Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Training for agility - C-Walking!

Ultimate teams are using more frequelntly agility ladders to train for agility and quickness.

I can say I am quicker than many players on my feet. Which means that I can change direction quickly, adjust my position quickly on the mark, and travel like it's nobody's business when I have the disc.

I have never trained much on an agility ladder, but I have been dancing on and off for a while. C-Walking is the style you want to improve feet quickness!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Structural failure

Last Saturday I brought my soft ground cleats to structural failure. I wander if I can get a replacement from New Balance. The model is MF990LK and I have had them for a little over one year.

During the second game of the day one of the soles came off. All of it and all at once. I have never seen anything like this.

Tour 0 warm up

As a warm up for Tour 0 (next weekend in Bournemouth) Revolution, Tooting Tigers, and Burro Electrico played some friendly matches last Saturday.

This season I am back playing with Revolution.

Our first game was against Tooting Tigers, Clapham's feeder team.

The number 3 dominated this game: I had slept for 3 hours, we had 3 subs, we warmed up for 3 minutes, and we scored 3 points. Tigers obviously won.

The second back-to-back game was against Burro Electrico.

Burro is a new team based in South London. There are several guys from Thundering Herd, Flaming Galahs (both mixed teams) plus some random others. All chumps of course :-)

They had 14+ players, and we finished the game with 9. We lost in sudden death.

In the last game Tigers beat Burro by 4 points (I am told).

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Great talk by John Wooden

John Wooden is a retired American basketball coach. His 10 NCAA National Championships in 12 years while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college basketball coach. At 98 he has a lot to say to anyone coaching, doing sport, and doing anything else.

At around 6:45 in the video he makes a few interesting points:
  1. Never be late - in Ultimate this will never happen
  2. Be neat and clean - I fully agree with this. It's all about looking good!
  3. No profanities - again, in Ultimate this will never happen
  4. Never criticise team mates, that's the job of the coach - Fully agree.


Friday, August 01, 2008

Worlds news coverage

You'll find videos on: - The official tournament website.

BlockStack TV - Expect from Tom and Steve a UK view of the tournament.

UltiVillage - Expect this to be a North-American view of tournament.

Ultimate Talk - I expect all kinds of blog entries from various people. PJ will probably have ten polls per day.

and of course...

discslut - I don't know what you should expect. Perhaps videos, perhaps pictures, perhaps wordy thoughts and observations. I'll probably talk more about Italy and the other mid-ranking teams in the tournament.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Two weeks ago I was playing Goaltimate with Alena and Anja, both GB women, who were talking about what cleats to bring at Worlds in Vancouver: Regular studs, blades, metal studs etc. I thought that when it comes to equipment (and also for everything else) Ultimate players are geeks.

I am definitely a footwear geek. First, because looking good is everything (I am doing the blue steel as I write), and second, because in the past I had a bad experience from a wrong footwear choice.

OK let’s start with the bad experience anecdote. Once upon a time there was a clueless graduate student who started playing Ultimate. He always had problems finding the correct shoe size. In particular he did not understand why some people could just:
  1. go to a shoe store
  2. ask for size X
  3. try the shoes on
  4. shoes fit perfectly
  5. buy shoes

Instead he had to:
  1. go to a shoe store
  2. ask for size X, X+1/2 and X-1/2
  3. try all shoes on
  4. at least two kind of fit, but not perfectly
  5. try another model
  6. repeat steps 2-4
  7. be undecided: take size X, hoping that they will fit better once they are broken in? Take size X+1/2 and hope that they will fit well with a double pair of socks?
  8. eventually buy something

Following this process, once he ended up with a pair of cross trainers that he was going to use in the gym and to play indoor Ultimate.

Digression: Indoor Ultimate in the UK is usually played five-on-five on a basketball court.

The clueless student decided to play an indoor tournament. The team only had 7 players, so although a beginner in his first year of ultimate, he played many points... in his new shoes. He was also wearing a thick pair of cotton socks. He knew that cotton for sport is never good, but for just once, what could happen?

Result: The biggest blisters ever seen. I must still have a picture somewhere.

On his way back to the train station from the sport centre, he could barely walk. As the blisters were on the ball of the foot, he had to walk the whole way on his heels.

A day later he visited a nurse at the medical centre of the university. The nurse initially almost refused to see him for a case of blisters. When she saw the blisters, her eyes popped out, and could not believe that were caused by two days of running around an indoor court. An additional problem was that one of the blisters became infected.

The nurse, who obviously had never done sport in her life, gave random and useless advice on what to avoid blisters in the future.

The student had to walk on heels for about one week and could not play for three weeks.

