Wednesday, May 23, 2007
(with your head)
Chapter One: Remember
You've all put in incredible hours and calories this entire season training. Now you must perform at the peak of your game. With such a long season, it can be difficult to do. So do this: remember back to when you started playing the sport and fell in love. If necessary find a pick-up game and tear the shit out of hapless players. Compare yourself to those that merely play recreationally to notice the incredible accomplishments you've achieved this year. You all have improved. A lot. But sometimes practice can seem like a job and everyone needs to have the fresh feeling of playing disc. Isn't this sport fun as fuck? Do you all remember? Think back to when you didn't know what the fuck a stack was and this game was sunny days after classes in the mud with your friends.
Chapter Two: Prepare
The Hodags have the physical talent and skills to win this year's national championship. But in the heat of a game at nationals, it can be hard to recall strategy, positioning, etc. This week should be head week for all of you. While you sleep, dream of being down by two and catching back-to-back-to-back callahans for the winner. Dream of skying someone a foot taller than you with your nuts over his eyebrow, or laying out past their best player. However, when you're awake and thinking disc, visualize reality. You busting out of the throwing lanes. You turning upfield, seeing no cuts, and dumping immediately. You completing the swing and continue after catching the dump. Never having the disc past stall 7. Never looking off an open receiver. Never being too deep as a stack. Clearing hard. Imagine yourself in the positions you will be in going through the correct motions in your head.
Chapter 3: Strategery
The game-by-game strategy will be decided by your leadership depending on opponent and weather. If this does not include you don't ever think about it - just do as you are told. Even if it's a mistake, as long as everyone is on the same page it'll work out. Problems arise when 7 players on the field are implementing two different schools of thought. As an individual, your strategy consists of personal match-ups and positioning. From the sideline identify players you will likely guard and see what their tendencies are. For the top 2-3 defenders, this will be hard to stomach but believe me: YOUR JOB IS NOT TO GET D'S. It is likely you will be guarding the best college players in the nation and it's fucking hard to generate turns on them. You will still get blocks but you must focus on containing them to doing what YOU want them to do, and above all forcing their superstars to get the other 4 chump players on the field involved as much as possible. For defenders 4-7, all you dudes who may only be getting 2-10 points per game, YOU are the most important players on the team. You will be guarding those chumps that don't want to be involved in the offense, and it is there where you must show your depth and conditioning and squeeze. Hard marks and constant pressure on their weak players will win you a championship. In '03, unknowns JoeyD and Gigo blew up for +15 in the semis and finals while Grant, myself, Carrington, and the other studs just kinda held things down. Who's the mid-level hodag this year that's going to be next year's go-to stud based off the nationals launchpad?
Chapter 4: Intangibles
You want to win a championship. You know there are some teams out there you'll have to beat to do it. Fine. But it doesn't matter who the fuck they are, got it? If it turns out you're playing Brown in pre-quarters, or Colorado in quarters, or you run into a good team early - DON'T FUCKING PANIC! Never base the hopes of your success on when you might play a team, and don't be caught off-guard if you're playing someone sooner (or later) than you expected. This rule is a *fucking team killer* if not followed. #2Colorado '02 lost to CUT in pool play and realized they'd have to play Stanford in semis. What happened? They lost to UNC-W in prequarters. Wisconsin '03 was playing 10-seed and small-rotation Colorado in semis.
What happened? Colorado took half and almost beat us because we expected them to fade. Don't worry about the "who" or the "when", upsets and seeding are out of your control and the only focus should be playing as efficient and aggressive as possible and beating every team you encounter, regardless of who they are and what round it is.
Chapter 5: Sidelines
Sidelines. If there's a hodag with a mouth off the field and he's not shouting encouragement and awareness to a Hodag with legs on the field - if this is you - you are an idiot. Sidelines win games, help the defense know what's happening, and can tangibly account for several blocks per game. It's easy. Do it. If you don't play too much, be a stud on the sides and help your family. DO IT.
Chapter 6: Conserve
When playing against weak opponents and you are comfortably leading, you may conserve energy. This is different from slacking off. Conservation requires quick points with clean offense and intense defense. This means you can stop worrying about who's up two fields over or what team just reamed the top seed or whatever. Just relax, play loose, and run through your points like drills with complete catches and solid fundamentals. This will soften your mind a little and allow you to rest mentally before you have to refocus on the next game.
Chapter 7: Nutrition
Half a nalgene of water per game. Gulps every time you come to the sideline. Salt and potassium tablets every day. The equivalent of one packet of GU per game. Gatorade. Eat after every game, drink always, and listen to your body. Start eating well now, like NOW, so your body is tuned and ready for three grueling days of ultimate.
Chapter 8: Enjoy
Follow these rules, play your hardest, and enjoy the weight of the championship medal around your neck. Good luck to all of you this weekend, and know that you will all hear me from the sidelines. I want you to win a national championship more than you do.