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Author Topic: a little ulti-talk work in progress  (Read 12593 times)
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SirWatsonII
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« on: July 31, 2009, 02:48:07 AM »

So I am a coach of a high school team in New York City.  I love my team, hell, i'm an alum of the team.  But if i may use harsh words we are very bad.  We haven't been around long.  Our first season was 2007, we went 3-9.  Then all the founders left and i joined for a season and we went 2-10.  And this last season we went 1-8.  Now we're in a competitive league.  It's NYC.  We compete against annual powerhouses like Stuyvesant high school (took state last year) and Beacon high school (went to state finals 2 years ago).  Thus I present to you a work that needs progressing.

It might be easy to say that we cannot win the city championship this year.  After all, we are the second worst team in the division.  I can rank two players on our twenty man team as "athletic," i can rank three players on our twenty man team as particularly skilled with a disc, and i can rank one player on our team as an excellent competitor.  Unfortunately, one person counts in all three of those so essentially im down to three or so good players and one AMAZING player.

I want a city championship.  Before you call me crazy or point out that winning is not everything, which it is not, let me tell you what we do have.  We have the willpower and dedication to craft ourselves into a championship team.  We have a six month preseason where i will have 2-3 practices a week, and we will have 4 practices a week immediately preceding the season.  The team members are with me on this.  They have the dedication, the fuel for our success...but they have given me the steering wheel.  So i turn to the only, and thus my favorite, ultimate forum i participate in for some measure of help.

I need broad directional advice and i need individual drills that i can use.  I need overall strategies that you think a non-athletic, not particularly skilled team can implement, and i need individual plays that i can teach them.  They are a misshapen ball of clay, and i would like to mould them into an adonis...if we want to be poetic.

Note that i coached them to a 1-8 season last year...but we only lost 1 player to graduation.  Unfortunately, this next year we will lose 17 seniors at the end of the season.  I had the privilege of being on a championship basketball team and really want to give these kids the experience i had in high school.  (i graduated last year, mind you).

Any help will be appreciated.  To get you started...i know the box drill and we have been focusing our offense on deep passes because we do not have consistent cutting or short range throwing for a short offense.  Thus i was planning on drilling the essentials of ultimate into them.  Short, crisp throws to perfection and then expanding outward and ofcourse ill also expand their athleticism.  The problem is i don't know where to start with improving their fundamentals, and if there are any drills you know that improve ultimate fundamentals AND athleticism thatd be appreciated otherwise ill do our basketball athleticism drills and have them do ultimate fundamentals as a separate drill.

thanks for any help you provide and it would be an honor if this were a project that ulti-talk took upon itself as I intend to keep ultitalk fully updated on any progress and look forward to implementing any and all advice that is provided to me.
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rrudnic
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2009, 09:25:36 AM »

Just a couple broad things:
First you have to improve their speed/athelticism, there are tons of good places to get workouts heres a good one to start with. http://ultitraining.wordpress.com/ I would say focus on some agility drills and some sprint workouts, doing those things after never doing them before you will see some decent returns pretty quick.
Second if you need drills theres a thread on here somewhere with a link to a drills website that has like 100 drills.
Third I think your strategy is entirely wrong, if your team is slow and unathletic why would you make your strategy hucking when the other team will already have an advantage just because of their players athleticism? Your strategy should be working the under, quick strikes and slashes from the handler set, slowing the game down and precision is the only way you will negate the other teams physical advantages. Yes you need to take deep shots to keep them honest but that should not be your focus. I played on an intramural team for years in college (for fun outside college team) and we only had 2 or 3 good athletes most years and never lost a regular season game and never lost before the quarterfinals in the tournament because we slowed the game down and took advantage of the fact that we had better throws and understood the game better. So I think you really need to rethink your strategy.
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evanhp
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2009, 09:56:09 AM »

I agree with the last post. The most important thing to teach a team, any team, (even one with athletes) is that you must keep the short game a must and then go to deep game when the opportunity comes, it shouldnt be the first option all the time.

A simple cutting drill we like to do is as follows:
Three players, one handling, one cutter, and one defender.  Have the cutter and d guy about 10 yards away. Have the cutter make an out cut (fake) and then bust in towards you can have the thrower give him a nice leading throw for the grab. You can add a mark to make it more of a natural Ultimate throw while stepping around. The object is not for the mark to block him but just to give him a challenge. Also, you can switch it up in-out as to fake out the defender if you want to focus more on d. You can also change the force side and practice both ways. For a better challenge have the cut come from the break side and practice breaking a mark.  The key is to make sure their cuts are hard when they make the final cut (either it be in or out). They need to commit and sprint in to the disc, never slowing down as the defender can lay out and knock it down if they slow up.
For a conditioning drill we usually make the same cutter do this 5 times and then switch. So Cutter become defender, defender thrower, and thrower cutter. If you do this in repetition, it will get your cardio going nicely and can turn in to a nice drill. 

