Tuesday, April 1, 2008

We're talking bout Tryouts..

Nation,

I've been really sick with the flu since my birthday on the 15th. If anyone has some remedies, send them my way.

Really sorry for the lack of posts, and sorry to my teammates for missing workouts.
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Tryouts are a very important part of the season. It's a chance to bring new talent into a team or system, and it is a time of commitment for all wafflers. I used to dread these things, but now all I want to do is pass the Andy Stewart fitness component of tryouts which threatens to consume us all in Ottawa. :)

A lot of people can't stop talking about tryouts at this time of year. This is the only time in my life I'll paraphrase Allen Iverson:

I mean listen, we're sitting here talking about tryouts, not a game, not a tournament, not a final, but we're talking about tryouts. Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game as if it's my last but we're talking about tryouts man. How silly is that?

Scotty Westwell Helps Mephisto Player get into the Endzone
Photo Source: Ultypics.com and Carl Sharpe

Iverson and I differ greatly on the value of practice. However, we might be able to agree on the overhype of tryouts in ultimate.

To all of you who live in big ultimate cities and go through the big tryout process, I offer these words: Relax! It seems like such a big deal when you are with your ultimate friends, but it's really not.

You'll also get tons of advice for tryouts. "Keep it simple" or "You have to make big plays on defense/offense." The only consistent theme will be the inconsistency. Do I try to make big plays, or do I try to do the little things?

You'll either fit into a role or a need, or you won't.

And to those of you who can play for any team and have your spots locked up, well done. But I'd like to challenge those players to be better than what they currently are. It's so easy for the best player on a team to stop setting benchmarks and pushing further. You can get away with it because you're better than your team, and they don't want to lose you. I don't care what your entourage of hype says, there isn't a player in Ultimate who couldn't be better at the game or as an athlete. Don't wait until a major injury to find out how vulnerable your "untouchable" status is.

4 comments:

Kijar said...
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jhaig said...

I think I disagree, try-outs are a big deal especially if you're not a returning player.

I've certainly felt the stress of trying to make a new team enough times to know how much of an impact there can be between being the last guy to make the team and being the last guy cut. You even have to feel stressed a bit returning to your team for another year if there are new players with talent and experience coming out to try-outs. (for example this year in Ottawa open. 2005, was a tough try-out year for returning guys too)

All winter players are pushing themselves with their training to make sure they are the best they can be come try-outs so you'd expect them to worry about try-outs a fair bit. It's not quite the same as the effort and emphasis you put on nationals or whatever your big end of year tournament is, but you are still working out and training for 4 to 6 months to try and perform well for one week of scrimmages and drills.


As far as try-out advice goes I would say the best 3 ways to get noticed in a positive way are:

1. Try hard and be competitive at everything. Run each drill with the goal of dominating your opponent, play the scrimmage with the goal of winning and dominating your guy. Everyone loves hard work and hustle, no one likes a slacker.

2. Don't make mistakes. Bad turn overs and weak defense will get noticed. But on the flip side consistent turn over free offense and hard nosed silent D also get noticed.

3. Make some big plays. I hate to say it but big plays get noticed. I've definitely made a team over players who were better then me because of a couple big plays I made at tryouts.

Number 2 and 3 are a bit contradictory; suggesting you should both be making big splashy plays as well as playing within yourself. The key is knowing when to be conservative and when to go big.
As a general rule know your throws and don't throw what you don't have. Selection committees want to see what you've got so show them your stuff, but don't make turn overs trying hard breaks or big hucks. Throwing 4 huge hucks in the scrimmage but only completing 1 won't do you any favours. Defensively don't let yourself get beat at really fundamental things. This would be giving up breaks because of a lazy or complacent mark, or giving up ins to the force side.

The key is to make big plays at smart times when it won't burn you. Once the disc goes up and you're on O or D, there is nothing to lose by trying something ridiculous you have no business making. Worst case you make a bid and miss which will be seen as hustle and effort (see point 1) best case you make that "are you kidding me play" which will help. The key is to play very aggressive without the disc making hard assertive cuts and playing no holds barred abuse your body defense while playing relatively conservative once you get the disc. Offensive flow at try-out scrimmages sucks, the last guy you want to be is the guy always throwing it away when there is a misscomunication and someone stops their cut early.

Work hard to always be that guy getting open to the force side, but once you get the disc look to move it quickly up field or bail almost immediately and get back up field to burn your guy again.

Sport Management Steven said...

I agree that one must put in a solid efforts at tryouts. However, all the hard work for tryouts is done well in advance for both the team (information, selling the team, drawing players in) and the individual players.

I still shudder to think that people spend more emotional and physical energy on tryouts than on what matters most- Nationals and UPAs.

And as much as I think Haig's advice is solid, I think ultimate evaluators (basing their opinions on what they see and what they fail to see) can still miss on players doing everything right and wrong.

In fact, I saw a very fast player make an Ottawa A team (for the first time) in a very tough 2005 tryout year. I was in their group, and was pretty amazed that they made the team. Why? Because this person slacked at every chance, sitting out an entire drill. This person has continued to dazzle at times (speed) and disappoint when it counts.

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