Happy ending:

The student threw away the cotton socks and ordered good technical socks. £8 a pair and worth every penny.

In the gym where he was a member, once some New Balance representatives were measuring people’s feet to find their ideal New Balance shoes, which have width-sizes. He had his feet measured and it turned out that his feet are particularly wide. That’s why he always had problems finding shoes. He discovered his correct shoe size and became a loyal New Balance customer.

...which leads to the list of footwear that tomorrow he'll be packing in his backpack and taking to Vancouver:

Soft ground: New Balance 991 Low (in the picture at the top right)

American football shoes are the way to go. Soccer shoes don’t have the toe cleat.

Regular ground: New Balance 895 Low (on the right)

The 14-cleat version of the one above.

There is also a black version of both NB shoes. Many see black as the standard colour for cleats, together with dark blue and other dark colours. White is seen as the show-off colour. If you are the kind of player who matches his base layer to his jersey, get the white cleats. Otherwise get the black ones. Guess which ones I have? (I am doing the blue steel again).

American football shoes are difficult to find in Europe. Some online stores, like EasyBay, are based in the States, but ship also to Europe.

Hard ground: Dita turf hockey shoes

The model I have is not on sale any more. I have not found a brand that does hockey shoes with sizes in width. In this case I have to get them 1/2 size bigger and wear two socks. I bought mine online from Hockey Factory Shop.

Socks: Thorlo tennis padded mini-crew

These are the thickest most padded tennis shoes that Thorlo makes. They are made of a technical fibre called THOR-LON, very similar to CoolMax.

That’s it. That’s how I keep my feet happy.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Worlds: 6 days to go

What are players doing the week before worlds?

Some people are just chilling. They have done all their disc and fitness training and there is not much else to do, other than some jogging to maintain shape and allow the body rest.

Some people are already in Canada doing a bit of tourism checking out Vancouver and British Columbia.

Some teams have gone to Canada one week or more ahead of time to train, bond, and perhaps attend a preparation tournament. I know that the New Zeland players (both open and women) are doing just that. What sets them apart is that very few of them have played together before. The one week before worlds is all the training thay are going to get as a team.

As for me, I am going to push with fitness and disc work up to the last minute.

Fitness: This year I started the serious fitness work a bit late and I am going to use all the time I have. Tuesday will be my last full-intensity training day. Only five days before my first game, which is less than for most people, who probably have been in chill-and-don't-get-injured mode for one or more weeks. Incidentally, unless the schedule changes again, Italy's first game will be on Sunday the 3rd against Canada. Tough.

Disc: Again, I am going to work on throws up to the end. Even at the airport, if I find someone to throw with. I have been training with my club team, playing summer league, goaltimate, whatever I can find.

Update: The schedule has changed. On Sunday we'll play against USA and later in the day against Sweden. Still very tough.

Update No. 2: The schedule has changed again.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Who's to blame for break throws?

"NO BREAK!" - We have all heard this a million times on an ultimate field. "The force" is one of the foundation of the game.

I think that a lot of players assume (wrongly) that the only player resposible for holding the force is the defender marking the thrower and that, when the thrower "breaks" the force by making a complete pass to a receiver on the closed side, the defender on the mark is the only one to blame.

Every time the force gets broken, someone shouts to the marker "no breaks!", "hold the force", "don't get broken!". He gets all the blame.

Some team even have a system whereby someone who gets broken has to take some form of punishment. Like sub off for one or two points, do one lap of the field, ten push-ups, etc.

This is usually completely wrong: All defensive players are responsible for
holding the force. A defender marking a receiver is just as responsible for preventing a break pass as a defender marking a thrower.

A successful break throw often occurs, not because there is a bad mark on the thrower, but because there is a bad mark on the receiver.

A defender marking a receiver often assumes that his only job is to stop deep cuts and cuts on the open side. When an O player makes a cut to the closed side, the D player often runs only half-heartedly after him. He probably thinks that the cutter is not supposed to get the disc on the closed side. Isn't this what the force is for? And if the cutter does manage to get the disc, he never gets blamed, the defender on the thrower always gets the blame.

In reality any decent handler can hit a loosely marked cutter on the break side.
Even if the force is good. If the receiver is two or three meters free from his defender, he can catch also a less then perfect throw. He can jump, slow down, slightly change direction. The thrower has a good margin of error.

On the other hand, it takes an exceptionally good handler to hit on the break side a
cutter running at full pace, who is free, but only slightly, maybe by less then one meter. In this case the thrower has very little margin of error. Any throw that is less then perfect will probably result in a turnover.

In fact, an
exceptionally good handler will probably not take such a low-percentage option. He will look for another cut on the open side, or for a dump. That's how the D team successfully holds the force.