Its fun and challenging while getting a workout.

Overall, if youre practicing that much and have that much dedication, you should be able to improve quickly as long as youre doing something to enhance the skills. I would focus on the in cuts for a while and the thought of not clogging and make sure theyre always moving. Start off practice with a quick throwing drill (box) and then work on the other stuff. I think that would be a great start. Good luck.
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knappy
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2009, 04:11:24 PM »

Here is my favorite all-time team drill for teaching the fundamentals: do it every practice, and your players will catch & throw significantly better. I give this drill some credit for making my old mixed team (Amp) a much more fundamentally sound squad.

Assuming you have 20 players @ a practice....
Break your team up into 4 cutting lines of 4 players each. Each line has a thrower, about 5-8 yards away. The throws should be short.

Coach calls out: " cut left, clear right" (or vice versa)

The first player in each line cuts left by taking 2-3 steps away, planting hard, and then coming straight @ the thrower. All catches should be claw catches. All the throws should be the same (flicks or backhands). Once you catch it, you turn & clear to the next line (in this example, the line to your right.)

The lines should be tight, maybe 2 meters apart. Mark the cutting lines off with cones. The first few times, there may be some near collisions as players cut/clear in the wrong places.

Players should count drops, throwaways, and pancake catches. At the end of each throwing session, everyone does X number of pushups per mistake.

Then, rotate in 4 new throwers & do it again. Do it until everyone gets a chance at throwing. I think we timed it by making a cutter go through every line twice. Regardless, it's exhausting.

P.S. An ideal size for the cutter line is about 4-5 players.




« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 04:25:05 PM by knappy » Logged

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alexb
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« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2009, 01:55:27 AM »

I really like that drill but could u explain the way the lines are cutting and where the throwers are at. I want to put it into practice with my team just want to make sure i have it down pat.
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knappy
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2009, 10:44:48 AM »

Throwers         O             O            O            O

(5 meters)

Cutters            X             X             X            X

                      X             X             X            X

                      X             X             X            X

About 2 meter wide cutting lanes between each lane

First person cuts left, clears to the back of the line to his/her right

The cut is 2-3 steps away, plant & cut towards thrower.

lots of throws, lots of catches

claw catches only. Later, you can work in 1 handed catches only (dominant hand followed by opposite hand)



« Last Edit: August 03, 2009, 10:48:44 AM by knappy » Logged

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chargeorge
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2009, 10:54:35 AM »

I like that Drill Knappy, lines of 4, hard in cuts, and hard clears.  There's a lot that's taught there. 

Do you cycle through everyone as a thrower, or focus on handlers? 
Do you use markers forcing the throwers? 
Why Claw catches instead of pancakes?
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knappy
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2009, 01:43:20 PM »

Yes, everyone throws once. Thrower can choose to work on flicks or backhands, I assume, but they should be consistent. I'm righthanded, so I usually threw flicks when someone was cutting from the cutters' left, and backhands when someone was cutting from the cutters' right. (hope I got that right!)

Cutters catch the disc, stop & establish a pivot, and make a good backhand throw back to the thrower. This teaches good basics, too. (honoring the thrower) No markers needed, as the thrower will have enough work to do.

We were a mid-level club team when we started doing this drill, so we really thought claw catches were important to take our game to the next level. Obviously, claw catches allow you to extend & catch the disc @ earliest point. If this was a youth team, I guess you could teach pancake catches, but I wouldn't recommend it. We were also transitioning to a ho stack offense @ the time, so the disciplined clearing/cutting in lanes was essential.

Chargeorge = Exactly right. hard in cuts, hard clear cuts is key. Staying disciplined, staying in the lanes.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2009, 01:49:20 PM by knappy » Logged

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abstract
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« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2009, 08:41:48 AM »

Let's back up a bit.  It seems like you have 3 large gaps in your team compared to other teams: experience, skill and athleticism.  All three need to be worked on, but don't discount the first one's importance. 

You aren't likely to beat Stuyvesant any time soon unless you can get your players experience.  Whatever leagues NYC offers, your kids should try to participate.  It's too late for this year, but next year your players should try out for some of the local club teams.  Sure, they may not have a chance, but the experience will be good for them.  There is a lot of quality ultimate in the NYC area.  In particular BVH is one of the ultimate minds I most respect.  You need to use that resource to improve the skill of your players.  I coach at a school in Atlanta.  We've been a successful program for a while, dating back to when I played on the team in the late 90s.  Our players start young and have great experiences going to NUTC and playing at YCC then come back and help us succeed.  We are not the most athletic team currently, but experience carries us through tough games to a victory.

