Coaching Consultation Models

by | December 2, 2015, 8:00am 10

In June of this year, I posted a short note indicating that I’d start video consulting for teams or players who wanted it. I’ve finished the set of consulting jobs that resulted from that post, so this seems like an appropriate time to feed back some of the data I’ve gathered to the community. While this is probably not interesting to most players or coaches, I hope that the small slice for whom this is interesting are able to make use of this data.

19 different potential jobs were discussed, of which I quoted a price for 18 of them (one job I referred to another coach who could work in person, and I’ve heard that it went very well). Of these, 11 accepted the quoted price and I completed the job. The accepted quotes were to five individuals (concerned with reviewing and coaching their own play) and six teams (where the focus was on team-wide strategy and tactics, but still with some review of individual players).

The jobs came from a wide variety of player and team types. Teams ranged from local club teams trying to qualify for Regionals for the first time to internationally-known club teams with goals of medaling at Worlds or the USAU Championships. Individuals ranged from new players on small, uncoached teams to players on established, USAU-qualifying contenders that were looking for a different viewpoint.

The technology was extremely easy. Between YouTube and PayPal, there is virtually no overhead or learning curve beyond the coaching itself. Video was made from a variety of angles and qualities, and it was all usable. My written feedback for these jobs varied from 3-4 pages up to 20-25 pages of text (a bit more than 5,000 words after boiling out everything the best and most important stuff).

The range of quotes was from $100-400, and I was open about charging more for established organizations and individuals with a steady job (compared to college teams and individuals for whom money was more of an issue. The highest quotes were all accepted, and 3 out of 11 voluntarily overpaid. The smaller quotes were much more likely to go unaccepted (mostly from college teams).

Was this work worth it to the teams and individuals who paid? Great question. It’s hard to get good, honest feedback on a consulting job like this. If I were a big business, I would definitely want to bring in an external evaluator. If anyone were interested in doing a little independent research, then I’d be happy to forward an anonymous survey to these clients. The short answer, though, is that I suspect that they were pleased but I truly don’t know.

Because this was a trial run, I tried to keep quoted costs down wherever possible. If I were going to do this again, I’d raise prices overall: It’s just a lot of work to do. I think a sustainable level for this kind of work would be something like:

  • $150-200: Short, individual reviews based on 1-2 games worth of film
  • $300-400: Single-team reviews based on 1-3 games worth of film (appropriate for a college or developing club team)
  • $600-700: Single-team in-depth reviews for very competitive teams that are looking for specific tactical advantages on high-level opponents

Obviously, that is a lot of money. I think that there is a market here where good coaches and ambitious players can find each other at a price that makes everyone happy. That market is likely larger and more varied than I could possibly monopolize, so I hope that interested coaches and players do consider this option when looking for creative ways to improve.

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  • Gus

    Thanks very much for the update. Would you consider sharing with the community a sample of the written feedback you gave, maybe by taking one of the shorter reviews and removing the identifying information? This could serve as a model for other coaches who, as you suggest, might try to offer a similar service, and as marketing for yourself to curious potential customers.

  • ben

    Hi guys,
    I’ve got no problem with this; no secrets here and I am happy to let it serve as an imperfect model.
    The consultations I’ve written are written for that person only, so I don’t want to post anything without their permission. One of these players, though, is likely to post their review here (perhaps sometime today). Let me know if you have questions.
    -Ben

    • Gus

      Thanks, will look forward to seeing that player’s review!

  • ben

    And, apologies, ‘Gus’ autocorrected to ‘Guys’.

  • Victor

    I would love to share what Ben sent to me.

    Not sure what the best would be tho

  • Victor

    As I said a day ago, here is what Ben sent me. I sent him some video footage of games played here in Brazil and asked him to analyse my game individually. I first wanted to ask for a team analysis but a lot of our core players were missing and we started going through a rebulding proccess, so it just made more sense this way. A little background, I play for about 4 years here in Brazil, where level of play is not very high and very few people playing. Hope you enjoy and that it proves to be useful.

    I was originally coming at this from the angle of “how do you
    improve to continue up the ladder in the games that you are playing”.
    After watching the first half-game, though, I switched my thinking. You
    are clearly one of (if not the) best player in these games, so improving
    your own game could go down another avenue. My major question now is
    not how you can win more games, but rather: If you joined a high-level
    team, what would you want to change to be ready to play meaningfully
    with a newer, better squad?

    I’m going to
    separate my thoughts into 4 areas: individual offense, team offense,
    team defense, and individual defense. For each, I have a LOT of ideas,
    but I went through and charted them all out. Then I selected those ideas
    that came up repeatedly across multiple games. What I am writing out
    here are the 2-3 aspects for each category that I think are the most
    important. In all of them, I am focused only on you as a player.
    Naturally, I am focusing on areas for improvement here, and I am not
    doing justice in this single review to all of the things that you do
    well. If you want someone to list your strengths, you wouldn’t have
    hired me. This is intended to be a very critical review, so I hope that
    is useful for you.

