Links and Thoughts

by | April 24, 2012, 9:32am 0

Link dump time! Here are a couple of articles that I’ve been sitting on for a while that I think are worth sharing:

Dan Devine at the Sloan Sports Conference 

This was written during the Sloan Sports Conference back in March and it touches on quite a bit of analytics-oriented research that was presented. The project that stood out most to me was Michigan State professor Kirk Goldsberry’s CourtVision, wherein he mapped out a basketball court, plotted over 700,000 shots, and took a look at who took them, from where, and what the outcome. The result was “Shooting Range,” a stat for measuring “how effective a player is at producing points from the greatest number of different spots on the court.” (Spoiler alert: Dirk has a pretty good Shooting Range from the right baseline.)

It’d take a pretty big bankroll, but imagine if we had this kind of measurement for ultimate! In practice, coaches and captains could look at where their players’ strong and weak points on the field were and drill accordingly. In games, we could apply the same knowledge of our opponents and draw up schemes to force them to into certain areas on the field.

Are the best players the ones that throw lots of scores from the brick, midfield, and on the endzone line, or are they the guys that never turn it over on the sideline or endzone line? And where do you factor in for the distance of throws travelled, like if you rarely throw hucks or goals but are the motor for your team’s offense? The possibilities are endless, but they’re certainly fun to think about.

Dean Oliver’s Four Factors 

Dean Oliver is a basketball stats god who says that winning basketball games comes down to the following four factors, giving a percentage to their relative importance: shooting (40%), turnovers (25%), rebounding (20%), free throws (15%)

I absolutely love this kind of thinking. For me, it’s part of breaking ultimate down so that it goes from a complicated finished product (an analogy I used with my high school team this weekend was a gourmet pizza) to a group of smaller, more manageable actions (the ingredients and the steps in the cooking process).

I’m a big believer that ultimate games are won with strong sideline and endzone performance, but I’d love to hear other ideas on ultimate’s “Four Factors.” Dump defense? The deep game? Maybe something like throws, unforced turnovers, forced turnovers, and resets?


This blog is awesome. I like the international perspective on team and skill development. Re: “The Throw that the Good Players are Using,” I think it’s less about the particular throw, in this case a backhand with a forehand stance, and more about having a about familiarity with the disc that allows you to be dangerous from another stance and release point.

And it’s random, but for hockey fans out there, here’s another article with an international flavor.

Ultimate Glory

Elliot posted this in Dumps a while ago, and I just got around to reading it. Well worth it, and wish I had read it sooner. The author gives an excellent account of his own obsession with ultimate while also schooling us on a bit of ultimate history. Given all of this talk about how ultimate is advancing, it’s nice to take a moment to remember where it came from.


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