Monday, July 2

Higher Ground

What flips the switch for you?

What takes you from mild-mannered ultimate player to uncoverable cutter? From playing pretty solid d to being a defensive terror?

Does it only happen when you feel you've been slighted? After a solid warmup? When your teammates inspire you?

Can you turn it on in any situation? With little to no warning? Without a proper warmup?

Mentally, I've rarely had a problem turning it on. My brain is ready to fight at the drop of a hat. I have a vouchers from everyone I've ever met if you need proof. otherwise, you'll have to take my word for it. Physically, I'm starting to narrow in on what I need to be ready to perform in a very short period of time.

Earlier in my Pike career, the points I played were few and far between. As a result, I had to be ready no matter how long it had been since I warmed up. And I was. Mostly. I was ready to go out and make good cuts, good throws and play not-too-shabby D. I would give everything my body was willing to give during those points, but it was rare that I could really turn the switch and make a play. I could prevent things from happening, but I could not make things happen, so to speak. This was in part due to my more limited skill set, but it was also due to my body not quite being ready to play.

There were plays then that I knew I could make, but didn't because I hesitated. There were motions that I wanted to make on the field that I couldn't quite get the hang of because that part of my body was not ready to stretch that way. Ultimate is a complex sport in that a players is expected to throw, run, jump, sprint, walk, crouch, dive, shuffle, jog, lunge, catch, change directions and more. All while acting and reacting. You need to be ready to endure, explode and recover (not necessarily in that order).

How could I possibly prepare for that? Well, by doing most of it before I play. Get low, move slowly through your range of motion. Avoid anything static, but be sure to get through the classic static stretch positions (hamstring, quad, calf, etc) on your way. Don't stop or slow, move progressively faster. Once you o these actions while acting individually, start doing them while reacting in small groups. Marking drills, away and back, breakmark, redball, 500, whatever. Get some contact. Try to stop someone from doing something. Tie yourself in to the outcome somehow. Have fun and push yourself. Get into progressively larger groups on your way up to some 7v7 action.

You should be about in tune at this point. Ready to rock.

If I must get into a game quickly, I can be ready to play full-out in about 15 min. 5 min and you'll get ~75%. Anything less than that is ~60%.

Then there's summer league. If you warm up just a bit in summer league (2-3 minutes of actual physical activity) you might take the first 3 points of the game without really working for it. Suddenly the other team is wondering what happened and is playing from behind for the rest of the game. Perfect. Now we've got some positive mo' and some extra wiggle room to get everyone warmed up by the time they come around.

Today's game was full of odd drops in the endzone and slightly strange plays. And then there was Julie leveling a mid-layout Matty J on a play where neither of them could have seen it coming. I think they call this a slobberknocker, but I could be wrong. He could have been any number of be/de's. Beheaded, decleated, befuddled, destroyed, be-etc. Both were completely fine, it seemed. Julie seems to do far more damage to men than to women. I think that's because she has no fear of a big man crushing her while the big men have no fear of a 5'3" woman taking him out. Combine the two and you've got a ball of Julie hurtling through the air at "Fearless" speed into a guy completely unaware that he's about to get truck-sticked. Yow. Recipe for disaster.

In any case, we won this game to creep up to third in the standings at 5-2 (.714). Next up is Black next Monday with All-Region Regular Amanda Davis, NY,NY's Skip Kuhn (still dangerous!) and a handful of other known quantities, friends and summer league mainstays. Should be fun.
Workout Total:
90 min Ultimate

1 comment:

Andy said...

I like the first part of this post a lot. One thing I have always struggled with learning was how to turn "it" on. I can learn throws and strategies fine, but getting really amped up to that level of uber-play eludes me far too often.