So here's the six posts I wrote on frisbee smooshed into a terribly long (16,000 words) nightmare of self indulgent faf and bollocks.
So Post one... Intensity
Having (re)discovered a delight in lengthy pontifications about frisbee (as those on ultitalk may have noticed) I've been thinking about how best to share this with (or inflict this on) you all. I've been reading ultitalk and a few blogs recently (OShep, Simmo and Tigsie/Semfel's mainly) and thinking "I have opinions, I could do that...", which while being true (I do in fact have opinions, often shared unwillingly and I can write... not necessarily well... but I can get words onto a page with ease) doesn't necessarily mean that the world is ready for yet another frisbee blog (the Frisbee Pontification show featuring the Tanty experience?) and I doubt I have the technical experience to put a decent page together, nor the frisbee abilities to be "listened" too (despite playing since I was 19, thus making 5.5 years playing experience)...
But neither of those factors can prevent me writing lots of words about stuff that doesn't matter here and inflicting them on a captive "audience (ie all of my facebook "friends")...
So here goes the first of my (probably) many long winded and fundamentally unreadable, opinionated and somewhat meaningless posts... (Unless you want to count that rant about spirit on ultitalk, which makes this number 2 or 3)
"I misplaced my intensity, can i borrow some of yours?"
I'm going to go out on a limb and start by assuming everyone agrees with me that there are "more intense players/teams" and "less intense players/teams" (admittedly with shades of grey... but whatever). Then on top of that there are players that are just plain angry. I don't like angry players, I don't like playing against them and i don't like playing with them... in fact I don't like being near them at all.
I suppose I should clarify what I mean when I say intense players, especially when I'm also talking about angry players. Angry players are that player that hates the player they're marking or the team they're playing (we all know one) or in the really extreme examples hate a player on their team (this is where I really take issues). They have no tolerance of the focus of their hatred (it's almost like they take their very existence playing the game as some form of personal affront) and everything done is seen a a direct attack upon the angry player. In the most extreme examples I've seen the hatred goes to the point where it actually affects their game negatively...
In years gone by I was marking player A at the back of an end zone stack, I was obviously slower than player A (as is the norm for me) and thinking to myself about how on my toes I have to be to even have a chance to stop the (potential) score. Player A however had a mild dislike for Player B (on their team) and rather than cut/burn me to the open OR break side they stood rooted to the spot getting angry at Player B... Thus making them relatively easy to defend (even I can defend someone stationary).
Being angry (especially at your own team) can also affect how others play, and to me this is unacceptable. If you want to ruin your own game and not play to your potential fine (if you're on the other team... if you're on my team you have to get over it and play extra hard to carry my fat ass) but the anger/hatred can affect other people in their confidence/willingness to play and that's really not cool. No one fucks up on purpose... I've been playing a LONG time and I can safely say I've never seen anyone deliberately fuck up (except maybe during a "what not to do example" by Lee, but if someone is intending to screw up as an example and then screws up is that really a screw up? or would them completing the pass be a screw up?). I've fucked up many many many times on the field (and off... but this is a frisbee post not a life post) and not once was deliberate (although that rubbish throwaway at Bathurst I didn't pull out of because I didn't want to look someone off would have to be close... Anson knows the one I'm on about). Anyway, one example sticks to mind, I was "cutting" (because as we all know I don't really cut) and there was a pass down the line, Player 1 was behind me and didn't call for it, so I made a play for it (ALWAYS try for the disc, you don't feel stupider that when you let the disc go past you to be caught by someone behind you... and there's noone there). I macked the disc out and player 1 was so pissed off at me (I think if they could've killed me they would've) I don't think I went back on the field that game. Losing me from a game is probably not a big loss, but if I was someone different it has not only affected YOUR (the angry player's) game (potentially) but someone else's game too... And when was the last time you managed to take out 2 opposition players single handedly? I guess what I'm trying to say is angry is bad and no fun for anyone (assuming you don't enjoy being angry... if you do you're a mutant).
ANYWAY... that's why I think angry players suck (not to mention their negative effect on spirit... but my opinions on spirit are well documented) but intense players are a different matter.
There's a fairly wide variety of intensity levels in players, and it varies a lot more too. Some players will be fired up for one game and cruisey the next, varying on opposition, game situation (final vs league vs nationals vs hungover Sunday) and what fires up one person will not necessarily fire up another. Intensity can be a bit of a double edged sword in my humble opinion.
To use a war metaphor (if it works for football it can work for frisball) think about the Roman Legions vs the Germanic Hordes (and history graduates please don't tear my facts apart her to badly) we get an interesting parallel. The Roman Legions were a well drilled, disciplined and emotionless army and the Germanic tribes were a slightly more "emotional" (ie "intense") army, very brave and psycho on the first charge but if that didn't work that bravery very quickly turned and their greatest strength (that emotion) became their greatest weakness. Turning that into frisbee example (using what I know.. kinda) you could look at the parallel of Fakulti vs Fakulbee (or Barefoot or any other "intense" team... but Fakulbee because that's the only one silly enough to let me grace the field in their colours).
Fakulti was a fairly emotionless team (especially compared to some of the others) so they will be our hypothetical "roman legion". The enemy get psyched up and charge, hitting them hard (ie Chilly get 4-1 up on Fakulti) until the discipline of our "Fakulti Legions" comes to the fore, bearing the brunt of the attack without breaking and slowly starts to push the "Chilly Barbarians" back eventually turning their emotion (intensity) against them and winning the day (Fakulti 15/17 or something like that to Chilly 4)... Now that may not be an entirely faithful recreation of what happened in that game, but I am basing that on 2nd hand information and then editing that to back up my point (sue me)...
Fakulbee on the other hand were (in my opinion) a relatively emotional team (at least a lot of us were... easily the most emotional team I've ever played for) so for the next examples we will have the Fakulbee Hordes (there were a lot of us too) vs the HoS and Manly Legions. Fakulbee when fired up (read intense) played really well and if we could maintain that intensity for all or most of the game. In fact a lot of thought and effort went in to knowing when to and generating that intensity (Ali B's masterpiece Fakul-What! cheer positively leaps to mind). Fakulbee's "battle" with Manly was probably the most intense game I've taken part in (although i think I played 1-2 points because by that stage my knees hurt to just walk around) and the amount of emotion and intensity fakulbee threw into it was amazing (I believe a bunch of the 'card girls walked off remarking "to much testosterone") and I think that was instrumental in what got us "over the line" in that game... So here is the "Fakulbee hordes" overwhelming the discipline of the Manly Legions with our emotional charge (a fairly thinly stretched metaphor there, but this is my post). The charge of the Fakulbee hordes wasn't quite as effective against the HoS legions. We tried to get nice an fired up (fakul-what time is it!? biting our shield rims and banging out weapons on our shields etc... watching one of the HoS boys trying to set his ipod up so that he could play us wearing it... that fired some of us up) and it worked at the beginning (we WHERE up and did basically trade points to half time), At half time I remember the feeling was "we can do this..." however we just couldn't maintain that intensity and eventually ended losing fairly convincingly... A couple of quick fire scores from HoS had managed to dampen our enthusiasm and our intensity faded fairly quickly.
So clearly intensity can be a bit of a double edged sword (in my opinion) I know I play better and focus better if I've got a certain amount of intensity built up (compare the Bathurst Stampede final this year to faffing about at training). And even Fakulti was trying different techniques to generate a bit of intensity so they stopped conceding those points in the early stages of the game (while their opposition was still fired up).
But surely the opposite applies, sometimes you can be to intense (which can affect spirit I think) and sometimes that intensity can backfire and rather than thinking "we can do this" you end up thinking "we CAN'T do this" (can you you be fired down instead of up?). So you need to be careful with your intensity I think (plus if you're intense all the time on the "big" occasions you need to fire up even more and that may not be possible/as easy).
In that vein I've been attempting to find something I can do to fire myself up a bit and generate a little bit of intensity on the field (clearly yet another of my big weaknesses in my game). Music is the obvious option (a full on Ali B cheer is probably out of place at league) and yeah a handblock/layout d will fire up most people you tend to have to be fired up to a certain degree to achieve it in the first place. I've been told a nice inspirational speech by captain/coach can work, but I've only seen that work once for me (and once again may not be 100% appropriate at league). Bozz's complete faith that we could be Texas Hold'em at the Stampede this year in the semi did wonders for the team and is what probably got us through that game. I think the trick with music is finding the right song/style... For me metalcore/hardcore seems to work the best (Razor Sex by Strung Out, The Dead Walk generally and The Girls don't like us because we don't play football by The Disables... my favorite frisbee song get a lot of play time) but I'm sure that's not everyone's cup of tea. I have heard unconfirmed reports of Ian Roxy locking himself in the car with Eye of the Tiger playing before a tournament but I doubt hip hop/rnb will ever work (listening to a big black guy singing about making love to me won't fire me up to play frisbee... yet another reason why rap/rnb/hip hop fails at everything). Anyone else got any suggestions/ideas?
