National Character

by | August 14, 2013, 6:00am 0

I’m sorry I’ve been gone, there are some big changes coming to Win the Fields (see below) that needed sorting out.  In the meantime, I’ll have some odds and ends for the next few weeks.

It was awesome to get to watch the U-23 and World Games; the viewing highlight might have been running the NexGen and IamUltimate streams on simultaneous split screens.  I was struck by how similarly National teams played across different divisions; Team Japan looked like Team Japan whether it was U23 Mixed or World Games.  Ditto for Canada, the US, Colombia…

Below is my assessment of national character and a rating for each of the six World Games nations.


The Americans are the most vanilla of teams, relying on superior talent and superior depth.  There isn’t much sneaky or surprising or even weird about what the Americans are doing; they’re just playing basic ultimate better than everyone else.

Rating: A.  They’ve chosen a strategy that fits their personnel.  There’s no need to be tricky if you’ve got the horses.


Priority number one is mean, nasty (mostly man-to-man) defense from every player.  Offensively, the plan is to get the foot soldiers out of the way of stars and let them work.  Big spaces and big throws.

Rating: B.  This is a great strategy for making a lot of mileage out of a small talent pool.  Canada’s current difficulties are that their current stars are not up to the stature of Lugsdin, Grant, Cruikshank and Calder.  Still, their execution is excellent.


The Hayate has come to (intentionally) characterize Japanese ultimate.  Lots and lots of short, quick throws into crowded spaces.  Defensively, lots of sagging and help defense, particularly around the disc.  This defense doesn’t generate much pressure, but it does challenge the opposition to be patient and technically sound.

Rating: B-.  There are too many passes that don’t generate easy progress.  Their defensive strategy isn’t great at creating blocks.  For a team whose express goal is winning gold, they will likely have to climb down off of this particular hill in order to get to the top of the mountain.


Creative and athletic.  Colombia has a lot of success throwing the things you think they won’t. They are rapidly gaining in sophistication, too.  Their World Games work showed a growth and maturity that had been lacking in their previous work.

Rating: B+.  The challenge moving forward will be to harness their creativity – to trim the unproductive aspects of it without losing the brilliance.


Hard running and versatile.  It is tricky to key in on any one aspect of their game because everyone does everything.  They throw more mid-range (20-30 yard) passes than anyone else.

Rating: B+.  They are cohesive and use their personnel well.  A tighter plan in endzone offense would make a big difference.

Special note: Tom Rogacki is Top 5 all time.  If he’d played in North America, we’d all know his name.

Great Britain

A bit one dimensional – huck it to the big guys.  It works because they’ve got some excellent big guys, but it isn’t high enough percentage or sophisticated enough to beat the top teams.

Rating: C.  The limits of this strategy were brutally revealed in Cali.  The problem with being a one-trick pony is that some games need a different trick.

Burruss Love

Starting in a month or so, the weekly Win the Fields blog post is going to transition to an advice/Q&A column.  You will still see big opinion/news features ala last winter’s NexGen stories, but they will run separately.  There is no particular type of question I am looking for – I’ll take technique, tactics, strategy, leadership, culture…anything, really.  So send me your questions, I’ll answer them.  Email winthefields@skydmagazine.comUpdate: This email account isn’t set up yet.  For right now, send questions to

Also, I am looking for a copy or upload of the 1997 World Club finals between Double and Sockeye.  If you’ve got one, I’ll owe you.

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