Thursday, November 5, 2009

4 on 4 Ultimate- Skill Developer or Bad Habit Generator?


After a long hiatus from indoor ultimate, I signed up with some of my oldest and best ultimate friends for a 4 on 4 indoor ultimate team. I was really unsure about signing up for this, because I've never been a fan of variants of ultimate. Practice makes permanent, and surrounding yourself with indoor people who make bad choices is not good for your game. However, Goaltimate proved me wrong earlier this year, and worst case scenario I was playing with good people.

After my first experience on Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised with the 4 on 4 concept.

4 on 4 is very popular in Quebec (They just had a tournament last weekend), and it allows people to play on smaller surfaces and provides a serious workout. With four players per team on the field, You can't be a lazy handler in this game.

Major Things Quebec has taught us about indoor
  • No breaks between points (sub of the fly, or simply no pulls)
  • Handler movement

In the first half of our game, we looked like a bunch of comp ultimate players trying to figure out the new rules of this game. Personally, I found that the small field was going to change my mindset (outside of hucks, I like to play 100% low risk offence) and forced me to throw more breaks and challenging throws because.. the defence was giving me no option. We were also having a fun time trying to figure out how to game plan defensively (Do we force middle to take away the sneaky blade throws that some teams use indoors? Do we try some sort of junk zone? Please feel free to comment viewers)

In the second half, we started to roll. Maybe we started to adapt, maybe the other team got tired from a very fast paced first half (probably a little from column a, a little from column b). I can tell you it was major fun to make break throws that you wouldn't otherwise think and your cutters wouldn't expect in regular play.

In the end, I think this format of indoor can be a skill developer or a bad habit generator just like any other variant. If you want to practice throws that will work outside and can be used in ultimate, than you're going to improve your skills as a thrower and a cutter. If you want to throw off hand and make throws that the wind will not tolerate, than you're getting into bad habit mode.

I'll probably have to look into a Quebec tournament this winter. We'll see how the season goes.


Teapot said...

Indoor ultimate is definitely one that can build up bad habits. Playing for a couple years now, I've found my self throwing an excessive amount of scoobers, push passes and blades. But with that brings confidence to make these throws in a no wind area, which will translate to the outdoor when those throws need to be used. That being said, it takes a couple weeks for sure to get rid of the bad habits of using them so much once you get back outdoor. As long as one can understand that these throws aren't the best choice with wind, the indoor game is more of a skill builder.

Heck, I owe mostly all of my progress over the past 2 years to indoor ultimate.

T1000 said...

If ultimate happens to be the game you are training for, then the 4-on-4 variant will develop some skills; if played exclusively, it will lead to a decline in others. This comes as no surprise -- every single drill is built on a framework of assumptions, with a particular skillset emphasized over others. This predictable outcome, when applied to physical development, is also the underpinning of the so-called SAID principle.

If you practice your 4-on-4 skills in excess and at the expense of their complements, your expanded ultimate game will tend to suffer. On the bright side, you will become very good at 4-on-4.

Batch said...

"...surrounding yourself with indoor people who make bad choices is not good..."
Maybe you should find better teammates.

I forget all my bad habits from indoor as soon as I throw my first bad hammer.

Sport Management Steven said...

Sometimes you're affected by your opponents too. Batch, you also know that you rarely get to pick your teammates in indoor.

Batch said...

If your point is, you lower the level of your play to that of your opponents, then you can certainly work on improving that in indoor ultimate.

Yes, sometimes it is frustrating when you play a fundamentaly sound indoor game and get beat by a lessor team that throws all hammers all the time. But if you are really using indoor as a training venue for outdoor, then winning is not the goal, and you should be proud of playing a fundamentally sound game. You can live with the fact that that style of game won't beat you when it really matters, outdoors in the summer.

Proper throwing mechanics, keeping the disc moving, improving cardio, team communication are all valuable things that can be worked on effectively indoors.

Finally, the CQU4 tournament series, that you spoke of, is all captain select, no hat teams, so you can pick your teammates. Hat leagues and tournaments are not the spot to develop skills at the upper levels. Players sign up with different goals in mind: meeting new people, improving their game, hanging out with friends, showcasing their own skill, winning as much as possible, etc...

Conclusion; Indoor ultimate is valuable, as long as you know what you want out of it, and where/what format is best suited for your needs.

Daniel said...

Depending on how you approach the indoor game it can be a very good skill developper. It is a great place to work on break force throws and defensive coverage but you need to look past the game results in order for that to be successful. For example, you can throw hammers and scoobers all you want indoors but because of the lack of wind you won't actually improve those throws; if anything you'll get worse because you'll get lazy with your throwing motion. Those throws might let you pick apart an indoor defense but will be useless outdoors for you. On the flip side if you tell yourself that you will throw nothing but step-around backhands all game, you might not have the same completion rate with those throws but once you get outside that throw will be a lot more useful for you.