So that's a lot of words written on intensity (without much of a point). If you have any comments reply, add a comment or whatever. If you have any complaints or take offence at my words, tell me to and that will give me a chance to properly offend you personally with my reply...
For those of you wondering why I tagged you, it's not a personal comment on your intensity levels merely just that you play frisbee and I thought you may be interested/have an opinion/thoughts on the whole thing. Or if you know someone else who may be interested in reading it send them the link, copy the whole thing and paste it into your own blog etc or print off and plagarise like a bitch (I'm pretty sure by posting on facebook this becomes their property and not mine anyway)
Greetings all and welcome to the second instalment of me crapping on extensively about frisbee. SPIRIT.
(for those of you on ultitalk this is just an adaption of my posts on there)
Having played for what seems like forever in ultimate circles (I just passed my 5.5 year mark) at a variety of standards (mainly low and social) I've formed my own opinion of what I consider good spirit. From nationals (recently) to NSL div 4 I've played both with and against a lot of players/teams with spirit levels ranging from exceptional (Tiger, Bozz, Beast and Simon Farrow all are on MY list of fantastically spirited players) to fairly poorly spirited (whom I will not name).
As my own inadequacies as a player prevent me from commenting on a lot of aspects of the game, but spirit is something that all players of all levels in ultimate can have an opinion of and that opinion is equally valid. I've always prided myself on "good spirit" (I still think you can count the calls I've made that have been contested using your fingers) and I've played on (and even captained) a few teams that have won spirit at various leagues/tournaments and I always feel slightly disappointed when my team is not around the top in spirit. I was so proud of a team I captained when that team came 2nd or 3rd in spirit DESPITE forfeiting a game due to uni games and receiving no spirit score for that round... and we won the league too.
In all this time one thing is very clear to me, everyone has a different idea of what is good and what is bad spirit. Now taking Bozz's example [from ultitalk] (because I think Bozz and I share a similar outlook on most aspects of the game... except maybe what to do when someone shouts "duck") and he and I go about giving spirit in a very different way. I've always taken a spirit score of 7 as generally a "baseline" and then changed that based on how much I enjoyed the game. If I thought they were a nice team and enjoyed playing them they get an 8... Really nice and they'll get a 9 and I always saved 10/10 for exceptionally well spirited teams, and I think i've given maybe 2 or 3 of those over the years. Poorly spirited teams, (which in my opinion is as much how you act on the field as the calls you make) will get a 5 or 6 and I've only ever given lower than that once. I find my personal enjoyment of the game a decent indicator of spirit, I don't mind calls being made if they're valid, I don't even mind being absolutely chumped (which happens a lot), I think people calling their own fouls (on themselves) is a fantastic thing that we alone at frisbee get, I love it when players do something spectacular (both on my team of the opposition) and always try to tell them just how awesome I think that was and I will fall deeply in love with anyone who tells me I did something well. I don't enjoy teams playing with no respect for their opposition (be they on my team or the other), I don't like it when teams start "using" the rules to gain an advantage and I cannot stand "foul/pick/strip" being answered with "You CANNOT be f*cking serious" or similar reply... If they don't agree you say "contested" not "bullsh*t!". If you disagree with a call, contest it. I don't make a call if I don't think it's valid (and like to think that's the same for everyone) and no amount of bad language or volume will make me change it, all it does is decrease my (and I'm guessing others) enjoyment of the game.
Anyway that all aside, there's a fairly long list of things I consider poor spirit. Some like "dodgy" calls and spiking the disc in front of the defender are fairly obvious and we all agree on. But I've played against league teams that have forced teams to play savage or down players because they won't allow pick ups (I've never said no to a pick up in my life... although I did ask a div 1 player to "go easy" on my div 3 team once), I've been made to play less than savage because the other team see it to their advantage to force us to play a gender split we couldn't match... Now I know everyone likes to win, but forcing a team to forfeit or being dicks about the rules in a sport like ultimate in what is essentially the lower division of a social league seems to be poor spirit to me. We're all there to play first and win second in my mind. One particular incident springs to mind... a league team I was on was forced to forfeit (because the other team wouldn't allow us any pick ups and it was uni games week) and when this happened and my team decided to go home rather than hang out in the cold we where told that it was "poor spirit" because our opposition wanted to play a pick up game with us and our pick ups that they had earlier disallowed from playing, now I don't blame any of my players for wanting to go home but things like that have contributed to a certain amount of "bad blood" between our two teams (at least from my side)... However most of these "incidents" over the years are restricted to a few teams that I've regularly played against. On the whole I've found most people are fairly well spirited with just a few bad apples scattered around. And it's when those bad apples either don't have someone to reign them in or all end up on one team do you suddenly end up with an opposition that you don't actually enjoy playing.
[inserted here is my “counter” to being told on ultitalk that us going home and not playing was poor spirit]
I agree it wasn't particularly spirited to forfeit and go home of us, and I'm sure we don't want this thread to degenerate into everyone (ie me) attempting to defend every single thing mentioned here. Admittedly there was a little bit of bad blood (perhaps "competitive desire" would be more appropriate) but I feel that in the circumstances it was poor spirit to enforce the forfeit too. I'm not sure how things work in other leagues but in div 2/3 NSL there is a fairly common situation (at least once a season/twice a year) where the various uni based teams have there numbers slashed because most of the squad has gone off to play uni games. People not showing without a decent reason doesn't show much respect for their opposition (or indeed their own teammates) but not turning up because of something like uni games doesn't really strike me as poorly spirited (a pain in the ass for those there sure... but not bad spirit). From my recollection we had 3 players on the roster available and had talked 3 pick ups into showing up (making us still a player down), Our opposition (all 12-14 of them) whom were just below us on the table (around that time we were consistently around the top for a few seasons) elected to deny our pick ups and enforce a forfeit as that was to their best advantage on the table (and incidentally hurt our spirit score too). After we forfeited they elected to play a pick up game by dividing up their team and grabbing a couple of hangers on to which they invited us to play, which we declined. So we didn't really stop them from playing, as they had enough players to play an "internal" game. Given the circumstances I think enforcing a forfeit was a little unspirited, as it was more than likely had we played they would've won anyway... Even had they given us the option of playing a "real" game with us getting the losing score and them getting the winning score I would've accepted that. Losing a game isn't as bad as forfeiting a game on the table... But their captain was intent on gaining "maximum advantage" out of the situation (or so it seemed to me)... and I just don't like playing with/against people like that...
It is similar (in a broad sweeping sense) to something that happened at NSW Regionals this year. Sunday morning, Fakulbee is at the fields shite and briney an hour before first pull (as always) warming up, throwing, stretching, plotting and generally being very serious about things. Time ticks by, and a (singular) member of our opposition (Ibeam) shows up... more time ticks by and noone else shows ("where's the rest of your team?" "I dunno")... Fakulbee warm up some more, do some drills, throw, change into dark shirts... more time ticks by until the game is due to start (by this time I'm so warmed up that it would be best to describe myself as "pooped") and there is no real sign of Ibeam… then over the hill Ibeam come running ("quick boys 7 on the line") to catch the pull to one of my all time favorite time out calls "Ibeam put your cleats on and have a throw!". Now that was a genuine mistake/confusion by someone (I don't know who and it doesn't affect the story to my mind) because to me that's not poor spirit. Had they not realised for a little bit longer they would've been in a position to lose points and possibly even have to forfeit and forcing them to do that wouldn't have sat well with me spirit wise. Even though the late-ness did work against us (we'd warmed and psyched up for so long we had begun to lose energy/intensity in my opinion). However had it been a deliberate move by Ibeam to be late I feel that would've been poor spirit... If that makes sense (it does to me). I guess what I'm attempting to say is the intention of player/teams action has more of an affect on the spirit score I assign (even if it's just in my mind) to them than the actual action itself. I've been accidentally fouled many times (as has everyone who's played the game) and to me that's not poor spirit (once at league I tried contesting a disc with Matt Dowle and I'm pretty sure I hit the ground upside down and shoulders first... but to my mind that was just incidental contact and not even a foul... plus I didn't really have a chance on the disc in hindsight). I do remember a player from interstate whom I played against who was obviously an AFL trained player and I was on the receiving end of a few shoulder bumps just while waiting in the stack, and to me that is poor spirit because those contacts (no matter how minor) were deliberate.
Having re-read that post I'm sounding a bit like I'm up on a high horse looking down on everyone as I’m the perfectly spirited player... I have no doubt there will be a large number of conflicting views about my own actions and there are a few incidents I'm definitely not proud of (a teammate's actions at a nsl final was a definite "spirit low" for me) and the less said about my own behaviour at mixed regionals the better (apologies to all those on my team who had to put up with me... you know why).
