Saturday, January 27


No workout today.

Jamie and I went up to Boston for the aforementioned UCPC.

When we arrived, we parked in what was clearly the wrong parking lot and left Zac in the car to fend for himself in the cold. He wasn't coming in, he was just waiting for his brother to pick him up in a random HS parking lot in Newton, MA. Of course.

As we entered the building, we wandered around amazed by the modernity and size of the high school. Honestly, it was like a space cruiser. I went to a shitty run-down high school in PA which was preceded by an older and even more run-down middle school. We had band lessons in the goddamn boiler room. Then again, we were a very reputable music school. Maybe all classes should be in the boiler room.

This place, however, was shiny and huge. Great facility but very impersonal on both an architectural and personal level. Everything was separated by space and nether the exterior nor interior were of any great artifice. No joy conveyed in the craft therefore none to impart on the students. No warmth to the institutional setting therefore none conveyed to students.

As we got to the cafeteria, some familiar Metal faces were seen and some surprises from Texas and elsewhere. Nice to see them all, good to know that we weren't the only club players not presenting. The two best represented age-groups were definitely high school kids and coaches. Perhaps this is the draw of Tiina. Speaking of ARHS, NYU lost to them while I was a captain there. It wasn't surprising, really as they owned every matchup in terms of: Taller, faster, more athletic, better-skilled, better-prepared, less hungover, more focused and taller. Damn. That was embarrassing.

Anyway, the welcome presentation was too long (more than 5 words and is likely generally too long). We then got to the Keynote with Dr. Goldberg. That was pretty solid, though not particularly new. I did find that when listening, the reasons I don't get bad cases of the nerves became less obscured. Talk of focusing on what you can control versus what you can't was very familiar to me. Once I started thinking about sports instead of just playing them, I've had a knack for remaining calm and focused during the most intense moments. This is because of the way my mind tricks me into staying in the moment. All I'm thinking about when I'm playing is "What is the best way to react in this moment to everything I am aware of?" I generally try to beat my defender by reacting appropriately to what he does (and what my team is doing) as opposed to doing what I prefer. This takes a lot of focus and is my way of adapting Bruce Lee's quote from Enter the Dragon: "You can call it the art of fighting without fighting." It's the art of cutting without cutting. It isn't setting my man up that makes me dangerous, it is letting him set himself up and then attacking. Occasionally, I'll need to deviate from this course of action because a defender will have a good sense of anticipation or has matched up against me regularly. Then, all bets are off. I try to be the opposite of the sort of player he's used to me being. With all of that going on in my head, how can I have time to think about past failure or future success?

The next thing concerned observers in ultimate. This was okay. It basically explained what observers are in ultimate. Nothing new or groundbreaking. Not much discussion. But I do have some thoughts that came out of my own head on this one. The backing notion is taking the concept of "Best Perspective" and applying it to all of the players and observers on the field. In doing so, couldn't one determine who is in the best position to call each of the myriad of calls? Contact seems best observed by the players. Up/Down/In/Out should certainly be linesman. "Who caught the disc first?" seems like it would be observers and so forth. I think there could be something to this, but it will require premeditated thought. Not doing that now.

Then we went to Bryan Doo's fitness in ultimate thing. This was nothing groundbreaking either, if you play good club ultimate, but nonetheless, the presentation was excellent, and you can really tell that Bryan loves doing this sort of thing. He's got a contagious attitude. there were also some quick thoughts from him that are good to keep in the back of your head. No need to recap, really.

Parinella's Decision-Making bit was next. He spent a lot of time talking, no surprise there. Again, the content was good, but not shockingly original. If you haven't thought that regularly about your decisions, you should. If you have and have thought different things that what Jim went over, you either have a warped system or y'all should have a discussion to better the knowledge-base for ultimate.

Marking by Wiggins was the last presentation. Ben is a good, animated and knowledgeable presenter. I've not seen his mark be particularly powerful (Perhaps Jaeger was booked?), but he has always "done his homework" so to speak. The groundwork for team-level strategic decisions were the basis of his presentation, along with some marking techniques and thoughts.

I say that team-level strategic decisions were the core of the presentation because Ben would consistently take the different choices that a team could make on the mark and then talk about how they related to the defense played on the rest of the field. This is the only way to think about the game, really. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Not marking, throwing, cutting or anything. Nor do an individual's marking tactics. The effect that your strategic decisions have on the rest of your team (as well as the other team) is vital when choosing complimentary team-level strategies. A second "big idea" from this presentation is that defense in an elite club game must be unpredictable in order to create chances. Often, the other team will score no mater what you do. You need to gamble in order to create situations that are turnover prone. In doing so, you may offer up an easy score or two as sacrifice to the turnover gods.

Jamie and I then skipped out on the closing panel and film and started the drive home. A thought-provoking day, overall. Criticism: The presentations needed to be more conversational and less, well, presentation-like.

No comments: