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.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Practice Rumblings.. what really frustrates me..


I try to keep this site geared towards the game in Canada, rather than about myself. However, I'm going to let off a rant off . Here goes:

People don't use practice to its full advantage.

Ottawa has an excellent men's league set up this winter. We're getting lots of great scrimmage in, and we're running great drills. But constantly (including players outside of Ottawa I've played with and watched), I see players who don't approach practice in a way that can translate into game success.

Unknown Ottawa Girl
Photographer: Alan Pieroway

  • When you're running a drill, you run it like a game situation. Thus, you don't cheat in the drill in a way that wouldn't work in a real game.
  • Technique is F-ing important.
  • You should not measure a play being good/bad based on the outcome of the play solely. It's really the decision involved AND the execution. If you keep throwing the same bad break throw to someone's shoetops, but it gets caught, it doesn't mean you're onto a great strategy. Conversely, if you make the right play but fail in the execution, that doesn't mean you should limit yourself.
  • There is a difference between running a play/drill right and wrong.
  • I amazed at the amount of times people run drills like robots. Look/Adjust to your throwers/receivers..
  • Those warm-up throws are going to affect your game throws..
Good practice can make perfect. $hitty practice makes less than perfect.