Of course this is all based around my fairly extensive beginner/social league experience and things are very different at a higher level I've noticed... I've found at lower levels I let a lot more "calls" go by, especially when playing against less experienced players in favour of explaining what happened to them afterward... But this lead to an interesting call made at league last night [a few weeks ago now] (and possibly one of the only unique/worthwhile point of this post). Player A (on my team) had the disc and threw to player B (on my team), Player 1 (on the opposition) bumped player B in the air and player B dropped the disc. Player 1 immediately (in what I see as great spirit) asked "did I foul you?" to which player B replied "Nah, there wasn't much in it, turnover and play on"... What lovely spirit I hear you all chorus until I add the appendix discussion between myself and players 1 and B. I said "it would've been close" to which player B replied "if it was nationals I would've called it" and player 1 (also a nats player) said "yeah at nationals that was a foul"... Does this mean we're playing by a different set of rules at a higher level (at least in our mind with what we can call) or just with a different level of spirit?
Coming around to a second main point of thought now, if intention is the key to spirit (which in my mind it is) it's the opposing team captain (and leadership group) that gives the team its spirit "vibe". It's those players who not only teach the newer/inexperienced players the rules and skills, but it's the intention and actions that show those player what is and isn't acceptable spirit wise. I learnt my basic skills, tactics and rules at Macquarie under the "Lee Coady Experience" and I'm fairly certain that a lot of aspects of what I do/don't consider spirited comes from watching/learning from the clubs experienced players (whom I think were all well spirited). I think if I was taught arguing the call, watching people’s feet to call a travel rather than stall counting and deliberate contact etc was acceptable if you can get away with it I'd be doing that now (still) and I'd have a very different view of what is or isn't acceptable.
One thing I do remember being somewhat confusing (and hopefully helps show my point) was during me "formative" years we (Macquarie) played a lot of zone (we still do) and one we used a lot against particular teams was assassination zone (I think double assassination line trap zone was about as ridiculous a zone as I've ever played, but it worked) and one of our experienced players really hated playing it as she felt it was in "poor spirit". She argued that it was basically saying "everyone on your team is crap but one person, and if we take them out you can't do anything", which is fairly poorly spirited (that's not showing much respect to the opposition team if you see it that way), but the rest of our leadership circle felt it was more saying "that person is really really good, lets try and minimise their effect" (which is kind of showing "healthy respect" for the individual if you see it that way). I'm still not sure which side of the fence I sit on there and I still hesitate to call (or even play) assassination zone because of those reasons (I always have to think "am I disrespecting the other team or respecting the player?"). Once again I've fallen back to action vs intention I guess. Discrespect is a similar (albeit slightly less effective and more humorous) example. Putting discrespect D on when you're 15-0 up stinks of poor spirit to me (as the play suggests you think the other team couldn't even score without a mark on them, hence the play’s name), putting it on when you 0-15 down doesn't make me think poor spirit, it just makes me think you must be buggered. And that leads on to my next point...
"Less experienced" teams. Teams lower on the table seem to get higher total spirit scores (normally). I'm sure everyone has noticed this, we're all surprised/delighted when a winning team also wins spirit. Is this because we expect "winning" teams to have played with less spirit? Or just because if you're winning people are more compelled to think you're a dick? Or is because playing with less spirit helps your results on the table? Whilst playing Hills league recently I came across a difference thought, one of the teams in one of the divisions (not naming names, but anyone who knows me probably knows who I mean) has difficulties winning games and plays to my mind an excessively physical and poorly spirited game. Now my team is definitely not angels (nor are we the worst) but during a game against them (where they were getting very frustrated trying to break our zone) I was fouled and called it to which instead of the reply "contested/uncontested" I got "you're not going to call that are you? You're flogging us" and my reply "yes you fouled me and it's not allowed" didn't go down well with that player (I believe this teams rules knowledge is probably below average too). Later in the game when there was another contact (from the same player) but I didn't turn the disc I got the heckle (in a fairly accusing tone) from him while on the mark "so was that a foul too?"/ Should we "go easy" on a team infringing the rules if they're less experienced or able? I don't believe you should as this would just teach bad habits, but even I have the impression that "enforcing" the rules when you're up substantially could possible be called poor spirit (at least by some). But speculating on all of that could take everyone months so i won't expand on it anymore beyond saying, Bozz's "Italian stack" play is/was a masterstroke, but I think if a team that was higher on the table or up by a large margin tried it on me I would probably see it as "poor spirit" (sorry Bozz)... But once again I think I've circled around to intention vs action point from earlier.
And finally… Heckling. I think heckling being in poor spirit is different depending on who the heckler/hecklee are and their relationship. I've been playing with Axe for a number of years now, and I give him a lot of shit (relative to the amount of total shit I dish out he gets a very large % of it) and I don't think that's in poor spirit (most of the time we're on the same team anyway). We're mates, we've been mates for years, I know he can take it (and kick my ass if he needs to) and no amount of the word "chump" will damage our friendship (hopefully) and there's a few other players I feel the same way about. They could say almost anything they wanted to me and I would take it as was intended, a good natured heckle. At this years stampede my team made the final and Axe's didn't (that is rare... generally if we are on different teams it's his team that is the "better" one... because he's a way better player than me) and every time I tuned in to what the crowd was yelling I heard him there heckling away and I have no problem with that, because we're friends. I think if it was someone I didn't know giving me that shit I'd be fairly upset by it, but with a mate you can just take it knowing it's just a demented form of love (of something like that)...
Of course the nature of the heckle is fairly important... "not a thrower" when Anson bricks the pull (AGAIN) is fine "you're shit and I hate you" to a beginner is not so fine. But again what you can get away with in good spirit relates to how well you know the player, would you ever call negative fantasy on someone you didn't know well? Or who wasn't a decent player in their own right?
But I think that all comes back to that intention/action again... If we're friends call me whatever you want (because I know there is love there), if you don't know me be nice otherwise I'll get all emo and cry (possibly, I've never been heckled by anyone who's not a friend)
So there's a lot more words without much point... I guess what I was trying to get to in this post was, my opinion of the intention of an action is what affects my perception of spirit not the action itself... And that's just down to an individual observer’s opinion, which being individual is always different and related to their experiences... particularly as you're learning (now that's either a profound point or bollocks... I'm leaning towards bollocks)...
It’s cold, wet and f*cking freezing with league called off (thank god for that… was not looking forward to running around in this weather) but as Monday night is “Frisbee night” I felt I should write a new lengthy post about something Frisbee-ish… Having covered some topics where I actually have a considered opinion I thought I should write one on something slightly less serious and thought provoking (or dependent on how you view my posts thought deadening… apparently I write with to much intensity for Hannah). Anyway, the topic for this is going to be three “shorter ones” entitled
Memories of super Frisbee team names from history…
Three different topics, Memories of when I began to play, cool Frisbee team names and *ahem* superheroesplayingfrisbee… all VERY nerdy and of very little point.
I was thinking about recently was what Frisbee was like when I started playing (in the late bronze age when we used flatten heavy discs of bronze… nearly 6 years ago now). I remember back to when I was conned into playing Frisbee, little did I know what I was getting into. I turned up to a Wednesday lunchtime game next to the gym (yes not only did Mac play pick up during the day there was space for a field next to the gym). I turned up, threw a little, found out about the “forehand” (and the around the back upside down on the palm of your hand throw) and got asked “what do you do Monday nights?” “Nothing” “want to play league?” “Ok, what’s league?”… and that’s how it started… It was only this winter league that I had my first time off in that whole time (half a season) and it is rather amusing the observations I’ve made over that time.
First of all you can tell very quickly who’s going to be a good player and who’s not. They’re that player that is throwing a better forehand than you within a week of being taught (I hate that person). Second some people improve very rapidly and kinda plateau while others steadily improve the whole time (with a small minority actually getting worse). Thirdly, some people are shit no matter what. And fourth, teaching beginners to hammer to early is a recipe for disaster (if you’re a “beginner” wanting people to teach you to hammer, or have only just learnt it you really have to reign in that sense… we’re not all Axe Wong).
