Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Huddle is Fantastic...Here comes the BUT


The Huddle online magazine is great for ultimate. Both in terms of quality and quantity of ultimate frisbee content.

One recent issue/theme was about role players. As a role player, this seems like yet another great issue idea.

Despite the fact that all of the authors are anything but role players in ultimate, I once again find the articles very good reads. They throw in some conventional wisdoms and the odd cliche, but generally their experiences in ultimate let them shed some tips that the readers (who want to improve in the game and want to hear from those that excel on the field) covet.

One of these articles got posted on my local leagues open forum. Charles Reznikoff's 'What Is A Role Player?' drew praise from a local aspiring player. Indeed, it is a good article, but for one major sentence that irked me.

One of my first captains saw me working tirelessly to fix my weaknesses. "Don't do that," he said. "Spend 70% of your energy improving your strengths." He was right. I'll never win a game jumping.

Huh? Let me get this straight. You're going to suggest to all aspiring players out there to ignore their own weaknesses and focus more on what you're already strong at.

This might work in baseball, where a player can focus on their offence or on their defence. Pitchers work more on their pitches However, ultimate is a HIGHLY organic game, where players have to do everything in order to play a point. You can't just play offence or defence. You can't just mark or jump.

There is a lot of good stuff to take from this article. However, if you're imparting advice or trying to determine how your team can improve its fate and the individual fate of its players, I want (as a guy that humbly tries to geek it up in the sport econ , sabrmetric and sport intelligence realms) to remind you of this:

  • A sample size of you or your team isn't necessarily good enough to summarize what works and what doesn't
In similar organic sports (hockey, basketball etc) many people try to find the link between winning and certain parts of the game (in our case, hucks, blocks, marks, you name it). What it really comes down to is this: The only statistically significant factor in winning at such games is to score more than the other team does, and your overall efficiency at playing the game and all of ts components is the key.

So please, get your role players to work on their weaknesses more than 30% of their practice time. Keep reading the huddle and listening to the stars, but remember to take their tips with a grain of salt.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The GAIA Close OUT Sale


It is unlikely, but if you haven't heard, I have some very sad news to report. As reported on this site, GAIA is going out of business and having a clear out sale of all gear.

Regrettably, I think I have missed out on an item that I always wanted - A GAIA ultimate bag. Always wanted one and put it off due to price. I definitely purchased many a jersey, cleat and hat from the company, but held off on the one item people seemed to love having.

Do you have an GAIA regrets? Was there an item you always wanted and didn't get? Or, did you experience cognitive dissonance from buying a GAIA product that didn't last, didn't feel right or didn't live up to the price paid?