Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sectionals 2k9

This past weekend, Mischief played in the Northern California Sectionals tournament, our first stop in the fall series. Big thanks go to Chris Doyle for his 2nd year as sectional coordinator and to Gillian for her 2nd year as an awesome TD. We had 17 teams this year in an attempt to pull the size bid to the NW and get 4 bids to nationals this year.

We started out against Lemon Party, a team we've played a couple times in the last few years. We came out looking a little tired, but they couldn't match our athleticism as we outran them to a 13-2 win.

Next up was That's what she Said. This game started out trading points. They were doing a good job hucking on us and we just weren't clicking. I believe the score was 5-5 before we finally broke them on D and went on to take half 7-5. The second half our defense got amped up and we went on a decent run to finish up 13-7.

Our 3rd game was against the team 23 minutes. They were a pickup team created 23 minutes before the bid deadline to try and help get us the size bid. They looked a little tired and were still figuring out how to play together. We took advantage to jump out to a quick lead. We ran away with things to take a 13-2 win.

Our last game was against Butter. I don't really remember much of this game. We ended up winning 13-8. Winning our pool put us with a 9 am semis against Night Train.

Saturday morning, we rolled into Stanford and you could tell we all were fired up. We went into the game and after trading a couple points, we started getting breaks. We pushed our lead out to 11-5 before stepping off the gas a little and letting night train back into the game. We were up 12-9 and then 14-10? I think before they closed to 14-13. Our O got the disc and moved it really well up the field for the score with no turnovers. This gave us a bye and then finals against AIR who had upset CTR in the other semis.

For finals, we came out firing on all cylinders. We jumped out quickly to a 5-1 lead and took half 8-3/4. In the second half we kept the pressure on and took a few more breaks to finish as Sectionals Champions with a 15-7 win. Fist pumping starts now.

Highlights of the weekend included Will's sick handblock on the goal line, Taz's ridiculous huck to Emily who had an even more ridiculous grab, Shwu getting another D on a dude going deep, Christina skying fools, Sunya's layout catch on a sideline, Ryan with a great deep layout D that sadly got called back and many many more.

Many thanks to our injured captain Gizmo for running things and to Kari and Paul for sideline support all weekend.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

CTR is good

CTR played a very good game against Mischief at DUI 2009. Don't worry Mischief nation, there is definitely room for a lot of improvement on our part, and plenty of excuses can be made. We had an uncharacteristic number of unforced errors. We had plenty of drops and throwaways. But the fact is that CTR went from down 3-5 (down 2 breaks) to winning 13-5. They scored on offense and then broke our offense 9 times in a row.

Our defense wasn't great and plenty of folks made mistakes (of course including me). But don't look past CTR's talent. I'd guess that after going down 3-5 they had fewer than 15 turnovers. Maybe fewer than 10. To put that in perspective, we beat D'oh at Nationals despite having just over 20 turnovers, and lost to Shazam in semis having just over 20 turnovers. CTR had undeniably efficient offense.

So, I think we all have to look inside and fix what we can fix personally. Work on fundamentals, find that fire on defense, work on our flow. But at the same time, we need to remember that CTR played an amazingly efficient offensive game and if they can play that well every time this season, they will be the team to beat.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Another fist pump example

Here is a great example of a traditional one handed fist pump after a throw.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Ramping up for 2009

Yes, it's almost March, but as far as Mischief is concerned, 2009 doesn't start until now.

The junta met last Sunday and started the ball rolling for tryouts. An updated schedule for the next 3 months is on the front page of the website. We'll be hosting high-level pickup again this year as soon as we get a handle on fields so stay tuned for that. Woot!

If you want to follow Mischief at tournaments, stay updated through Twitter.

Not much else to say other than that it's time to get the party started and rouse Mischief nation from its winter slumber! Double woot!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Practice under pressure

Start by reading this article about how to avoid choking under pressure:

One of the aspects of doing well under pressure is to practice in pressure situations. In particular, setting up fake high pressure situations so that when the real event occurs, everyone both can handle it and knows he can handle it.

One way to create high pressure situations at practice is to ask the team to focus and play hard. This can work well if everyone is sufficiently motivated, but doesn't work as well as the practice wears on or even through out the season. Putting aside internal motivation (which should be an incredibly high motivator), how else can high pressure situations be created during practices? How can we simulate the pressure from Nationals without playing against another team from Nationals who is just as fired up as we are?

Well, how about keeping statistics and reward those statistics?

A college that had a dominant women's soccer team would track all its players' speed by running sprints at the end of each practice. Every one lined up on one line according to speed, the fastest on one end, the slowest on the other. At the end of each sprint, the order would adjust, with the faster person still at the one end, but the middle runners adjusted according to who crossed the line first. This particular way of running sprints made it easy to see who was faster and slower, as each person was next to others who were close in speed to her. At the end of all of the sprints, the order would be recorded and posted.