I always like watching how focused people are when learning a new play (like “zone” or “the stack”). I remember sitting there in my first year, listening to Lee and watching the whiteboard in confusion, Tommy and Ian fucking around in the background distracting everyone and generally not paying attention, didn’t they realize how fucking weird and complicated some of this was… them and their “forehands” and “foot blocks” and “laying out”… bastards. Then in my second year learning how to play something other than wing (with sideline help), force forehand or secondary deep cut and occasionally those “bastard experienced players” would even help explain things. Then after that you start t to get bored… and start standing at the back distracting everyone and not paying attention, getting these greasy looks from the “f*cking kids” learning what a stack is… as if you wouldn’t know that, it’s so basic… lets go throw things and annoy Lee… Hang on that chick/guy that started last season needs some tips on being in the cup, I’ll go try and help them…
It occurred to me a while back that for me I had Lee trying to teach me everything with Tommy, Spills and Ian pissfarting around when I started, and after a while I’d start to get help from Viking Dave and Soph… Then after Dan and I started playing together we were pretty quickly at the back of training pissfarting around annoying everyone (thus BECOMING that learning group of players “Tom and Ian”). Then when Hayley and the girls started suddenly I had to go and captain them in Div 3 and stuff so it was in my interest to try and actually HELP them… so I essentially became their “Viking Dave” (who was my first div 3 captain)… Complete with “STOP HAMMERING YOU CAN’T DO IT YET” moment… So history seems to have a way of repeating itself… Now that Hayley and friends are essentially the Mac brains trust I guess I have to go and attempt some proper coaching of people (Lee Coady style)… if history is to be fulfilled… Or I could just go and piss fart around and annoy people… screw history…
Team names are another thing I have opinions on… Not good opinions if my team mates views are to be believed but stuff them! I think I’m really clever and witty. First of all I’m old school when it comes to Mac Uni… I think we should be called Club Mac at league each time… just because. As far as I know (and concerned) we’ve always been Club Mac and always should be (even if Mac no longer has its “club mac” vibe… or indeed even a Martini glass on our shirts anymore). And the uni games team name should be made up drunkenly on the night before the first day. That being said I think I did propose “Mac Warriors” whatever year we got called “Red Nuts” (sorry Hayley it wasn’t original then either I’m sure) and every single year I think I’ve attempted to call a team “the Lee Coady Experience”, but noone ever goes for that (I think “the Matt, Axe, Fatty and Duncs show FEATURING the Lee Coady Experience”was my best name ever). In fact I’ve been playing 5 years plus and in that time I’ve got to name 2 teams… I got to add “with a w” to the end of my Melb Hat team name (after Bwendon with a W) and my crowning (and only) naming achievement ?!?... Soon to be “the Mighty ?!?” if I have my say… (later ammended to "
In my humble (yet opinionated) opinion no Frisbee team/club has ever blown me away with their name (although I like the reactions ?!? gets when people try and say it, but that’s part of its charm and “wildcard” is not without its charm)… I can’t remember any that have really stood out, kinda like Band names… they stand out because the band (team) is awesome, not because the name is… ?!? would be awesome regardless of our name, same as Fakulti.
That all being said I wonder what the division commissioners reactions would be if you tried to name a team “Bye”. Because on a draw it would come up “?!? Vs Bye”… would people not turn up thinking they had an actual bye? Would that mean you’d get victories by forfeit? Is that poor spirit? Is anyone dumb enough to fall for it?
So onwards (and ever upwards… at least in word count) to my third and finally rant, I’ve been perusing Frisbee blogs left, right and centre (well when I get bored) and I came across Simmo’s “superstar frisbee team made of professional sportsmen/women” post. It reminded me of an article I saw in a Frisbee newsletter years ago (that’s right… not internet based a HARDCOPY newsletter… any of you “f*cking kids” remember those? Huh?)… There was an article (or series or something… they may not have even finished it) about a team made of tv characters or something (All I remember is Xena was a handler because she throws that ring thing). That made me think… who would I put on a “dream team” and to make it a little more original I thought I’d use superheroes (I’m a comic nerd… go with what you know…).
[NERD ALERT WARNING] Skip the next 5 Paragraphs if you can’t take it… you have been warned…
So with a little bit more thought I’ve decided to do stick to Marvel heroes (thus someone who knows more about a rival company can place a challenger team) and make it an “opens team”. The reason it’s only men is because as cool as some female characters are a mixed division team would have 3 players on the field not so much there for their powers (I couldn’t think of any female characters with superpowers that would be awesome on the field) as their “lack” of costume… I also limited it to non “galactic” heroes, I love the silver surfer but the power cosmic (and therefore ability to do whatever he wants whenever he wants… as well as fight gods) would possibly be overkill on a Frisbee field)
So on to the “Marvell 9”, I’ve chosen 9 players to give them some subs and allow the tiny little bit more specialisation. 3 Handlers, 2 Longs and 4 players who can play middle/long/utility type roles.
The first handler is Bullseye. With the power “never misses” I think you could safely rely on him to be a fairly useful handler. No more comment needed there. The Axis handler (and team captain) would be Captain America (despite my hatred of him), he’s supposedly a super duper leader of superhero teams (hence his captaincy) and he’s also fitter, stronger and faster than most people (good things for any sportsman). Finally he’s been flinging that round shield of his at bad guys since the 1940s and surely that’s got to help throwing a disc. The last handler (partly for shits and giggles) is Daredevil. He’s fast, agile and stupidly coordinated and balanced and throws all manner of things at bad guys (which should mean throwing a disc, which is designed to be thrown should come naturally). The shits and giggles part comes in given the fact Bullseye and Daredevil are mortal enemies… the concept of two enemies handling together always amuse me… Picture an incredibly hungover Glenn Molnar and Ian Roxy handling, except rather than just hating each others Mum’s they’re actively trying to kill each other… try and hand block that swing pass…
For our deeps I chose two fairly simple ones. Mr Fantastic, the ability to stretch any part of his body to almost any length would make skying him pretty hard to do… and would also make him a pretty useful deep on defence. The other is Archangel… the only person who could sky the guy that stretches would be the guy that flies…
Our final four middle/utilities are Spiderman, Quicksilver, Nightcrawler and Taskmaster. Spiderman’s agility, speed, spidersense and coordination means he’d be very at home in the middle making short cuts and give going… Quicksilver is stupidly fast, and we all know how shit it is to play someone like that (except maybe Bec Carman) so I won’t explain why that’s a good thing. Nightcrawler teleports, which would be useful while popping against a zone and kinda negates that whole “Frisbees are faster than feet” rule when playing against a pommy… if the pommy can teleport I’m sure the zone will be even stronger. Finally Taskmaster’s power is the ability to do anything he sees (that a mortal man can do)… so he watches a champion yoyo-er and he can yoyo well. Make him watch the Sheppards/Dowles/Dingoes play and he will instantly gain all the skills they demonstrate… that’s a good thing… So that’s my superhero team.
Ah well more Frisbee food for though… kinda… it’s a cold night and league was cancelled, give me a break…
I was lurking around the fringes of ultitalk again (still?) and was reading a bunch of posts on Pommy/Puppy defence and started thinking about all the zone I’ve played over the years. So I decided to start writing my thoughts down in a new post called
”I can’t keep up with my man, lets ZONE them”
So zone… I guess I should start on why zone at all and what I like about it, because I do LOVE it (as anyone who’s played with me should have noticed). Going back to absolute basics Zone defence is where you have one or a couple of players chasing the Frisbee and the rest guarding a “zone” of the field. So a few people run lots and the rest look dangerous, stop long/dangerous throws and hog all the glory. To my mind zone is basically making a “1 point bet” with the opposition. You’re saying “I bet you 1 point that our legs will out last your throwing”, if your fitness is better you get the D or force a throwaway, if their throwing is better then they score a point. The “runners” make the opposition throw lots of passes for very little gain (opposed to man where perfect theory has you scoring in 4 passes or so… handler, handler, handler, mid and then long). This is why you tend to play zone in crappy throwing/catching conditions, as these decrease their ability to throw/catch but not you ability to run (hopefully… weather that decreases your ability to run is probably not fun to be outside in). Conversely this is why playing zone in fine weather against a team of Worlds level handlers is an exercise in frustration because you’re now playing to their strengths (ie giving them lots of easy throws).
So why do I like zone? Well the main reason I like it is it works well, and when played well not only gets results you actually look kind of cool and professional pulling it off… rather than just relying on sheer speed and flailing arms to get the D like you (ie I) do when playing man. Zone is also the best solution for when you’re playing man down compared to your opposition (a situation I sadly find myself in with alarming regularity at leagues). The other reason I like it is because I’m not that fit and definitely not that fast (compared to most other players) and zone means I’m not spending the whole point trying to catch up to someone generally taller, faster and fitter than me… “But wait Tanty, you always play in the cup/wall… surely there is running/speed/fitness involved there?” I hear you cry out (or perhaps question impudently). To which I answer yes the cup/wall/mark has to run, but more important than speed is moving as a unit and containment… The best pommy isn’t always the fastest on the team, it’s the person who best combines a strong mark, field sense and speed into a complete unit… and likewise a cup that arrives as three players running separately (but quickly) isn’t nearly as intimidating as the cup that arrives all at once as a unbreakable unit (although a little bit slower). This means I generally find myself running at least “smarter” if not actually less in a cup/wall than when on man. Plus the reason I play in the cup/wall is generally because I’m not the “glory hound” that most deep deeps are =P (take that TG/Axe/Dan/etc)
Another reason I like zone is the absolutely insane number of variations there are… I love them all. Some are so stupidly complicated it delights me that someone has even thought them up in the first place. On man there’s really not that much you can tweak or play with. Force flick, force backhand, force return, force middle (why do we never force “outside”?) and force straight up are about all I can think of when it comes to man defence and none are really that different. And definitely none fill me with the same level of delight as proposing a “double assassination line trap zone” does. Just listing the variations of zone I’ve played and you get (Lee/Mac Uni generally is to blame for a large number of these)
- “Standard” (3 3 1)
- Standard with a one way force
- 3 2 2
- 3 2 1 Assassin
- 3 2 “Double Assassin”
- 3 2 “Double Assassin line trap” (which I loved for its complexity)
- 3 2 1 “Man Down”
- 2 2 1 “where IS everyone”
- 1 2 1 “lets just forfeit”
- Puppy (with its Hills league variation “Lazy Puppy”)
- and B and my speculative variation “f*cktard” that didn’t quite work (or get off its feet) (2 3 2)
Covering what these are very basically (if you don’t know)…
Standard- 3 man cup, short deep (or middle middle if you call it that), 2 wings and a deep deep.
