Sunday, June 10

"Whole Field"

That's my mantra for 07.

I usually come up with something on O or D to repeat to myself incessantly while on the field to help me work on a specific part of my game. Examples from the past "Quick Feet,"Low Hands," "No Mark," and "To Space." I find that they help me focus on particular functions of my game. Quick feet is in reference to playing d, marking and cutting. "Low Hands" was when marking. "No Mark" encouraged me to see the field without considering the mark. "To Space" was to encourage me to throw deep shots to spaces, not to players.

"Whole Field" is an exhortation to see and quickly process as much of the field as possible at all times. I want to work to make more complex decisions in terms of positioning on the mark, on D, movement as a cutter and decision tree as a thrower.

To touch on each further:

  • Positioning on the Mark.
    • I feel an intelligent mark should take more into account than what the force is and where in relation to the sideline you are. Things like: What information can you take in just before your man catches the disc by looking behind you? What movements can I see out of the corner of my eyes? What can I see in the eyes of the thrower? Where is the dump? Where is the dump defender? Are all things that you can see just prior to the start of marking and then throughout the normal course of of a stall count. I should be able to process more than one of these simple cues into slight alterations in my actions on the mark very quickly. I can improve this skill when presented with obvious opportunities, like practice, drills and games. I can also improve when presented obscure opportunities, like walking down the street, standing on the subway or when working out.
  • Positioning on D
    • Similar to above, but each time you turn your head, you should be able to address a number of simple questions through basic visual cues. Such as: Where is the thrower? Where is the thrower looking? What angle is the mark? Where is the dump? How many dumps? Is there a stack? Where is the open space? Who is the deepest? How deep? Where is my man looking? Is he anxious? Are his knees bent? Is he an immediate threat? Each time you look somewhere, you are taking all of this information in. Why not work to consciously process as much of it as possible as often as possible such that it eventually becomes second nature?
  • As a cutter
    • Similar again. Cues like: Where is my defender looking? Which foot is his weight on? Where are my teammates? Where/who is the thrower? What does the force look like? Where is the thrower looking? Where is the open space? Am I an immediate threat? How can I become a threat?
  • As a thrower
    • Where is the open space? Who is moving? Who is looking at me? Who is not looking at me? Where is the the marker leaning/forcing? Which of my teammates would be most dangerous with the disc in his hand?
So, the quick phrase of "Whole Field" brings up all of these cues in my mind that are then attached to basic on-field movements or choices.

This goes back to the previously mentioned concept of "soft vision" as applied to ultimate. The ideal state in which to play is one where you do not think, you do. You don't so much see the throw and then throw it, rather, as you consciously see the throw, you've already thrown the disc. The same for cutting and defending and all of that. You're no longer making decisions, but the game is making decisions for you and you're working to refine which course of action the constant stream of information dictates you follow.
Workout Total:
30 min lower body plyos
90 min massage
30 min stretching


Andy said...

I remember for a period of time I did something similar to this but on a smaller scale; I was trying to increase my hand-blocks.

I focused almost solely on the eyes of the person I was marking (tried to mark the same person as often as possible) and found that there was a brief flicker (best way I can describe it) right before they threw.

It was pretty cool and I was able to get, usually, from 1-3 hand blocks per game.

Bill Mill said...

I've tried a lot of the "marking" things you talk about, because I'm pretty proud of my mark, and I always want to improve it.

However, I find that almost everything short of "stop the break, get your foot in front of an IO" is a net loss. For the 1% of time that you can make a great play, you'll get broken 1.5% of the time.

This stuff definitely works as a defender on the cut; my mantra for the year is "vision". I assume you read this article?

Anyway, just wanted to say that I've found this strain of thought much more productive in the field than on the mark; perhaps you'll have better luck than I.

And, see you in pool play at BI :)

dusty.rhodes said...

I have seen that article, though that was not what caused me to think of this. It was a comment on a sportscentury-type show about Marshall Fualk and how he felt that he could control all 21 other players on the field when he was running. If he can do that while not getting creamed, why shouldn't I be able to do that without worrying about getting pasted? Specifically when you've got the disc in your hands, essentially no one can touch you at all and your only limit is time-- why not take in as much information as quickly as possible?

My feeling on the mark is that marks need to be selectively aggressive. Can you bite hard to stop that particular throw while not leaving yourself vulnerable to a quick counter? If you know there is not other quick/easy shot, aren't you obligated to try to take away the quick/easy shot?

Marks will get broken by great throwers. How can a great marker adjust the risk-reward scale such that game is more even, overall? Take the right opportunities to make a play. Recognize the opportunities that present themselves with no significant downside if you fail and take advantage of them.

Similarly, what can you do to subtly change the thrower's motion? How can you force him to release higher or wider or lower or tighter than he usually does? You've got to introduce some chaos into the equation to maximize the effect you have on a thrower. The ore you can take in from around you, the more you can predict not only the move, but the countermove as well.

The information is there for the taking! I've just got to train my brain to analyze it!

Bill Mill said...

What I meant, I think, is that when there are 5 guys behind you, things develop too quickly to take away force throws. Any of them.

In my personal experimentation, a breakaway scenario in which there are only one or two guys behind me is the only time that I think cheating on the mark is *ever* a net win. Again, YMMV, but be honest with yourself when you get beat.

As for changing the thrower's motion, I'm in full agreement there. I think I generate a lot of turns without necessarily touching the disc because of my mark; I feel like I should get at least half a D when my guy throws it wide.

In the end, though, if you want to do mark cheating, you better have your team prepared for that situation, because I'm gonna get pissed if I wasn't prepared and my guy gets an easy 50 yd break throw because you cheated to stop the huck.

dusty.rhodes said...

I agree that there are 5 guys behind you and things develop too quickly to take away force throws. Add onto that the idea that I feel an above average club player will break you no matter where you're forcing. Not necessarily every time, but enough that the concept of preventing a thrower from throwing to half of the field is entirely unrealistic.

I feel that the reward structure in low-turnover games may actually provide enough incentive to forego the concept of a non-gambling mark. In essence, you've got to add more chaos to the defensive system to counter a predictable, though effective, offensive system. That is, if the defense is predictable, the offense will always be solve the puzzle. If the defense is unpredictable, the puzzle given to the offense is suddenly much more complex.

If your team concept is that the mark will be unpredictable, how would your downfield defenders play? Possibly underneath making the huck seem viable, maybe trailing so that they can react to the marker's movements and try to get a D on a throw forced wide to the sideline.

That's a more radical team-level adjustment, but the individual level adjustment needs to be such that if you are not currently stopping some throw that the thrower is considering, you are failing as a marker. Make his progressions into your progressions, so to speak. Always attempt to vary the release point of the current throw/fake and only go for the point block if you are supremely confident that the thrower has already committed to throwing the disc.

Point Blocks aren't the necessary end-goal of being more aggressive on the mark, but rather to force the thrower to constantly adjust to your presence and to consider your actions in his decisions without giving away anything too valuable.

You've got to figure out how to get in your man's head and, as Raoul Duke would say, "Study [his] habits." This is a good way to do that.

Elizabeth said...

I question your inclusion of "massage" in your workout total. Isn't getting a massage work for the person giving it, not the receiver? Did you give a massage?

parinella said...

Ben Wiggins had a good presentation at the UCPC about marking. Click here to download that or any other presentation. One concept particularly relevant here is the bait mark. In low-turnover environments, it's worth playing "unsound" D to increase the chances of a block. The "bait" here is to mark a certain way to get a thrower used to having a particular break throw available, then switch on a later point to make a point block or throwaway more likely.