Saturday, September 20, 2008


Actively work on your damn throws, because your individual grasp of the fundamentals limits what the team can accomplish.


The factor that most indicates the success of a team's season is the average level of throwing ability on the team. This is the biggest facet of a larger picture: to what extent does your team 'buy in' to the fundamentals of your team, and necessarily the sport?

The fundamentals of Ultimate are nothing more than throwing, catching, and defense. Defense is a whole 'nother thing, but throws and catches are absolutely the indicators of the mental and physical commitment of an entire team.

It's easy to ascribe Oregon and Wisconsin, Stanford and Carleton's comparative dominance to their much larger student body and draw towards their legacy of success. In my four years of playing, Reed's weaknesses have been 20% basic athleticism, 20% our offensive and defensive system, and 60% fundamentals.

We've always had a Dylan Levy-Boyd, a Doug Galbraith, a Josh O'Rourke who could dominate most athletes and compete step-for-step with the best of them. Where the Reed program has always fallen behind other teams is in the willingness to hold ourselves to a consistent standard of fundamentals, and then extend this to a disciplined system.

In discussing this post with Fish, he points out correctly that some of the flaws in our system come down to weaknesses in the other areas (throws and athleticism). This is to say, we fall short of running our ideal system because not everyone on the team can make the best throw for the situation, or get open at will.

Commit to an hour of FOCUSED throwing outside of practices, per week.
This means not dropping the disc once. Period. Ditto for throwing before practice. This means no hucking until you've worked on a series of perfect short passes. This means starting a set of reps (40 of both throws, for instance) and keeping your mind on that task until finished. Then fuck around and throw hammers all you like. I'm the last to argue that fucking around with a disc doesn't help you get better, but it doesn't help you get better anywhere near as fast.

*Commit to focusing the instant you get to practice.
Ultimate frisbee is fun. So is getting good exercise, running hard, and learning how to make your body perform. So push yourself as much mentally as you do physically in those two hours you have.

* Demand discipline in O & D systems early in the season from the entire team.
Practice does NOT make perfect-- perfect practice makes perfect. This early in the season you are certainly not there to win scrimmages, or even games at tournaments. You are there to improve, mentally and physically, every damn point you play. If you're not doing that, why are you on the field?

*Demand more of yourself, and give yourself more credit.
As a captain, coach, and fellow player nothing is more exciting than seeing potential in everyone. No one on your team is as good as they can be, and that starts at, yeah, you. Everyone knows to watch their ego, but remember this: never sell yourself short, never give yourself the easy way out that you will (and you WILL!) regret a month or a year later.

*Be a better teammate by talking more.
This extends far past just yelling 'up!' on the sideline. This means, even if you're the quietest shyest freshman, realizing that you have every bit as much stake in the team as anyone else, and taking it upon yourself say a word to congratulate a big play, to pick up a teammate who's having hard day, to encourage someone to do a drill harder and better.

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