One way force- I also have a habit of calling this “line trap force” (dependant on my mood). Standard set up, except only one point of the cup is ever on. Ideally trapping them on the line making them throw an upwind break pass when this happens.
3 2 2- Similar to standard, but 2 wing/middles (so the off wing pushes towards the centre to play a “short deep” role) and then 2 deeps to stop a team that’s flooding deep and hucking it well.
3 2 1 Assassin- 3 Cup, 2 wing/middles, 1 deep with 1 player then “man marking” a particularly damaging member of the opposition (or the dump).
3 2 Double Assassin- A Lee Coady special, 3 man cup, 2 wing/deeps (so these players cover a wing each on the in cuts AND the deep cuts… (and potentially the short deep role too) and 2 assassins marking the 2 most dangerous opposition players. Lee used to use 2 girls as assassins, because generally they’d be assassinating a guy and once we got the turn that guy wouldn’t want to mark up on the assassin (chick) marking him… giving a few seconds of confusion where our female assassins could bolt long or do something similarly dangerous/frustrating and probably be unmarked for it. Plus if TV/Hollywood has taught us anything a female assassin is WAY more deadlier than a male (Alias, T3, Firefly, the list goes on…)
3 2 Double Assassin Line Trap- Used only once (against uts a few years back… maybe 2004?) and it worked… So very very complicated though and only worked given we’d played a season or two of assassin and line trapping… so combining them into a weird mutant thing was possible… I loved this zone.
3 2 1 Man Down- 3 cup, 2 wing/middles and 1 deep… used when 1 man down.
2 2 1- 2 man cup (or 1 puppy and 1 wall), 2 wing/middles and 1 deep. Used when 2 men down.
1 2 1- 1 mark, 2 wing/middles, 1 deep. 3 men down and desperate not to forfeit.
Puppy- 1 mark, 3 man wall, 2 wings and 1 deep. “Lazy Puppy” being a variation where the puppy isn’t very fast/fit but willing to run and puts on a reasonable mark. The wall needs to move quickly with no breaks and contain upfield until the “lazy puppy” gets there.
Pommy- Essentially the same as “puppy”. 1 mark, 3 man wall, 2 wings and 1 deep. The difference in my view (and how I was taught) being mainly in how the wall behaves and very slightly in what the mark does.
In a “puppy” I’ve been told that the mark is always forcing to the sideline, with the wall relatively straight and close together blocking all upfield passes as a unit. The object being to trap the disc on the sideline making a risky break throw (or over the top throw) in wind/rain etc.
A “pommy” has a mark forcing away from the dump (sometimes even into the wall), “on” point of the wall cutting upfield passes off, axis cutting upfield and some break throws and the “off” point of the wall stopping the swing pass. So the wall isn’t “straight” like a puppy. Cutting the swing off is important (just listen to Fatty when he’s on the mark and the offence gets a cross field swing pass off past the “off point”… he’s NOT happy). This means that pommy is essentially a VERY aggressive puppy variation putting pressure on basically every throwing option (weather, jumping marks and the wings are supposed to combine to stop cross field hammers and scubas) and if you can get a pommy set up on a “inexperienced” thrower you have a fairly high chance of a stall/throwaway (the aim of most zone defences).
Clam Clam is a variation of 3 3 1 zone, and the zone I am probably least familiar with playing and explaining (Mac Uni doesn’t use it so I haven’t had to explain it to n00bs every year). The short deep/wings/deep deep play generally the same as any other zone with the difference in the 3 man cup, it has a force. On one side of the field you play a fairly standard looking cup (positions called “In the Lane”, “On the Mark” and “Break”). As the disc moves to the side you’re forcing to however things change, “break” no longer marks the disc as they move to start man marking the danger throwers/cutters on the break side. “On the mark” gets onto the mark (surprise!) and “In the Lane” stays in the throwing lane (Surprise!)… The other difference with this cup is rather that stay stationary while the disc is stationary the two not stalling/defending the disc are moving about following the cutters around in their respective areas. Clam is confusing, but very effective when done properly… it also works well when combined with transition as you already have a force decided.
(Updated... this is the Clam I was taught... I know there is one that is more like a poach around the stack sort of man thing... but I don't play that one)
Transition- Transition is not so much a Zone defence as an extra trick you can do when playing zone. Halfway through you stop playing zone (generally after a pre decided number of passes) and switch to man… Dare I say it you “transition” to man… Works well if you’ve been playing zone on a team for a few points and they’re starting to get their zone offence working. Suddenly rather than three handlers, poppers and wings needed they have to get back into a stack, so there’s generally a pass or two that are in complete confusion as the offence should be scattered around the field with no real open space (making it relatively easy to get a block… in theory). Transition works better from “standard” than “pommy” and better from “clam” than any other (as a force has already been set). Some teams will transition after a very short number of passes (say 2-4) giving you just long enough to have set your zone O before you have to stack back up. Others take a lot longer (say 5+) meaning that you should be really set into your zone O and not expecting having to change to a stack… I’m not sure which technique I prefer…
Tip- If the team zoning you have a sideline loudly counting they’re 99% likely to transition… when they stop counting, suddenly one player runs next to you pointing at you or they yell “NOW/mark up” they’re switching to man.
Tip 2- If they’re still counting when you turn the disc over they probably aren’t just counting to confuse you… you just turned it before they got to their magic number.
Tip 3- If they score before you get to your magic “transition number” decrease the number next time…
F*cktard This zone didn’t really work. B and I dreamed it up after watching the Kiwi women in the nationals final and trying to work out what their zone was. We couldn’t work that out but we came up with something in our minds that had potential to work and tried it at the Stampede this year… where it didn’t work. Essentially it was 2 marks, a 3 man wall and 2 wing/deeps. What we wanted to happen was a Pommy on the mark, a Pommy wall (so no upfield and no swing), a mark on the dump (essentially a man mark) and then 2 wing/deeps covering everything else. In theory you had a mark for each side of the field with the “off” mark guarding the dump (putting on more pressure and making it quicker for the mark to get “on the mark” after a swing pass). What it left WIDE open though was big swilly cross field hammers (as the wing/deeps where generally outnumbered because of the 5 players chasing the disc). In terrible weather this may work… except in terrible weather almost ANY defence works. In hindsight maybe a 1 3 2 assassin (assassinating the dump) would be more effective… It was called f*cktard because Junior (who was aware of our plans) asked “are we going to play that retarded idea of yours this game?” (or something like that… and “retard” zone may not be very PC)… that and the fact it failed utterly is why it became “f*cktard”.
General Zone Offence Tip- If the team you were playing used a zone on you, you turn the disc and then regain possession and someone on their team shouts “reset” expect the zone again. If not (or someone yells “f*ck it, MAN!”) expect to be playing man offence.
So why talk about zone at all? Well partly because I like it and it’s easier to crap on about something you have a strong opinion on. Another reason is there seems to be a lot of “zone thought” floating out there in Frisbee land (see ultitalk) and the final reason is everyone seems to have fallen in love with “pommy” and I’m not one to miss a chance to soapbox about anything. So where did I put that soapbox? *ahem* When the hell did the 11th commandment “thou shalt honour, over and attempt to exclusively play pommy” come through? Like seriously… Back in my day (well maybe 4-5 years ago) when men where men and zone was zone… well maybe not that extreme but the “pommy phenomenon” has seemed to take (at least Sydney) by storm in the last year. A few years back (at least in my experience) “standard” zone was just that, the standard. VERY occasionally a team might put on an assassination or a transition and “puppy” was this thing some teams did occasionally to see what would happen. Zone was also basically restricted to during shite conditions and when an assassin was going to be a good idea.
