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A good question came out of the comment section on the article Foundations. As a part of critiquing practice methods, I’d put down on scrimmaging as inefficient. This sparked a little back and forth, as well as the following question:
In the case of High School teams where players are new to the game and coaches need to try to maintain freshmen’s interest in the sport, just how much scrimmage is too much/too little? especially in the case of freshmen being totally new to the sport and not really even familiar with the game. and how does that balance with an urge to run more drills to become a better team and win more games?
I have very little personal experience with bringing in new players at the high school level, so I thought I’d pass this one on to someone who has a lot more know-how with this than I do – legendary (and recently retired) Amherst coach Tiina Booth. Here’s her response:
I would suggest putting together some structured scrimmages, which work on skills you want to develop while also giving the new player a sense of the game. We play games to 3 for the majority of our practices, using different variations:
Game to 3 w/ Punishments
Keep track of drops or throwaways or bad decisions. You can also earn back points for good defense, making a throw to reverse the field, or clearing quickly. The criteria depends on the level of your team. Then figure out an appropriate level punishment for either the team or individuals.
Game to 3 Double Score
Your team only scores if you can score twice in a row. After the first score, the person who caught the disc brings it out about 10-15 yards back into the field. After a quick check, the disc is put back into play again. If they score again, they get one point. If the defense prevails, it is now their turn to try to double score.
Game to 3 Hell
Every time the score is tied, the count goes back to 0-0. This version really increases defensive intensity. You may actually only want to play Game to 2 Hell, as this variation can go on and on.
In addition to these scrimmages, I would also suggest taking a close look at your team culture. There are ways to make new players feel included right away, such as making them buddies with a veteran, having someone throw with them away from practice, making yourself available to listen to their questions. Joining any new team and learning a new sport can be intimidating and it takes a concentrated effort by many to make the individual feel welcome.
Thanks, Tiina. I couldn’t agree more with the last point for every team at every level. While this is acutely true for high school and college teams that serve as a social as well as athletic outlet, it is also true for club teams. Too often, they leave their new players to figure everything out on their own and then complain that they ‘just don’t get it.’
I had an email conversation with Bravo and U-23 Men’s coach Bob Krier following up on the post Highlight Reel. Here it is:
Bob: I was wondering what app you’re using to view ultimate videos. I’ve been trying for a while to find a viewing program that allows for easy rewind and fastforward and haven’t found it yet. The controls in youtube/vimeo/espn viewers are too coarse for my (and I assume other ultimate analysts) needs. Just wondering if you have a program you’d recommend. (My current system is to put the video files on my ipad and play through apple tv – so I get to use the apple tv remote for rewinding. But that is still not as precise as I’d like.)
Lou: I don’t have a good system. I’ve been watching in Quicktime, but it is incredibly inexact. I was about to start experimenting with dumping things into iMovie and then cutting out the parts that I wanted, but I’ve no idea how effective that will be. There are online services like hudl, but they’re pretty expensive. The HS football program where I work uses this program, but there are several different sites with slight differences. Last time I checked they were in the $800-$2000 range although there is the possibility of splitting costs across teams – you and Molly for example. Do you mind if I run this as a blog question? Given the general nerd-dom of ultimate players, we might get some good and cheaper suggestions.
Bob: Sure. I feel like lots of people must be struggling with this. I looked at hudl and a few others, but I haven’t had time to do more than a shallow search of possible solutions.
So video and computer nerds – we need help! Any suggestions you have would be great, but cheap and effective ones are particularly appreciated.
Questions? Comments? firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature photo by Christina Schmidt – UltiPhotos.com