At the end of the day you can play any crazy little disc sport game that you want and if you want to use it as for skill development you will take something from it.

T1000 said...

I wouldn't deride the use of scoobers or blades (etc.) in 4-on-4 as being unsound. I think many full-field ultimate players fall into bad habits of looking off these throws when we should have used them. At practice just last week, I was kicking myself for choosing an OI backhand over a hammer -- the hammer was the better choice that time, and it would have scored, I have no doubt. That opportunity may arrive less often in full-field ultimate, but it's always best to recognize the right tool for the job.

Indoors, a lack of wind can easily lead to generally laziness in execution in any throw -- it's not restricted to one's upside-down throws. Likewise, the higher rate of turnovers in 4-on-4 can breed a lackadaisical attitude in numerous aspects of the game. But so what? Go ahead and do whatever it takes to win the game; experiment with your options; try strategies you haven't explored before. You'll probably apply a couple of them in a 7-on-7 game one day.

bigbadscottyb said...

Indoor 4 on 4 is a completely different beast from outdoor. It's like comparing apples and oranges. I play a totally different game indoor than I do outdoor. Like previously mentioned, more upside down and high release discs. Once the fields dry out, I shelve the 4 on 4 game.

That being said, indoor 4 on 4 is excellent for skill development. New players can gain confidence in learning basic throws without wind. Vets can develop those scoobers and high releases. You get to try things out before attacking the wind. Cutting and defensive strategies are different, but most fundamentals are the same for throwing, faking, defensive footwork. Poaching won't cut it, the disc can get to the receiver too fast.

Bad habits get exposed the first time playing with some wind. But if a team just beat you with blades all game, you just lost the game, period. You can't make the excuse that if it was outdoor it wouldn't have worked (and hold your head high that you played a fundamental game) - because you aren't outdoor, you're INDOOR so you need to adapt to your environment. Now you have to figure out how to stop blades before the next team does the same to you.

It's like the US basketball team in the Olympics playing international rules, getting called for travels they don't in the NBA. They can't whine "if this was the NBA we wouldn't get called for travelling". They were forced to adapt.

Different game, different strategies, different skills, adapt and have fun with it.

Batch said...

You're right that you can't compare apples to oranges. I agree with almost everything you said.

The only point I have is that I don't have to adapt to the indoor game, like you said, if my goal is not to win as many indoor games as possible, but rather to improve skills that are useful outdoors. If your goal is to win as much as possible, then yes, you will have to adapt and learn to stop the full court hammers.

Daniel said...

Alex, I didn't mean to say that hammers and scoobers are useless outdoors. I meant to say those throws are useless outdoors if you don't know how to throw them properly. I like a good hammer as much as the next person but I didn't learn or improve mine indoors. It didn't take me long to realize that throwing hammers indoors really wasn't all that challenging and as such wasn't actually doing anything to help any aspect of my game.

jhaig said...

I learned how to throw a hammer indoors. I decided one winter to learn to throw one and much to my team mates dissapointment I threw them until they were good. Obviously they are easier to throw indoors then out, but then again so are flicks.

Indoor isn't the same as outdoor, and 4-on-4 isn't the same as 7-on-7; but like Alex mentioned, with any variant or drill you're going to get out of them what you put into them.

There is definitely value in expanding your game beyond what you would normally try with your comp. team outdoors, and games like 4-on-4 and goaltimate are nice because they force you to do that.

Pol said...

Dear Steven, you are welcome to play in a Quebec 4 on 4 tournament this winter! I would be interested in knowing your comments about your experience...

Indeed, we can study its impact on the evolution of one specific player as done in this thread. But you know, to my eye, 4 on 4 ultimate must also be evaluated in a more global aspect. In fact, its existence together with 5 on 5 ultimate (mainly played in Montreal) allow the general sport of Ultimate to be played 12 months a year rather than around 6.

A team needs and wants a complete roster to play a game. The more Ulimate game are being played, the more tournament there are, the more team there are, the more new players are introduced to the general sport of Ultimate in a fixed period of time.

Hence, in Quebec province, I believe that 5 years of development (Outdoor + Indoor) equals to maybe 8, 9 or 10 years of development (Outdoor only).

I have a lot more arguments...

My girlfriend (playing Storm) just told me that Hardest Defense on Handlers is almost useless against the QUB team. Those girls from Quebec city have been playing a lot of 4 on 4 and they know how to break or make that little 4x4 pass that works anyway.

Saying it's a "Bad habit generator" is strange to me. Personnally, I really like the flick-blade indoor. Since the endzone in 4x4 is 3 meters deep, you can't throw something flat because it hangs too high and out of reach into the wall. The flick blade gives it a little angle to allow the disc to go down just above the endzone. But I can't say I was using this throw this summer season because I was able to make a difference between outdoor and indoor. The same applies with wind. You don't throw a disc the same way in the wind vs no wind. You don't throw the disc against the wind vs in the direction of the wind. Somebody must adapt somewhere but I believe human can.