    Alright, let’s begin.

    Individual offense:
    1) Forehand hitch
    You
    have a problematic hitch in your forehand. Before each throw, you dip
    the disc into a new throwing position and then release. This slows your
    release, but more importantly makes more obvious that you are going to
    throw your forehand about a third of a second before an average player
    makes this obvious. You shy away from throwing downfield flat forehands,
    and I think this is why: nearby defenders can see it coming earlier
    than you think. Speed your release by practicing throwing forehands with
    your back and the back edge of the disc against a wall. Only go
    foreward with the disc. No hitching! If a tennis player hit a forehand
    the way you throw it, they would need to bring the racket all the way in
    front of them before they brought it behind. This is too slow and too
    telling against great defenders.

    2) Seeing multiple defenders, especially deep.
    You
    throw deep well, but you drop your head and look at the ground while
    throwing. This gives power, but it makes it impossible for you to see
    the deep defender coming from another part of the field. They are the
    defender that you really need to beat, and instead throw to the poached
    player. Keep eyes up while you wind up. After your player starts to come
    free, soften your focus so that you see other defenders. Your body will
    lock onto the receiver you are targeting, so you need to consciously
    make sure you are looking elsewhere. This is like coming around a
    defender towards the goal and shifting your peripheral vision to the
    goalkeeper.

    3) The first three steps after you are looked off
    When
    your teammate does not throw to you on a cut, you typically jog 3-4
    steps in the same direction with your eyes away from the thrower.
    Against a good defender, this is the best possible time to change
    direction and get the disc: they had to track the thrower and increase
    their speed, so they will have the hardest possible time staying with
    you. You want to be the player that reacts first to the disc
    being thrown or not. Right now, you use that time to let your speed
    decrease gradually. By changing directions quickly, you will also find
    that you clear the best possible spaces for another cut. This is
    especially true on deep cuts; right now, you continue going further away
    well after you know that the disc is not coming. This gives your
    defender a chance to scan the field. On a better team, your teammates
    will be hollering for you to adjust because your defender is playing
    center against everyone else for that period of time.

    4) Fakes with the disc
    You
    should fake as small as it takes to convince the person that you are
    throwing. If you are faking the marker, this is really only 6 inches or
    so. Fakes intended to fool a downfield defender must be much bigger.
    When you are trying to move downfield defenders you do this very well,
    but when you are faking against the cup players in a zone you tend to
    over-fake. Putting the disc over their head or shoulders slows your
    release and doesn’t move them any more than faking 6 inches. Keep those
    fakes compact!

    Team offense:
    1) Cutting for handler space (and endzone offense)
    Your give-and-go cuts are extremely quick and balanced. Love it.
    You
    should use these when you see space. Right now, you are cutting when
    you want the disc, not when there is the best opportunity for the cut.
    When you make a mistake like a turnover, I usually see you making more
    of these cuts afterwards as a way to make up for that mistake. The
    downside of this is that when you are not open, your handler cut forces
    the thrower to throw tighter, backwards throws instead of using the
    field. Your goal should be being open on 80% of your handler cuts, and
    receiving the disc 60% or more of the time. If you aren’t, you are
    cutting into closed spaces that you should leave open.
    Lastly,
    your cut target should be at least 2-3 meters from the thrower. You cut
    extremely close to your thrower. This takes away any other option that
    they have (so they MUST throw to you, even if other options are better
    for more distance). It also means that when you catch the disc you
    cannot throw on all angles. The previous thrower and their marker
    impinge on your throws. Stay wider, and your entire team will have more
    options.
    Your team
    throws a lot of turnovers in the last ten yards of the field. You
    should be making cuts that get open in these small spaces. You have the
    physical tools, but I think you get caught behind the disc and wanting
    other players to make those cuts. Your downfield players have more
    responsibility when the field is big, but you have the onus when the
    field is small. Be active, and make multiple cuts as needed. In the
    states, the biggest respect goes to goal-scorers against good defenders
    regardless of how many deep throws they catch.

    2) Throwing the first throw
    This is the most important thing I have to say: You
    almost never throw to the first open person. I don’t know if this is
    intentional or if you are just being calm and keeping your balance, but
    the disc STOPS when it gets to you, even if there is someone else
    immediately and easily open. You need to make this throw.
    I
    think you do this to create offense. You want to see the field and make
    a big, goal-producing or zone-breaking throw. But you need to balance
    your game. Half of all of your touches should be ’team’ touches: Throw
    the disc where the team needs it to go first. If you are a zone handler,
    it should be even more of your touches just doing the team movement
    from side to side. If you want to break the zone, go to a wing…but even
    then, only 50% of your touches should look for individually creative
    offense. You are playing each touch like an attacking midfielder in
    soccer; hold the ball and hit that Pirlo pass that unlocks the defense.
    But in Ultimate, you have to be Neymar and Dunga in the same point. And
    Dunga moves the disc to the obvious open person quickly, smoothly, and
    making them able to develop offense without pressure. Your goal should
    be 50% simple touches with the disc leaving before Stall 2. If you do
    that, your change-of-pace touches will be move effective and your
    teammates will each see less pressure and more avenues for easy space.

