Highlight Reel

by | November 13, 2013, 10:10am 0

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Hi Lou,

So I have been watching nationals on both ESPN and Ultiworld, and while ESPN undoubtedly had the better “production qualities” (no surprise there), I kind of liked the camera angle of Ultiworld more.

While watching the finals, I was mostly shown the handlers and their movements, with the downfield cutters coming onto the screen only when they’re already open, so you don’t learn anything about how they had gotten open and if the receiving corps was struggling to get open (meaning there is good defense) or if it was easy for them. So regardless of how much pressure the defense was putting on the offense, you never knew about this and so I found it difficult to assess whether the current offense was just bad, or if it their struggles were a defensive achievement.



Somehow, I overlooked this for my Nationals mailbag; I’m not really sure how because it is a great question.  It remains topical, though, because I am still sorting through the footage from Nationals.  It typically takes me two full views of a piece of footage to start breaking it down and only on the third will I really get the detail I am looking for.  As an example, I’ve been watching the Scandal footage, initially to see how they were playing defense downfield but as I was watching I spotted a couple of other interesting things – their 3-2-2 fsu-style zone and their downfield cutting and spacing.  I didn’t really catch these things until I was mostly through the video, so analysis of them requires going back through and looking at these specific pieces again – it is a lot of rewind and fast forward.

I greatly prefer the Ultiworld footage because it typically holds all fourteen, not just the six or so around the disc.  I am usually doing system-wide analysis when I am watching film and to do this you need to see what is happening downfield.  In the Scandal example above, I  could tell that they were doing something great downfield against Riot and Fury because of how rarely the downfield cutters were getting the disc and the high number of resets Scandal forced, but I couldn’t see how they were doing this: switching? tough man-to-man? great marking/defending synchronization?   Every now and again, ESPN would run a tantalizing end zone shot that had all fourteen, but so rarely.  The all-14 footage is much like the legendary all-22 footage from American football (commentary, example).  The ESPN footage has value, but it is different.  If you are looking for technique around the disc, like marking or throwing moves, the closeness of shots and film quality are excellent.  It is also quite good for reset structures and techniques.

In short, I agree with your assessment,


Dear Lou,

This debate has been bugging me for the longest time, the debate between naturally talented vs hard work. Whenever I watch a game being commentated I always hear the phrases, “So talented” and “a natural” and never know how you are gauged as such. I know that a large portion of naturally talented athletes put in a great deal of effort and that’s what makes them good. I guess the question I’m trying to ask is do you think that such thing as being naturally talented exists in the game of ultimate and can someone with no natural talent be on the same level through sheer hard work?



There is definitely natural talent and if you have none it doesn’t really matter how hard you work, you won’t be that good.  This is grim, sad news for all the would-be Rudy’s out there.   And annoying.  As someone who had just enough talent to get himself in someone else’s poster, no work-ethic silver spooners drove me crazy.

A more rounded way of looking at this is that every level of play from high school, through college and up to elite has a basic entry level of athleticism.  While there are certainly different kinds of athleticism besides speed and height, without that basic level you won’t get your foot in the door.  If you are marginal athletically, the only, only way to survive is to work your ass off.  Every team at Nationals has these players on their roster; typically they are no-name defensive players. Their unrecognized grunt work is what makes a team successful – both Revolver and Scandal are full of these players and more importantly, full of that attitude.

There are very talented players who have a great work ethic – look at Beau’s progress as a thrower – that didn’t just happen – look at Ken Dobyn’s entire career.  The players who have talent and work ethic are the ones who dominate our sport and rack up the hardware to go with their highlight reels.



Questions? winthefields@skydmagazine.com

Feature photo by Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com [Full Nationals Gallery]

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