When Heist received its first bid ever to the US Open, we couldn’t have predicted how successful we would be. Initially, we were a team that was happy that other teams declined the opportunity, allowing us a spot to compete in the US Open. By the end of the tournament, we had transformed into a confident squad that could compete with any of the top teams. The days of losing 15-3 are behind us. We have swagger and confidence to perform in high pressure situations; we scored five straight points to beat Showdown on universe point and broke back with authority to seal the deal against Ozone.
Like many other teams, the Open left us riding an early season tournament high and pushing towards our next tournament. The potential hurdle was in the fact that our next tournament was a month away. How would we capitalize on this momentum and continue to build going into Colorado Cup?
One noticeable difference in our tournament strategy was defensive intensity. We pressured more options and generated more turns than we typically do at this point in the season. We even toyed with defensive adjustments that we had yet to practice and found success. It’s obvious that we’ll work these adjustments and defensive sets into our practice repertoire, but how do we practice that intensity and fire?
In the road trip home from Cincinnati to Madison, I had some great conversations with Margaret Walker (our 16-year-old practice player who played like a rock star at the Open) and her dad Bill, who is still learning the ropes about ultimate strategy. Bill suggested we “change the rules” until a behavior was intentionally mastered by a teammate. That phrase has stuck in my head ever since. Thanks to a guy who claims to still be learning, I have been mulling over this concept of “changing the rules” for days. Here’s my question for you, reader: what are some of the best “defensive-focused” rule changes that you have incorporated into your practices?
Send me an email at email@example.com. In my next column in two weeks, I’ll share your ideas in addition to some of my own.