Thursday, September 08, 2011

Learnings from WCBU 2011 - 2

Just a last couple of notes..

1) It was notable, the number of spouses and kids that had accompanied players to the championship. There were SO many young Ultimate couples (both people playing) who had come with toddlers to the tournament. Haven't seen this in any other sport before!

2) To give people an idea of what kind of players we need to create a competitive team.. ideally it should be a player with Bajji's stamina, Raj's speed and quick feet, AP's build, Boon's throws, Thunder's strength, Paddu's verticals, Abhi's heart, Mama's enthu & discipline and maybe my ability to learn quickly, and strategize (for lack of a better example). We'd need 15 players of this type :-). A whole generation of evolution required, I'd say. But, we've gotta start somewhere. Most of these things are learnable and evolvable over time.

3) Some of the top countries had dedicated coaches, and some teams even came with their own physio. Eg. Italy, France, GB, etc.


Saturday, September 03, 2011

Learnings from WCBU 2011

Thought I might as well put down some points that I observed, so that the next time we think of putting together an Indian squad, we take some of these things into account.

1) Squad Size: I think this is the biggest learning from the tournament. Most successful teams came with a squad size of about 17 or 18, for a 5 vs. 5 tournament. Team India went with 10! We got killed. I said this before, and I'll dwell on it again. Every point lasts typically 45-50 seconds. And so pretty much 5 people are sprinting hard in the field, while the other 5 are catching their breath, and getting a sip of water. This means (a) no side line support, which is a critical defensive weakness (b) you're going in every alternate point, whether it's Defense or Offense. I would size the Defense squad to be 10 people, and the Offence squad to be about 7 - 8 people.
The Canadian Women's team for example had 2 lineups within themselves, and they would alter the lineup at the end of everyday depending on what worked and what didn't.

2) Depth of squad: It doesn't make sense just having numbers, when you don't have the depth of skill sets & stamina in the squad. Which would mean that the top 5-6 players will end up going in every alternate point! From what I observed, no competitive team had players going in every 2nd point.. and no players played more than 2 points in a row. There were no clearly defined roles as handlers and cutters to be honest. 99% of the players did both

3) Defensive and Offensive plays: From what I observed from the US open team, they had 3 kinds of defensive plays only. They had codewords (I think blue and white) for a force backhand, force forehand for man-defense. Then they had a straight up aggressive mark defense, with cutters being marked under. And then they had a zone defense. They had practiced this well, and every player played their role.
On offense, everyone played ho-stack without exception. And I think the Indian team itself lacked knowledge on how to defend against this formation. We handle vert stacks much better. We need to practice this hard.

4) Squad age: I would say that the average age of the open division squad was about 25-26. The Indian team was probably a much higher average age squad. This becomes imporant, as along with that, comes increased agility and speed.

5) Sideline - The 6th man on defense: This was a clear difference between the top teams and the rest. The top teams communicated a lot more from the sidelines to the defenders in the field. Calling a no-break / no-inside / no-outside, strike, no up-line, etc. etc. really made a big difference to the game play.

6) Pulls - One thing I did notice was the blady backhand outside-in pulls that some of the top teams had. Very effective, and put a lot of pressure on the receiver right from the word go. Most of the lesser teams did not have this pull in their arsenal.

Can't think of anymore at this point. Will add more later if I remember anything!