Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Deja Vu

"You've been here before."

It’s a little something I say to myself from time to time on the ultimate field, when adrenaline pulsates the veins in my temple, my legs and lungs burn hot, and I feel my field of vision narrowing. It’s those moments when stress and stakes are highest that I need to remind myself of my ability to perform the task at hand and, more importantly, recall each step required using a quiet analytical mind. That mantra, “you’ve been here before,” allows me to find that quiet space and remove myself from the emotion of the moment while remembering the fundamentals.

These little pauses, the two second study sessions, serve me best when I’m with a disc. In positions when I have the disc on the sideline with a four-man cup trapping, I know when the disc gets tapped in there’s going to be a burst of noise and movement, a hundred distractions all pushing themselves over for my attention. Going over personal and team strategy just before making my decision allows me to deal with only the distractions that impede my throw. Setting up on defense and being isolated in the middle of the endzone, I know that when the disc gets tapped in if I’m going into it without a plan, I’ll get easily beat by just reacting instead of anticipating. The moments on the line before pulling or receiving are also among my favorite times to recite this and start visualizing my plan.

Minor conscious adjustments in my positioning and technique just before the disc gets tapped in greatly increase my success rate in completing the throw or taking away and shutting down the cutter’s first few moves. In short, repeating to myself – You’ve been here before – is my own little mnemonic device that allows me to recall quickly and efficiently the plans and strategies I’ve learned for problem-solving on the field. This in turn has helped me get out of sticky situations and allowed me a modest level of success at this playing level.

“But what if I haven’t been here before?”

Here are a few points I think about in those tight must-have situations.

When I’m about to tap the disc in while marking I…

  • remember team marking strategy. Is the dump defender taking away up the line? Am I shading upfield or downfield?
  • think about what this teams tends to throw. Am I taking away the inside-out or the around break to start?
  • See if he’s a lefty. The type of throw (forehand v. backhand) they’re likely to throw can affect the mark positioning as much as the force can, so if it’s force flick and I’m on a fellow lefty, I cannot mark him the same as I’ve been marking others. His bigger threats will release from different points.

When I’m about to check the disc in trapped on the sideline I…

  • identify what will probably be my two most likely targets.
  • think of the marker and team. Is he consistently stalling too quickly? Are they always double-teaming? Does he foul late in the count? Is he a flailer, or someone with a plan and control of their bodies?
  • square my shoulders to the marker and have him engage me at a different angle than he was anticipating.
  • Remind myself to commit to the dump reset the moment it’s obvious there’s nothing open upfield, and certainly no later than stall 5.

When the cutter I am defending and I are isolated in the endzone, I…

  • position my body so that their first option is blocked by my body and they must run through me to get there.
  • make sure I’m close enough to dissuade throwing an inside-out break up the gut.
  • focus on not getting caught chasing the cutter to the open side, but to use my body to constantly force him break-mark.
  • check to see if Whit’s marking. If he is, then the break side is closed.
(photo taken by Rick Hodges)


ellsworthless said...

This is a really good post. Actually, I really like all of your game time posts. I would like to add some of these to my laundry list of game time thoughts. The one I will be happy to take away with me would be:

"square my shoulders to the marker and have him engage me at a different angle than he was anticipating."

I chose this one for the simple reason that I need work behind a mark with the disc.

Anonymous said...

btw - according to the 11th edition the marker in the above pic is fouling the thrower