Then I first trained with fakulti (2004 or 2005 I think… the “green and white” year, before world clubs in Perth) was the first time I ever saw a puppy work (and it was called “puppy” at the time). With Glover on the mark, Pete Gardener in the wall and a surplus of Dowles floating about it worked… But sometimes you get the feeling even discrespect would generate turnovers for teams like that. Ironically in that tournie (seeds of doom… Mac unis OLD tournament) we where the “bad” Fakulti team after we lost to the other one (complete with 3 Sheppards and Fatty). This was also the first time I encountered Clam, with Pete Gardener RAVING about it and how awesome Clam transition worked for the Aussie Men’s team (in Finland I’m guessing… good luck to all those boys in Vancouver btw). At the time Clam transition was basically Fakulti’s zone of choice because you could tailor it to fit the prevailing wind conditions etc… and it forced the opposition to react to the defence rather than just run whatever offence they wanted to, making it a fairly “proactive” defensive option.
You will notice there was no sign of “pommy” yet… In fact in my observations “pommy” didn’t really seem to enter into peoples’ playbooks (except as a different name for the relatively unused puppy) until after Junior Worlds 2006 (although I may be behind the times here and it was a “world clubs” phenomenon instead… but this is my observations…) and for this I blame one man… Fatty “the pommy” Maulkner… I don’t think it’s a coincidence that every team I know he’s coached/been involved in coaching seems to have picked up Pommy as what seems to be their “first option” zone within a couple of years… The junior girls (Fatty’s team) used it in 2006 (and will be using it at worlds this year too), Fakulti (with Fatty as a coach, brains trust and “pommy of choice” alongside Glover and Tom B) use pommy a lot (but still like their clam too), Mac uni (where Fatty most recently played, and was coaching too) is addicted to pommy and Suufa love their pommy too (I’m sure someone there will debate the Fatty connection, as he no longer coaches there and they’ve only recently started using it so much… but Fatty still coached there, and the majority of the Suufa big wigs are also now Fakulti boys… and therefore have felt “Fatty’s touch”). So in answering my own question “who is to blame for this addiction to Pommy?” I cast the blame first and foremost at Fatty’s feet (alliteration aside, it’s still his fault).
Now don’t read that as I’m to opposed to pommy as a concept (I do quite enjoy playing centre of the wall, and LOVE the ego boost I get being told I play it well… and actually getting some “hand on disc” blocks is fun too… but semi dangerous to type/say) but I think the view of pommy as a “super” play that will always work is a little bit narrow minded… especially if you learn it to such an extent you neglect to learn other zone variations (Have a read of the pommy/puppy success debate on ultitalk if you don’t believe me). Yes pommy is effective, the aggression of the mark and the way it shuts down so many throwing options is great but it does have its weaknesses. First of all Pommy is trickier to learn than a standard zone (so beginners can’t just be dropped into it as easily). Teaching the wall what to do is fairly important… otherwise the centre of the field is wide open. Second you need to have players that can play all the different positions (if you don’t have a decent Mark or you don’t have good wings/deeps you’re not going to do very well). If you don’t have an obvious player to play as the mark and knows what they’re doing they’re going to get broken a lot and then they have to really run their ass off rather than concentrate on containment. Finally, the pommy is vulnerable to hammers/scubas/over the top throws. In high wind/rain (or with TG, Jimmy and Nick Dowle as your wings and deep) you may want the offence to throw these because they’re very low percentage throws in that weather, but in nice conditions with confident (if not actually capable) handlers these throws are reliable enough to get away with. To use an example from my experience I played the Junior girls a few weeks ago now (I’m apparently a “Hills Woman”… it’s because I’m so pretty) and they put a pommy on us a lot. At first B (also a pretty Hills woman) and I weren’t playing 100% (sorry girls, but a) you’re juniors b) you’re girls and c) you’re Australian representatives so we weren’t going to play 100% ever… you’re worth more than us if we broke you) and their pommy worked well. Then when we got the message (“the girls think you aren’t playing 100% and they’re PISSED… pick it up”) B and I changed tactics from “dump and swing” to “cheeky short hammers to the middle of the field” and it worked… we walked in point after point (well relatively compared to how hard we had to work earlier in the game) because there’s noone in a pommy who can really stop this tactic (like the short deep of a standard zone). Now if there was wind/rain I wouldn’t have been throwing that (given I was at axis throwing most of our teams’ hammers too B) because they wouldn’t have made it… but in fine conditions against a team shorter than me (which the girls were…) I will back my hammer as a reliable throw (more so than my forehand). Of course later in the game when I stopped throwing hammers (and also cramped up for the first time ever in a game) the pommy once again started working very well and the girls managed to win (with no small amount due to Sarah’s PHENOMENAL endzone layout at the end…). So that highlighted (at least to me) the big weakness of pommy, that people seem to overlook when seeing it as the miracle play. As an aside I read Chris (from qld) ulti talk post about beating a pommy… Keep the disc moving and if the mark says “stalling… 1…” you’ve held the disc to long and I’d have to say I agree (although that’s not my style of play) and once again that will work better in nicer conditions than in crappy weather… which is when Pommy is essentially at its weakest.
So what do I think is most effective then? Or what is my favourite? Well that’s a hard question to answer. I think the obvious (and somewhat cheeky) answer is the best zone is the one you’ve practiced and know. It’s a bit of a cop out but the zone you know works WAY better than the zone you don’t know. If you hypothetically know all of them and had to choose I’d say honestly it depends on the circumstances. High Wind? Try a Pommy. One player way more experience and killing you? Try an Assassin. One man down? 3 2 1. It varies depending of the situation. Of course the ability to mix it up and change what zone you’re doing when the opposition adjust to it is fantastic also. If you’re taller, faster and playing in nice weather? What’re you doing playing zone? Just play man and kill them that way…
So I guess my answer is I don’t really have a favorite but like the option of mixing it up when my attention span wanders… Plus I like playing different zones with different team mates. With B on my team I can happily play “centre of the wall” to his pommy all game. When TG is around and about at league I don’t really care that much what I have to do provided he’s deep of me to bail us out on the long huck. And the warm fuzzy feeling of sheer delight I have playing a standard cup with Hayley a few metres to my left/right as my axis is quite pleasant too.
Of course the opposite occasionally applies. Those unfortunates enough to play mixed regionals with me in 2007 would’ve seen my behaviour/spirit/temperament deteriorate fairly rapidly over the course of the weekend (for which I humbly apologise) due in fact mainly to frustrations with our zone defence getting hammered and it being our only real option (and inability to score points). Basically with me as the “most experienced” (or close enough to) player on the team and on the field for a relatively high % of each game (particularly the defence points we had) I was pooped and playing well out of my comfort zone (I’m not so sure I’m the greatest option for “mark” at that level of game). And that frustrated me, but given our lack of legs/speed relative to the opposition man defence wasn’t a great option either… But that is possibly another post.
I guess I’ll finish with MY list of tips for zone…
- Run “smarter” not faster
- Work as a unbreakable unit not a collection of individuals (like you might on man)
- Mix it up if you can to keep the “enemy” on their toes
- My final tip which I say all the time to “n00bs”… Don’t get broken, it just means you have to run more and that sucks…
I guess that’s all I have to say on Zone… for now…
So it’s been a long time since I wrote anything about Frisbee so I thought I should give the pair of you that read this pile of bollocks something else to use for procrastinational purposes. I’m going to claim a variety of reasons delaying me from writing anything, laziness, distraction watching/reading about worlds etc, NSL finals (3 div 2 wins running!) and Mixed Regionals all occupying valuable faffing about time. But given (at the time of writing) it’s weeks after the re-regionaling of regionals I can’t really claim that anymore either… I was kinda hoping that Mixed Regionals would result in me having something really interesting to get writing about, but upon looking back on my weekend I noticed a distinct lack of Mixed Regionals taking place… Rather than write a blog on weather patterns and ten pin bowling (who bowls a sub 50 game and follows it up with a 120 game? The same douche that bowls a 130+ and follows it with a 60 I guess… bowling sucks) I thought I’d try and write something semi constructive… So this “15 monkeys with typewriters hoping for a post” collection of words is going to be entitled “I wish I could learn to be ambidextrous…”
So we’ve got two topics here, both kind of related(ish), learning new skills and ambidexterity. Starting with the easy one, which is ambidexterity. I guess to start with I should say I’m VERY right handed… indeed I’m also right eyed, right footed and have no doubt that if it was possible I’d be right eared. I guess the left side of my brain is just way more kick ass than the right side of my mind, at least in the coordination department (and given my demonstrated levels of unco-ordination that should send tremors of fear through everyone’s spines at the level of unco-ordination possessed by the left hand side of my body). I find ambidexterity to be one of those skills that just blow my mind… like juggling 5 + objects, free string yo-yoing and acrobatics (all sadly far beyond my coordination levels). Mumsie is left handed and can write slowly with her right hand (and backwards with her left) so she can do a trick where she writes her name simultaneously with her left and right hand, except her left hand write backwards… I can barely hold a pen in my left hand. A mate dating back to pre Frisbee times (primary school actually) was a bit of a dunce and used to think he was left handed… but it was pointed out he was actually writing with his right hand… so he just switched hands he was using to write with… By year 12 he was writing essays with one hand until it got sore and then switching to the other… Suffice to say I’m quite jealous of anyone who is ambidextrous.
