous personal investment, working toward long-term goals that are a year, or two, or five long. They should leave the team with the confidence earned from constantly pushing yourself outside your comfort zone, and using those challenges for personal growth. Cultivating this side of my players is also a responsibility of mine, and I need to give the captains more of a voice, so that they graduate as Hodags and Badgers, proud and full-throated, ready to lead.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Continuing to respond to Anon's questions...
2) Technical question. How do you call lines? I'm not asking about your line calling strategy, but what method you use to do it. I've watched McCarthy coach Ironside and it seems like he just uses a small strip of paper with peoples names. From what I've seen of you coaching, it seems like you prefer this method as well. Why do you use this way instead of something like a clipboard that allows you to keep track of points played and other stats? Do you have someone else keeping track of things like that? Any other methods that you've tried?Hodag Kyle Geppert's father designed a statistics app specific for Ultimate for iphones and ipads, and we use it to keep track of playing time and general stats. Players take turns being responsible for a point's stats, and they rotate turns per game. I have a spreadsheet I made specific to my needs, and the top portion has the names of all the players healthy at the tournament. They are organized by handlers and cutters, by O-line and D-Line, and players from each line that can fill in anytime on the opposite side of the disc. I do this using a table with cells that are shaded different gradients to designate each of these options. Aside from this, in meetings with the officers we design lines of players that have good chemistry for specific situations, such as upwind, must-break, must-hold, etc. I use this coach's sheet to guide my choice from point to point, and i have a rough calculation of points played that ends up reflecting the app's numbers within my margin of error.
In my years on Bravo we organized into small pods of similarly styled players that organized their own playing time in loose fashion, and we communicated often enough to know when to defer, in critical moments, to the team's studs and veterans. We've done this on the Hodags on few occasions, but usually at preseason tourneys. It generally doesn't work as well on a college team than it does on an experienced club team like Bravo; that's not because players overestimate themselves and can't share, but because it takes years of experience to get a feel for the timing of a full game experience, by which I mean how much you've played in relation to others, percentage of total points, complete performance during the game, etc. This makes it difficult to be able to self-assess mid-game and adjust your playing time accordingly. There are some college players that can do this, but it works much better on a team of veterans who have years feeling out the game's subtle texture.