Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Worlds 2008 Applications- Are we asking the right questions?


With the exception of juniors, all of our teams that will represent us at the World Championships in 2008 have posted Team Canada Applications.

I really like the concept of adding players throughout the country to help bolster our respective lineups. It gives people throughout the country more of an affinity to Canada's efforts during the tournament. I also think that the decision makers on these teams are very serious about looking at applications. This is refreshing.

I don't pretend that these teams will compose a lineup much different than the ones that represented their cities at the 2007 nationals. However, given the progressive push by the USA, Australia, and Japan, Canadian teams needs to ensure they add players that can offset increased competition.

What are my thoughts on the current application process? I think we have to understand the logistical and financial problems that prevent true tryouts and evaluation. However, I think there are also some current flaws in the flawed process we know use. Let's look at some of the questions asked by the teams in their applications.

Photos Courtesy:
Photographer: Juha Kankaanpää

  • Strengths as a player
    • Outside of personal bias and overestimation, this is pretty good
  • Experience
    • A necessary evil. It might speak more to past glory than current value. It's like when teams play a 32 year old free agent millions for what a player did in his late twenties
  • Current Team
    • Generally, good teams have good players. But, even better players may play on less successful team. You're not picking teams to join your team.
  • References
    • We have built in BS detectors to filter sport references. People usually pick people who will give them a superficial reference in the positive area.
  • Age
    • This is an important one for masters and juniors. Can you make a decision based on age? I see a lot of young players fresh off world juniors who lack the fitness of people in their late twenties and early thirties. You want to give future stalwarts a shot, but many ultimate players don't learn how to train/prevent injury until later on.
  • Height
    • "You can't teach height" (P-Mo)
  • Weight
    • If you're going to go there, why not just ask for a body fat ratio?
    • No fatties!!! Does your weight (within limits) affect your ability to play ultimate
  • Commitment Level/Availability
    • Very good question. The further away you live, the less chance you have. Most teams list their expectations, and they are ambitious.
    • Is being available more important than talent?
  • Role
    • Are players in the right/optimal role currently
    • Can you really peg people in ultimate? The game is pretty organic.
  • Photo
    • This was a random request, by the girls surprisingly.
    • If I think I know you, you have a better shot
    • If you're good looking, you have a better shot
    • I'm sure this could be requested after team selection
  • Top Major Tournament Finishes
    • This speaks to the team. Can't stress this enough.
  • Major Tournament Experiences
    • What's the value of a past worlds/nationals/upas?
    • If you played in many major tourneys, and choked personally in all of them, does that still go down as an asset?
  • Past "Big Game Experience"
    • Playing well 4 years in Helsinki is more valued than being able to play big in 2008?
    • How valuable is experience? If you don't know how it relates to your team's chances and player value, than why ask it?
    • Do we pick experienced players because it's safer?
  • Athletic Ability
    • No discussion/request for 40 times or anything of the like.
    • Like all the other questions, good intentions but...
What to do?

Really no easy way to fix this process. However, with the increase in game film and stats, it will be easier to scout and evaluate potential talent.

Here's an example. Go Big Recruiting is a website dedicated to posting game film of college hopefuls. It has replaced the process of sending many tapes/dvds to schools. Recruiters can instead log in and everyone can view your ability.

Like hockey, Team Canada recruitment will get better after we fail at the international level. From desperation and want comes the need for innovation.


higy said...

I disagree with your statements about experience. All other things being equal, taking the more experienced player will 100% be the right choice.

This is especially true for big games. By being able to demonstrate that you have big game experience, you are showing that you have the commitment, athleticism, determination, (insert appropriate on-field-skills), but most importantly teammanship/off field skills that are not measurable with stats needed to play at a high level.

Sure you may be an absolute stud on a 'crappy' team, but would top teams want to take a risk on such an untested player (ie maybe they would fold under pressure).

Personally, I feel the experience questions are the most important and should be the first ones looked at.

Sport Management Steven said...

Debate is good Higy.

Despite the "100%" claim, it doesn't seem sage to me to pick someone for worlds 2008 based on the player they were in 2004. I also don't think being on a winner/loser team is a full indication of a player's individual talent.

If experience is so heavily weighted. do you bury guys/gals who have bad world experiences in their past?

sharpie said...

I dominate...

That's all you need to know...
Let me know when the limo is coming to get me.

parinella said...

I agree with higy, although probably not to the same extent. There is a quote that you can't be a star until you've tanked your team in a big game.

And how a player played in 2004 is actually predictive of how they will play in 2008, although it's not the only predictor. It's not just pressure, either; Worlds or Nationals or UPAs is the big stage, where everyone is at their best and every game is important and every opponent cares.

It's not everything, but since there usually isn't a ton of verifiable data from very recent history, it has to count for a bunch. It's not like you have a pro sports team with training camps for 8 hours a day for weeks and weeks.

Sport Management Steven said...

I definite appreciate having Jimmy P weigh in on this. Both (Higy and Jimmy) point out some of the better reasons that lead the teams to ask/value experience.

We are limited by the lack of stats and money/time for selection camps. It's balls but desperation yields innovation.

4 years is a long time in a players life. Picking proven winners/players is safe bet, but it doesn't mean you're picking the best players.

Here's a example. In the Master's division, it would be easy to pick a team that is based on 2004 stars. But these players are at least 34-36. How will they do against
younger opponents who have been playing as good/better ultimate? At this age, 4 years can make a big difference.

It can be broken down by position as well. While handlers seem to get better with age, receivers decline at a certain point and experience can only mitigate some of that effect.