The drills you have been give are a great start to improving your team's skill, but I would warn against just taking them and using them.  I'll reference a post on the Strategy/Coaching blog by Kyle Weisbrod http://ultfris.blogspot.com/2009/05/drill-baby-drill.html.  In this article Kyle points out the importance not just of running drills but of running the right drills for your offensive and defensive strategies.  For example running a mushroom drill (endzone swinging) isn't an effective drill for a team that runs a horizontal stack.  First you need to sit down and figure out what type of team strategy you want to go with, then find the drills that teach those strategies.  If you have a team that is all on the same page then you can win games against better teams with poor coaching.

Athleticism is the toughest thing to work on, especially in the high school ranks.  There are often other things that are pulling your players in a million directions that can negatively affect athleticism.  The best thing for you to do is to start young.  It sounds like you need to do this anyway since you will be graduating so many players.  Get players as freshmen and then you have years to work on their athleticism.  During the developmental years of high school you don't want to go crazy with training programs.  These are young boys that can handle a certain amount of physical stress, but that amount varies greatly from person to person.  Focus on strength-to-weight ratio, flexibility and core strength.  No one is going to be a better ultimate player at the high school level by squatting 400 pounds.

Hopefully some of this helps.  Coaching high school is a tough job, so good luck and keep us posted.  Maybe I'll see you at Easters someday.
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SirWatsonII
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« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2009, 01:26:15 AM »

Hm, all this advice has been really great and i intend to update you all on what's been going on as i see this as a work in progress.

First, the drills you all suggested are sweet, particularly the fundamentals one--i intend to use that at the beginning of every practice in addition to a throwing drill which is simply throwing fundamental throws to a partner until i give a nod to take steps back.  That drill is a push pass at 5 feet, a high-release backhand and quick overhead throw (of their choice) at 10 feet, an inside out throw (forehand and backhand) at 15 feet, a hammer (at 20 feet), standard forehands and backhands (at 25 feet), longer range hammers (at 30 feet), longer range forehands and backhands (at 35 feet).  Note that the measurements are estimates, all i say is take 3 steps back after each tier.  I feel this will allow the kids to become familiar with throws that they will find most useful in a game, and at the same time feel a little confident that they have some perhaps circumstantial throws just to boost their confidence.

Anyway, i've been doing a shiite load of research into ultimate tactics for stack offense, man defense, zone offense/defense, and to a smaller extent also end zone plays.  Essentially i've come to this resolution:

We will be using the University of Virginia Ho-Stack offense.  I don't know if its a common one, but its different from what i was taught.  It involves a middle cutter cutting in and the other middle cutter cutting out.  If there is no pass, the one who cut in clears to a side position, the one who cut out cuts all the way in, and the side position that the cutter cleared to then cuts out.  It's beautiful and very simple.  If you all know this offense please leave any advice you can.

That stack will be run to within 15 yards or so of the end zone, where we will then convert to a vert stack and run end zone plays to drive it home.

For man defense we're trying to get physical despite our lack of size.  The idea is to simply act bigger than we are and hopefully that will make up for the difference.  Thankfully we have a truly athletic player on our team (our experienced and extremely talented handler) who will be able to assume the role of guarding their best man.  NOW HERE's IS MY Question, I want to force middle as I hear this makes the huck very difficult.  If this is not the case, what does make the huck difficult?  And if nothing does, i intend to simply force forehand through and through.  The mentality is "10-second defense."  If everyone plays with tremendous intensity in 10-second allotments a handler will stall out or be forced to throw a horrible pass.  The man defense scares me more than any other.

For zone offense we're gonna go with 2 handlers, 2 poachers, 2 wings, and a deep.  Essentially the handlers occupy the cup while the wings keep the zone wings occupied.  This leaves a double team on the short deep and the handlers find the open man, he then turns and runs a fast break.  Have you seen this zone break?  Thoughts?

For zone defense we're gonna use a 3-3-1 (the 3 wings includes the short deep).  the cup will try and force to a sideline and then we will almost ALWAYS spring a trap to try and force a stall out.

Now, as for our 3 large gaps--experience, skill, and athelticism, let us take them in turn.  Experience there is no time to fix.  I want to win this year.  There are 17 kids on the team graduating, i dont have time to breed a good team from youth, i need fast results and my greatest flaw will always be experience.  Skill is going to be beaten into them through drilling.  Fundamentals combined with a complex understanding of game mechanics.  If i can have the smartest players on the field coupled with the players possessing the most focus then i think we can win some games.  Finally, athelticism is hard to come by.  I am gonna run the boys on two 12 week conditioning and strength training programs before the season starts.  Now, its a tough semester for them so I am gonna make these optional so i dont kill them or lower team morale, but for those who come it will be very rewarding.

If there's one thing other than dedication i bring to the team's table, its an understanding of how to train a body for sports.  I played basketball myself and plan to use a similar workout program only with more track (as ultimate has MUCH more running)

Thanks so much for the help so far but it would mean even more of the world to me if i continued to get the great feedback ive been getting so far, especially now that ive provided specifics in addition to a general game plan.
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