Sunday, January 14

Down Goes Tomlinson

Rest day today.

After the pain of watching the Eagles lose last night, it was a welcome distraction to watch two games that I had no real personal interest in, other than I like watching Tomlinson run. Great Pats/Chargers game, entertaining, though not as high quality, Bears/SHawks game.

The way that Tomlinson moves on the field seems to say that he knows where all 21 other players are in relation to his own position and how they will react to what he does next. It is as though he has enough different ways to beat the first defender that he gets to choose the one that will negatively affect the other 10 defenders the most. Sometimes that means a juke in one direction, sometimes just an acceleration, sometimes he lets them get his hands on him, sometimes he takes the first hit to minimize the loss (the one thing that Barry Sanders never did), and so forth.

To apply this strategy to ultimate, it seems the best analogy is to the thrower. Your fakes, pivots, and prior decisions affect not only the marker, but how the downfield players cover their men. If you can hit an open man on the breakside with a variety of complimentary throws, then you can prey on the choices of the second (downfield) defender instead the first (marker) defender. If you extend this, you can create the second-assist in ultimate by reading not only that defender, but by seeing where the likely next pass will go and setting up your first receiver to hit the continue.

By increasing your functional options, you can increase the effect that your completions have on the second pass. You can set your teammates up for success (since you can't just run it in yourself) instead of just getting the disc out of your hands. This is a grossly underestimated skill by sportswriters, players at most levels, most fans and coaches who do not work understand the depth of the game.

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