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Experience Matters

Let’s compare two similar players with the same quantifiable skills and dimensions.  One of the intangible differentiators is experience.  We’ve all seen those tall, fast kids who are always open at the wrong place or wrong time… or the squad of youngsters who can’t keep from throwing into the lazy old guys’ poaches.  We often chalk this up to a lack of experience.  Well, I’ve been working on a definition for this type of experience.  You can let me know what you think.

  1. Experience is knowing where to look
  2. Knowing what you’re looking for.
  3. Recognizing what you see.
  4. Knowing what to do.
  5. Doing it.

Now this process gets smoother, faster, and more reflexive with time and “dedicated practice.”  Spotting a poacher in your peripheral vision starting to peek over her shoulder and lean toward the lane as you’re winding up is like a chess master recognizing patterns on a board.

However, the development process can be sped up.  The amazing thing is that the impediment to player development in ultimate comes often in step 1.  They’re just looking the wrong direction, and that should be the easiest part.  Blame it on a lack of coaching.

So a few quick examples i see ALL the time:

Zone – break containment:  You’re in the cup and you have the disc trapped.  They get off a dump and swing.  The zone’s goal here is to contain down field yardage and reset itself.  Too often the cup players are running across the field watching the disc.  If you’re the first cup player across, you should be looking across and behind you to pick up the threats.  I call this looking behind you “checking (over) your shoulder”.  As your running, you can see almost the entire field and there are seldom more than 3 down field threats down field in this situation.  See what your down field defenders are taking out, communicate with words and pointing, and match up.  Once you’ve contained, you can reset your zone.

It’s called “flex and contain.”  When your zone is trapping, you’re packing your defenders in.  When the trap gets broken, you need to “flex” by expanding the defense, scrambling to contain threats, and then reset.  And the only way to “flex” well is if you’re checking your shoulder to find the threats.  May seem obvious, but I swear I’ve been on nationals level club teams that did not do this even close to consistently.

Ok, I’ve written more than i expected.  2 more examples to come.

From Brian Lo’s ultimate frisbee blog:

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