So how the hell does that relate to Frisbee? Well there’s a couple of ways, the first is the most obvious… We shall call it the “Beast” technique. Basically when one hand is fucked you throw with your other until you recover… It won’t be used regularly (you hope), but you can bet your ass if you ever had to do it you’d be pretty pleased that you could. I’m sure Anson, B and a host of others wish they were able to pull that off now. But I guess it’s only available to the ridiculously coordinated but rather unlucky few who break bones in their hands but can still manage to play one handed… bastards that they are… all of them.
The other I will call the “Kenny” technique, obviously based on Fakulti’s number 10 with his “the next evolution in Frisbee is ambidextrous throwers” theory. I think this works basically along two lines… one being if you keep changing the hand you’re throwing with it will confuse the players marking you and make hold a force a pain in the ass. The other bonus being more related to your footwork, if you don’t establish a pivot foot straight away (kinda like netball) you have the option of pivoting and throwing to either side which would make break pass easier… and probably popping in a cup with O-Shep’s “sneak in pivot through” technique. No more messy footwork as you can pivot and throw either way. Finally there’s that whole “filthy lefty” thing, where you’re marking your player and thinking “force flick” and you don’t realise until to late they’re a lefty and you’re forcing break side… Imagine if you could do that on a whim (or the person you were marking switched every pass)… annoying.
Another thing vaguely related to this is something I was thinking a while ago when talking to some “newer” players to the game, it’s “what hand is on top when you catch?” Sounds silly but it is something to think about… I was watching a beginner try and catch a blade coming in from their right with their right hand on top. The pose required was quite awkward kinda leaning to the left with their right elbow almost above their head. It looked so awkward that I actually stopped to try and work out what they where doing and why. Then I had to work out if I ever did that and I realised I’d just catch that left hand on top and that I catch most of the passes I do left hand on top because it’s easier to get a forehand or backhand grip on. I did the mental review and worked out I never had the opposite problem (disc coming in to my left and catching left hand on top) because then I’d just put my right hand on top… I don’t find this as useful for myself because it’s harder to get a forehand grip on quickly. I wish I could claim this was a deliberate thing and that I think/do this in games deliberately but my main thought process during any game is “don’t fuck up”… I guess what I’m saying is it’s something that may be worth the 30 seconds thought and explanation if you see someone struggling with it.
The other point I was blathering on about was “learning new things”. Now I’m sure everyone remembers what it was like when you started playing (some of you may be experiencing this stage of development now… n00bs) and everything was new and confusing (as opposed to poorly explained/communicated and confusing). Week in and week out you had to remember what “forehands” were and what “clear out”, “force”, “dump” and an anguished “NOOOOOoooo” meant. Then you move on to “zone”, “force return”, “no look scuba”, “shoulder fake” and “JUST HOLD THE FORCE” meant (the later primarily meaning Axe is getting the shits with you/someone/everyone). My point being from day zot playing Frisbee you’re getting exposed to a bunch of skills/tricks/tactics that you need to (apparently) instantly memorise after one short and concise (if you’re lucky) explanation. As you play longer the set of skills you need to learn does grow but it tapers off apparently after a while when you know it all and are just down to practicing… or does it? *dramatic music*
For I’ve been playing nearly 6 years now (it will be 6 years in the first week back to semester this year… I started playing a week after uni games 2002… where I would’ve made the team due to my skill levels and “pulse”… (Macquarie having fairly intense selections that year) and in all that time I’m stilling learning new skills/tips (and indeed struggling with the basics). Twas not long ago I was playing somewhere with Nikki Shires and the offensive team (not mine despite Axe and my combined ability to be fundamentally offensive) had possession (I think I got burnt long… for a change) after a long huck just outside the endzone and I was left marking the player with the disc whom had very little support. One attacking player had run through followed by a defender and I had very consciously put on a reasonably hard force (the way we’d decided earlier too) and the offence put a floaty pass through to the open side onto which the attacking player ran to score (because they had a lead on their mark). Off the field I trundled (I’d played one point, time for a rest) and thought “bummer not much we could do about that… and I did the correct thing” (I remember not being too grumpy so I guess the score was a little one sided to us… we did have Ms Shires on the team). Nikki (in coach mode) pulled me aside and just said “next time that happens force straight up… that way they shouldn’t put that longer pass through and it’ll have to go to a sideline…” then she took off (probably to yell at Hayley to make her run faster… Due to Hayley’s “mustn’t upset Nikki” thing), but I was a little shocked… why didn’t I think of that? It seems so obvious now but it was just something I’d never thought about before and never been told. I was pretty excited 5 years (ish) into the game and there are still new things to learn and think about… And this still happens, we get to try new defences, you play new positions and VERY rarely (at least for me) you play with new people who do things differently. You can learn new stuff all the time if you pay attention and think about it, and it’s not just from players way more experienced/better than you (i.e. Ms Shires and the Fakulti brains trust). Special sauce pulled out some new (and incredibly simple) endzone plays and methods to call them that I’d not thought of. Keep your eyes peeled and new things can be learnt from nearly everyone (even yourself)… Ok maybe it’s mainly coming from more experienced players but it CAN be from anyone potentially. I guess you need to be open to stuff all the time, be it much around training, learn to play, hats, Uni games or nationals. It can be small or large but everything counts. I can’t remember who it was but once upon a time not that long ago someone said “crash straight onto the mark, not the popper” and that very quickly became my crashing motto… but it was YEARS in the cup before I was told that and it would’ve been awesome to know that earlier. Hence why I tell EVERYONE to do it… years futilely trying to keep formation AND chase the poppers around could’ve been avoided. Of course the fickle finger of fate being what it is I now find myself middle of the wall (in TG’s infamous “girl wall” more often than not) and given how I play that I’m so flat footed I can’t crash in time when I hear the “crash” call… oh well, I’ll just try and talk the points into doing the crashing =P
One final thing I have been thinking about (based mainly on reading Simmo’s blog and Ultitalk) is team names (again). Simmo has a feeling that we should be naming teams (particularly at NUFL) after the regions they’re from etc as this is more “respectable” and will make it easier to get media attention etc. So rather than Fakulti vs. I-beam it would be Sydney vs. Newcastle. Now I can definitely see his point… and a hell of a lot of the team names out there (especially at league) are rubbish/not very good promotion wise. I’m sure however we can continue naming our league teams whatever we want (as happens in other sports) and when we have something “big” (regionals/nationals or more specifically anything we’re trying to get media attention to/at) we get the captain to name a region/city for promotional purposes. I just think we’d get a more positive media thing happening if they could write Sydney Fakulti defeated Sydney Barefoot 507-1 in the NSW state championships than Fakulti vs. Barefoot. Basically keep the name we have and add a location when we’re advertising ourselves. So Sydney Spiderpig beats Melbourne Vintage at the mixed nats final in any coverage we’re trying to get etc. I guess this came about from reading Simmo’s NUFL should be used for promotion and we should name the teams after regions point. The counter argument is no one would get as fired up to play for “Sydney/Melbourne” as they would for “Barefoot/Fakulti/HoS” etc. and that’s a fairly valid point. But I think if we called a team “Melbourne Heads of State” and “West Australian Sublime” we’d know exactly who’s playing, could get just as fired up and it still gives us a region. This all grows from sending a link to the wide world of sports nationals video to a few friends and being asked who I played for. In the vid they say “for the record Sydney defeated Canberra in the final” so when I said “Fakulti” I then had to explain that meant one of the Sydney teams… and someone said why aren’t you called Sydney then? And the answer that sprang to mind “shut up/just because” wasn’t constructive.
Having just returned from the Melbourne Hat I thought I had a brain wave for a topic to crap on about
Dominated by the Weather
For the Melbourne Hat this year had me dominated by 4 of the 5 Frisbee elements. Now we’re not talking carbon, oxygen, silicon and americium but classical elements Fire, Water, Earth and Air. Yes that’s only 4 elements I know but I’m going the Captain Planet method of adding 1 5th , assuming that the Greek and Hindu “aether” element isn’t being used (the power of nothing at all being a SHIT power). No I know most of you will assume I’m going to add “Heart” as an analogue for spirit… which while clever is not what I’m doing because first of all you can’t really get “dominated” by spirit (well you can, but that’s an entirely separate rant) and also I’ve already written enough bullshit about spirit on the internet. So we’re going to add the 5th element that has absolutely dominated me while playing… Alcohol (the *other* spirit... do you see what I did there? HILARIOUS)
So to recap for anyone not following this one is about how the 5 elements Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Alcohol can fuck up your Frisbee…
First of all Fire… Set someone on fire and you will prevent them playing Frisbee to their full capabilities… however that does seem to be against the rules.