The result of the sprints tracking was that the slowest person was incredibly motivated to become faster. The article I read went on to point out that the slowest freshman one year became the fastest sprinter by her senior year, because of the motivation from the sprints.

We could have a similar setup at practice for sprints, sure. It would help motivate those in the middle, and keep those at the fast end honest in moving!

Speed is only one aspect of the game, however. Scrimmages at practice could also be tracked, as the teams are fairly stable after they're declared at practice (and fairly stable through the season as offense teams and defense teams are selected). At the end of practice, keep the team divisions, but make a note of which team won how many scrimmages, maybe even how many points. Keep track of those values and rank the players on how they did, either by points or by scrimmages won.

I don't know that I'd recommend keeping stats on scrimmages the way that game stats are kept at tournaments. That requires a lot more commitment from a non-player.

The trick in tracking statistics, however, is to make sure every player continues to grow and expand upon his skill set. If you're tracking how many turnovers a player made at practice, she's going to stop trying to throw those throws that are *just* beyond her reach. Yet, practice is when you want her trying those throws so that she *can* make them in a game: you want growth at practice, not withdrawal.

Possibly having a non-tracked practice for people to try new positions and throws could also be beneficial.

For this reason, I would strongly argue against tracking "how many turnovers I had at practice." The skills and drills parts of practices don't lend themselves particularly well to statistics, and are opportunities for growth that shouldn't be wasted.

Of course, the true source of pressure in sports comes from actual competition. Heading out to a tournament and experiencing the pressure is a better source than the artificial pressure of tracking scrimmage stats. Just make sure the tournament's level is high enough, and that the team learns at the event, as even a loss is a chance to learn.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Regionals write-up

by Wes Chao

On Saturday, we rolled up to the fields to find that Corvallis, Oregon is not nearly as sunny and warm as San Francisco. Amidst some good-natured grumbling from the Bay Area teams about why we don't have Regionals at home, we warmed up in 40-50 degree weather, leaving footprints in the frost.

We expected our first two pool play games to be fairly easy, and they were. We came out as fired up and on top of our game as any of us can ever remember starting a tournament, and forced 3 turnovers to take a quick 4-0 lead on Night Train from Sacramento. They eventually worked in a score, but our offense couldn't be contained and our defense went back to work, taking half 8-2. We cruised in the second half as much of our sideline was watching the other game in our pool on the next field, looking for scouting information, and closed out the game 15-8.

Having watched some of the other game, we expected our second game to involve some questionable hucking from the other team, and we had also identified a few women who were weak throwers that we could pick on. After some scolding from our captains about losing intensity and focus in the second half of the previous game, we poured it on all game and took it pretty easily, 15-4.

The last game of pool play was against a team of pickups, mostly from Carleton College. We didn't know anything about this team, except that they had blown through their section and there were rumors of some very strong ringers playing with them. Luckily for us, they weren't taking the tournament very seriously and hadn't quite gelled yet, and we made sure to keep on our heads on straight and play them seriously. They seemed disappointed that their good-natured heckling was largely ignored by us (apparently we've gotten a reputation for being less fun-loving as other mixed teams), but we made sure not to let them feel like they had a chance at this game, keeping their ringers unmotivated and off the field. Final score of this one was 15-6 but it could have been a lot closer.

That set up a semi-final game to go against Shazam Remains, the 2007 National Champion and Worlds runner-up. They've lost some personnel since Worlds, but they pretty much owned us all last year, and we'd only barely eked out a 16-14 win in our last meeting in Seattle. As expected, this game was tight; we mostly traded in the first half, with their offense having several quick scores off hucks from mainly two throwers. They broke us on offense to take half 8-6, and did it again on the first point out of half to put us in a 9-6 hole.

For some other teams, things would be looking grim at this point, needing to score 3 times on defense just to get the lead back. But this team is full of heart and fight, and we managed to get a turnover near the opposing end zone. We spotted a mismatch, with one of our fastest cutters being covered by a slower handler, and called a play for him. The Shazam defender committed a pretty egregious foul to stop the cut, and then contested, which only made us more determined. We called the same play, and this time our cutter roasted him to the front cone, caught the goal, and spiked the disc...accidentally hitting one of their players in the chest.

Tempers flared and everyone eventually settled down, but that was the turning point for us. The handler who'd gotten beat had thrown several of their big hucks, and getting beat so badly (twice) took him out of his game -- he didn't play but one or two more points the rest of the way. We also did a better job of forcing their cutters to come underneath, and making them throw more than three or four passes to score gave us multiple chances to get a D. We went on a 9-3 run, and closed out this game 15-12 to earn a trip to the finals, two byes to start the next day, and most importantly, a guaranteed spot at Nationals!

