Wednesday, August 3

"I'm Not Fast"

Is what I would constantly tell players

when they said that they couldn't keep up with me in practices/games. I certainly gave it my all in drills/conditioning/etc, but pure speed? I don't think I've ever won a sprint on any team in any sport. I doubt I've ever been in the top 25% in terms of speed on any team. Even at NYU playing ultimate, I was far from "fast" when compared to the team.

This, however, is very different from being *usefully* fast.

There are two ways to look at this, and the first is epitomized by this clip. How fast is Michael Vick? He's one step faster that you. Here, he's one step faster than two Vikings who end up *tackling each other* just after running through a group of THREE defenders just a few steps previously. Same with this DeSean Jackson clip. The key is at 42 seconds. As Jackson and the DB come into view, the Redskins DB is actually closer to where the ball lands than DeSean. Then, as the astute announcer intones, Jackson accelerates. Yes, these guys are fast, and yes, their 40 times prove as much. But the key is that they get into truly high gear when presented with an obstacle or opponent. No sprint can test this.

For an ultimate example, Jeff Ho, a fellow NYU alum, has caught discs up in the air that he had no right getting. As someone who's played multiple sports and always marveled at guys who can jump out of the gym, I know Jeff was getting up to 10' on some of these catches (in his younger days). However, in the gym before/after/during indoor practices, he couldn't get anywhere near touching the basketball rim. In fact, it often looked like he had never jumped before and was figuring out the mechanics of each step in the approach. Then we'd play indoor mini and Jeff would just ROOF people at what was very obviously a height equal to the rim.

Game-skills are different than testable skills.

The second, and far more interesting, sense of game speed is explained beautifully by Alan Jacobs below:

Extreme anticipatory awareness reduces the need for speed. In his best years you hardly ever saw Cannavaro at a full sprint: when his teams were on the pitch everyone’s focus would be other players who were moving around and obviously doing things, and then Cannavaro would just be there—as though he had gotten to his position by materializing rather than running.

For an ultimate example, there was this Philly player called Ringo. He wasn't fast or tall. He still claims to be unable to throw. But goddamnitall, there would be 2+ occassions every weekend in which he would be playing defense and then, suddenly, the other team would be throwing the disc to him. It was and still is one of the most inexplicable things I've seen on the field. And it happened with regularity against all levels of teams. He was fond of saying "I've gotten more out of my body than any other player." Not to agree, because that might make his head get too swole-up... but damn.

I'm not sure this was ever true of me as a player, even for a moment. I don't have the sense of timing on defense that Cannavaro had. I don't have the nose for the D that Ringo had. All that said, if I could have one compliment given me as a player, it would be that I "materialized rather than ran."

Even if it is a total lie.


Anonymous said...

Ha. I played with Ringo in college, and he was the same way back then...

kbf said...

A recent thing said of me: I'm the best on the team at "running around a lot and ending up at the right place."

I'm not sure whether to take this as a complement or not.

Also, Jeff Ho is a ninja.

Tim said...

Wow...a Ringo reference.

Other intangibles related to ultimate would be the "fear" AKA an unreasonably high percentage of the time that D's occur in your vicinity whether you had a hand in them or not.

B-Lo said...

"Usefully fast" is an interesting category. I always placed myself in the category of "just fast enough." I managed to boost my "usefully fast"ness by cultivating the illusion of being not "fast enough," which has led people to label me "deceptively fast." But these days, i think i'm sadly "not quite fast enough." And if anyone is deceived, it's me, who doesn't always realize just how "not quite fast enough" i have become. I used to be able to cover "uselessly fast" players, by being smarter and "just fast enough" but not anymore.

dusty.rhodes said...

I know *exactly* what you're typing about, B.