1.6 The following actions are clear violations of the spirit of the game and must be avoided by all participants:
1.6.1 dangerous play and aggressive behaviour.
So I think that rules out physically burning your opponent. Plus if you read my post heading you will see we’re talking about the weather… and when you combine the concept of weather and fire you are obviously going to be talking about THE SUN. Now to the best of my understanding (and DON’T correct me) the sun is basically a big hot nuclear fire a long way away that can do a few things that affect your frisbee abilities. The first is that the sun makes things hot, and when you get hot you sweat. When you sweat lots you dehydrate and dehydrating lots is very very bad. Playing Frisbee in super hot weather is really quite unpleasant and sweating like a pig (do pigs sweat that much really?) or “glowing” if you’re one of those girls that don’t “sweat” isn’t much fun either. At its most extreme playing in really hot weather can be dangerous and you do need to be careful, and even if you are careful getting super hot and dehydrated will affect your ability to play at your peak. The other thing the sun can do to affect the way you play is sunburn… Being sunburnt sucks (as many of us at Melbourne hat will know). A light burn is a bit unpleasant and the itching as it heals is annoying. The full on “English backpacker tan” is downright painful (not to mention dangerous) and takes a while to heal. And playing the day after you burn yourself can be very ouchy too… and that stops you playing at your best. Oh and burning the backs of your knees and then having to put up with the hem of your shorts rubbing on the burny ouch? that SUCKS.
And for those of you unaware I got fried at Melbourne Hat on the Sunday and would not have enjoyed playing a game while so torched…
So how to stop this happening? First of all wear sunscreen, secondly drink lots of water (or powerade/Gatorade if you’re one of those junkies) and thirdly don’t play savage on a hot day (although I could be persuaded to say don’t play savage ever).
Now on to our second element… Water… most commonly water will affect my ability to play Frisbee has been falling from the sky. Sometimes the amount of water falling from the sky closes the field and this has a somewhat complete shutdown of my ability to play, the extreme example being Mixed Regionals this year or any other the bajillion weeks worth of rained out games. But on other occasions such as Nationals and Melbourne Hat the falling water (hence forth called “rain”) has been happening (in a variety of degrees from “Nationals/Melb Hat” to “is it raining?”) whilst the game is being played. When it rains things get slippery and catching/throwing is harder, and this makes Frisbee harder. So what to do? Well concentrate a little bit more and dry the disc off on something as you play is about all you can do… and maybe not throw faffy shit (but don’t throw faffy shit is good advice in any conditions I think and I wish more people I knew did that). However I can safely say if I have dry clothes waiting for me I don’t mind playing in the rain. Being primarily a defence player (ie I can’t throw for shit) it affects the core of my game in almost a positive way (the people I’m marking drop it more). The exception to the “liking the rain rule” gets invoked when the rain is below a certain threshold temperature. Nationals at Coffs Fakulbee had what was probably our best “half” against Chilly in the rain. Our D was tight (I even got a block in the wall) and we converted our turns because Chilly couldn’t control the disc enough and that put us up (of course it stopped raining for the second half and we ended down but oh well). Melbourne Hat rain wasn’t what made things so unpleasant for me… it was COLD rain and wind that made me feel miserable (and I don’t the that the water falling from the sky affected how I played that much) not the rain itself… Had you warmed things up a little I don’t think anyone would worry as much, water isn’t too bad. However as the water soaks into the ground you start to encounter problems with our next element…
Earth… And by earth I’m going to talk about the ground and how it can “fuck my shit up”. Ground has an often overlooked effect on how I play, just have a look at how completely useless I am playing on sand and you will see it. For whatever reason (I’m not sure why) I just can’t run on it, and I’ve noticed the same effect with some people and the opposite on others. Some people don’t seem to slow down at all and others (like me) seem to walk faster on sand than they run. Maybe it’s a biomechanical running action thing, maybe it’s just I’m heavier than most players and sink further down… But whatever it is I just can’t run… at all. Mud is the same… Really heavy mud, like Nationals or even some of the Melb Hat fields seem just like sand to me… Lots and lots of work and no forward motion at all. Super hard ground with no grass on the other hand isn’t that hard to run on, but if you fall over or dive you can kiss goodbye to a lot of skin, and losing skin hurts, not to mention the fact that you’re actually supposed to go off the field if you’re bleeding.
18.1.2. If any player has an open or bleeding wound, an injury stoppage must be called and that player shall take an immediate injury substitution and may not rejoin the game until the wound is treated and sealed.
I’ve seen lots of players grave their arms/legs and never seen one go off for it… I’ve played on bleeding myself too… whoops. Nice soft grass is obviously the ideal surface to be playing on (on the few occasions we get to play on it) but then when it’s wet/sand/soft etc there’s always a few clowns out there who go a bit silly for the layouts and start to do that unnecessarily when they could just run onto the disc… their choice I guess. Oh well… The ground affects how you play but there’s not much control we have over the condition of the ground, just playing sensible if conditions have the potential to hurt us.
The final element that was dominating me at the Melb Hat was Air… which in this case I mean wind. I’m sure altitude can have an affect if you play up really high (I read something on the Dingos blog to that effect) but I’m fairly certain it won’t affect my game (because I doubt I will be playing at any high altitude in the foreseeable future). So this section is just going to be me bitching about the wind.
I don’t like playing in the wind… It sucks. It takes my meagre talents and fucks them up completely. I just can’t throw anything over a VERY short pass with any reliable chance of success and every single turnover I cause shits me. The worst game I’ve ever played was Regionals in Wollongong in 2004 on the Sunday. I got worked over by the wind, I think every time I caught the disc outside the endzone was a turnover. Melb hat wind was probably nearly as bad (it might not have been as strong but it was a lot colder and made worse by rain that regionals 2004 didn’t have) but I didn’t have as many turns. I’m pretty sure most of my throws got to their target at melb at least… But either way I don’t like the wind. Same applies to beach ultimate, not only do you have all the fun of not being able to run on sand, you’ve generally got a stronger wind too… Stupid Air and Earth combining to fuck me up. Normally I’d probably crap on a bit longer about how crap the wind is but I’m sure everyone has had a similar experience and you don’t need to listen to me crap on that much about it…
Our last “Frisbee element” is not going to be spirit but rather Alcohol (in a certain sense “spirit” I guess). Spirit is important but I don’t feel like crapping on about that again… So we’re going to briefly mention just how very hard it is to play hungover… Truly epically hungover… I don’t care who you are, but if you have a full on hang over you are not playing at your peak, if you think you are you clearly aren’t hungover… you’re still schmammered.
My first Terrigal Towel I got a tiny bit inebriated and spent the ENTIRE Sunday unable to walk, talk and breathe at the same time… I could choose two out of the three things on that list. So if I was walking it meant no talking and vice versa. After about half a game Josh walked up and said “Tanty man… the boys and I have been talking and you don’t have to go on the field anymore”. As an aside at Terigal towel the year after Eloise was heard talking to someone about how she had someone on her team the year before spent Sunday in a chair moaning “I’m sweating rum!”… That was me Ellie… sorry. Summer Fun series in whatever year that it was… I don’t think I played one of those tournaments unhungover and it sucked. I recall my first point ever played with Matt was at Summer fun one, I arrived in an absolute state but got put on for first point as I was cleated up (I woke up in the morning and realised there was no way I could ever manage to change shoes so I just put my cleats on from the start). We were on D and I looked at Matt and said “uh the field is moving” and he grinned and simpled said “it’ll be ok, go mark [insert name of good player whom I forget who it was here]”. No Matt, no… It was NOT ok… Regionals 2007… Well the less said about that the better. I wasn’t that hungover Sunday, but I was also incapable of getting to the fields in time to play any part in our 1st game, it took half the 2nd game to get my shoes on and then they (Simon) put me in the cup where I played 3 points and died). So even without a hangover alcohol has dominated me pretty fiercely on the Frisbee field. Needless to say, if I feel I have to play at the best level I can the next day I’m off the sauce the night before… and no possible usage of the word “soft” will get me to budge if I think the next day’s games are important.
So in summary there are the 5 element of Frisbee, of which 4 completely dominated me at the Melbourne Hat this year. Fire, I got sunburnt and am still pink in patches. Water, it rained… lots. Earth, it was muddy. And Air, it was very windy. For once however at a social tournament though I wasn’t dominated by the 5th element Alcohol, not even the quasi-element Lack of sleep raised its ugly head… Pity I got my leg infected and couldn’t play Sunday anyway… oh well
So that’s all my frisbee posts... 16,000 words, 27 pages and the core of a fucking thesis
Love, Hugs and Kisses