Our coach and captains allow us to celebrate just for a few moments, and then remind us that we aren't satisfied merely to get back to Nationals, but that we should remain motivated to capture the #1 seed. We institute a rule that anyone caught celebrating our win may be summarily tackled, Terry Tate (Office Linebacker)-style.

Sunday comes a little earlier for some of us, who choose to come to the fields to watch some of the 11 am games. Nevertheless, our captains have done a great job keeping everyone focused, and we are there on time and ready to warm up for a finals game against Mental Toss Flycoons, from Montana. Flycoons goes back a long way with us -- we beat them in the game to go in 2005 to earn our first-ever trip to Nationals, they made it the next year, and both teams have been back to The Show ever since. Tall, fast, and athletic, they've been improving steadily over the years, and remind us a lot of ourselves. While some might consider their semifinal win over D'oh an upset, we know we're in for a game.

And what a game it is! Much like yesterday's semi-final, we are down 3 at one point, mostly owing to some great handler movement on their part, followed by pinpoint hucks to monstrously athletic receivers. The points are long, with many turnovers, as both teams are going full-bore on defense, but we battle back, and eventually it is 11-10 Mischief, soft-capped game to 12. We force a bad huck, work it up the field, and a floaty break-side throw goes to captain Mark Smith, who hauls it in despite a broken throwing hand for our first-ever Regionals win!

We're not sure what we'll be seeded at Nationals, but we're pretty confident we will be one of the top four seeds. There've been a lot of upsets this year, and the teams we've played who have qualifed have all been tough, but we've been steadily improving and I think we'll have a good shot if we play up to our potential for the tournament.

We hope to have more good news to report in three weeks -- stay tuned!

A Few Lessons Learned from Regionals 2008

(as interpreted by me)
  • Quiet teams rarely win. Sidelines are so key.
  • Incredible Hulk fists serve many a purpose.
  • Don't spike unless there's amnesty. Or, if you do spike, don't miss the ground.
  • Gu early, Gu often.
  • Believe.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

5% Better Throwing

Remember that throw you turfed in that big game? That throw you "know" you have? What happened?! You warmed the throw up, you practiced the throw all year, and yet there it goes out of bounds. Maybe you got unlucky. Maybe you are 95% with that throw and you happened upon a 1/20 shot of turning it over. I call bullshit.

More likely, you're not practicing the entire situation. All kinds of stuff is different in a game. You're tired. You just caught the disc and are slowing down. The marker is striking and you have to speed up your release and pivot hard. You're throwing to a moving target.

In my opinion, you have to work hard to practice game time situations when you're throwing. Great, you can jack it 70 yards with no mark while throwing from your hip. But can you throw a 70 yard huck in a game with a marker?

These are some things that have helped me improve my throwing percentage in games:

1) Throw off of a fake. Often you'll throw a forehand off of a backhand fake (or vice versa). Do this when you're throwing. Or off a double fake. Practicing different fakes taught me that the backhand-around fake -> IO forehand is a very tough throw and this helped my mark a bit.

2) Pretend you have a mark. This ties into the first point. In particular, if you're working on your around break-mark throw, you may need to practice a different release than your typical outside in throw. Sometimes, you may be stepping slightly backwards to avoid your marker, you may throw it off of an IO fake, or be pivoting from the open side.

3) Throw off of movement. Especially when practicing hucks, I find it helpful to toss the disc in the air, take a few hard steps, catch, and throw immediately. Most of the time when I huck in a game I'm throwing very soon after catching the disc when the marker may be out of position.

4) Throw while tired. During rest time of a track workout is perfect! Get some reps in while your HR is high (like 140-180 bpm or so). This will teach you great focus for those hell points.

5) Picture the throw. Picture exactly how you want the disc to travel and not just where you want to throw it. What arc? What speed? What height? What release point? How fast do you want to get the throw off? All of these factors can be critical in a game and need to be practiced. Picture the throw before you do it, and judge yourself. Don't be satisfied if you hit your target but not your flight path.

When we do focused throwing, challenge yourself to make hard pivots/fakes on the 10th throw of a set. If you mess up, you start over. But that punishment pales in comparison to turning over the disc in a game. Until you're comfortable with 10th pass pressure, how can you be ready to make the throw in a real game?

Vitamin water is crystal meth in a can!

It seems our favorite energy drink is back, but morphed into a familiar mainstream hydration beverage. Personally, I don't think the name "Vitamin water" has as much oomph as "Powerthirst" (only one of these makes me think of a fighter plane made of biceps), but maybe they're saving that for phase 2 of the marketing campaign.

Carrie Underwood Vitamin Water Commercial from Jared Bottom on Vimeo.