    Team defense:
    1) Deep positioning
    One
    sign of a great deep in a zone is that you can always hear them on the
    video. You play deep right now as if you want the offense to huck to the
    last person so that you can block it. This is a great way to play…for a
    Wing! For deep, the defense needs a conservative position far enough
    behind the last offensive player that you can guide everyone else by
    talking to them. Tell them where players are. Each time you do this,
    they can shift position and make your ‘zone’ more like a ‘person D where
    nobody needs to run’. This will eventually lead to more Stall 9 throws
    that you can eat up as the deep. Talk!

    2) Middle positioning
    I
    love how you stay balanced and see the field behind you. It takes us
    years to develop Sockeye and Riot players that do this as fluidly as you
    do. My suggestion here is that when you get stuck in 1v2 situations
    that you move towards the disc to shut down angles (like a keeper coming
    to stop two players). Attack towards the disc. Right now, you react to
    tough situations by backing up…which helps to recover but not to stop.
    Try to prevent those with small rushes forward and then retreating while
    looking over your shoulders (which you already do very well).

    3) First step
    You
    can be even more efficient in any defense by being the first step on
    the field. Whenever the disc moves, especially from player A to B while
    you are guarding player G, you should make a small step in the direction
    that the disc moves. Rely less on your overall speed when the disc is
    in the air: This advantage will go away on teams that play against
    better opponents and it will be gone entirely in defensive schemes that
    call for more pressure. If you want to be a versatile defender that can
    fit into many modes of playing, then the first step after every throw
    (while the disc is still within 3 feet of the thrower’s hand) is the
    most crucial.

    Individual defense:
    1) Winning discs in the air
    You
    win a lot of discs, but you almost always win them by speed and
    avoiding an aerial challenge completely. This is a skill that you need
    to work on to play against players with your speed. Play 1v1 ‘flyers up’
    with tall players. Be ready to jump even if bumped. Catch with your
    left hand! When you were in 1v1 situations in the air, you looked a bit
    awkward like you would rather have had the throw just throw it farther
    in front. That works great until you find other fast players, and you
    will absolutely find many players that are faster than you….or just more
    throws that lead to contests in the air. Nobody gets good at these
    without lots of 1v1 practice. Even 1v1 against shorter players will
    teach you jumping D and O without fouling (which is also important).
    LMake this a part of your practices! Like rebounding, it is not a
    natural thing to be good at but is useful in every single game.

    2) Giving space, and taking it away
    This is my most important defensive point; I
    didn’t get to see much person D, since that isn’t something that your
    team does often. When you do, I see you as very capable at speed but
    reluctant to move quickly to your person. Whenever the disc moves, take
    two small steps towards your person. This will help to maintain the
    force position and will help your other teammates know that they do not
    need to help onto your player. When you do play person D, you will
    always take the best player on the other team. Removing them from the
    equation entirely is MORE valuable than getting a block or two but
    otherwise letting them do what they want. Remember that their team is
    relying on them not just to score but to save them from bad situations.
    You can prevent them from bailing out their teammates. The results will
    be less blocks for you, but more blocks for everyone. When you give too
    much space, they often catch the disc and keep the team moving. When you
    take away space early, you have the potential to be an incredibly
    valuable shutdown defender…this is the kind of skill that will translate
    into any team in the world. You did this exactly one time in all of the
    footage that I watched, and it made my heart sing (at 7:07 in the NGF
    game) where you prevented their best player from touching the disc and
    then simply took the disc away on their bail-out stall 9 throw. That is
    big league D.

    I hope something here is useful
    to you. I’ve very much enjoyed watching you in action, and I am exciting
    to see what you decide to do with this advice. This is exactly what I
    would tell you if you were trying out for Sockeye this year, so I hope
    my sincerity is evident. I hope we can meet on a field sometime soon.

    All my best,
    Ben

    • Silas

      Is there any way we can get links to the video?

    • pancakemouse

      Wow. This advice is worth its weight in gold. I <3 Ben.

    • Gus

      Just came back here and read this. Thanks for posting, Victor, and thanks to Ben for the great work. Although the feedback is obviously specific to Victor’s game, the way you frame it in terms of overall development goals, use metaphors, and balance specific moments with generalizing up is a great model for giving feedback well and I learned from reading it. Thanks!