First, a quick note. I've been told by a few people that my emails can be a bit lengthy. So what I'm going to try and do from now on is put a few important summary bullet points up front, and then add in the detail with my usual color commentary below. This way everyone can quickly get the main points, and dive deeper at their leisure.
Important stuff to know
will be our last regularly-scheduled frisbee group dinner & fun event of the ("off-")season. We'll be headed to Pinstripes at the Arboretum in South Barrington
around 6:15ish. After 9 PM, there is bowling and bocce ball at pretty discounted rates, though it's also available beforehand. As well as food and beverages. RSVP here - http://www.meetup.com/ultimatefrisbee-166/events/54915292/
- Sunday we'll be starting something new on a trial basis. Recreational frisbee from Noon - about 2 PMish. Will be followed by Semi-Competitive frisbee starting around 2 PMish. This will involve man-to-man defense, limiting the game to 7-on-7 with subs, probably a more structured offense, hard running, and keeping score (to 11/13/15, or something like that). For more detail on this, please see the below commentary. The main kudos for this go to Richard, Jamie, and Brian McMahon, as well as a host of others. Currently they're listed on Meetup separately, but that distinction might change as things evolve.
- Next Tuesday (the 13th) (and Thursday the 15th) will start the new season of Weekday frisbee! Games will be starting at 5 PM(ish...realistically, as soon as you can show up) and end at sundown (as the forest preserve closes at sundown). Expect a significant number of post-frisbee Jamba runs as the weather heats up, as well as post-frisbee Stonewood Ale House dinner & beer.
So that's it. Now for some commentary on the competitive games.
So back in the days before I even started playing with this group, we used to split into competitive and non-competitive games when we had a bunch of people show up. From what I recall, that kind of worked. But for some reason we stopped doing it. For as long as I can remember, we've just split up and tried (with varying degrees of success) to make teams reasonably even. This works, and it works well, and I really think this is the best approach the majority of the time. However, there has been some pent-up demand for something more.
Over a year and a half ago, I first started hearing people talk about wanting to play a bit more competitively. My answer back then was...well, I probably didn't have an answer back then. But I quickly came up with "Well, go play league. Or go play with SPUN." And eventually I said "Go play in Evanston." And that was that. We had something that worked, there were outlets for more competitive play, and that was it. Well...that's not quite it. A lot of our players are actually pretty good. Or have gotten pretty good. Or are a bit more competitive and want to develop those skills to get them to the next level. And they don't want to go play league, or drive all the way to Wheaton or Evanston, or miss our games.
Sunday we played a hard game to 11 (I think Brian suggested the idea). It went really well. No one seemed to complain. We had a bunch of people who are more competitive. And we had a bunch of people who, to the best of my knowledge, have never expressed any interest in more competitive games, but they seemed to enjoy themselves just the same. Yesterday, a handful of us (some who were there, some who weren't) wrote something like 40ish emails to each other over maybe a 7-hour stretch figuring out 1) Do we want to do this again? and 2) If so, how should we do it?
Finally figuring out this leadership thing, I tasked Jamie with writing up a summary and recommendation. Below is his excellent summary, slightly modified for clarity.
Last Sunday the group that showed up to play had an excellent time, and in fact we played for three plus hours. Part of our enjoyment was derived from the excellent weather (and those of you who sat at home should be ashamed!), and part was from the excellent people that we all get to play with each time we get together. We generally played six on six with one to two subs. We also played HARD. We RAN, played man to man defense, forced throwers one way consistently, called UP discs, dumped the frisbee when necessary, and generally tried to play smart (tried being a key word, we all flubbed here and there). It was a blast. We all (most of us, at least) agreed that playing semi-competitively was something we should do more regularly.
As a result, we are going to try and have regular competitive games at least once a week on Sunday at 2 PM (on a trial basis). When weekday games begin again I could see this expanding to one of those days as well (pending the Sunday trials, as well as broader group interest). This is in part meant to keep players who have more developed skills interested in coming to play with us (For example, Steve Cook doesn't play with us anymore, because he couldn't really develop as a player. Additionally, there was one time this dude and chick showed up last summer, and I heard him saying something like "This is how we relearn bad habits," and they never came back). Having college players, and local league players play with our Busse group is important so we can all continue to develop our skills and improve our game. It is important that we give them some competition (however meager it might be!) in order for them to get some enjoyment and honing of skills out of their time as well.
In these semi-competitive games players would be expected to do the following:
- Play man to man defense with vigor -- Note that we'll generally still be matching up skill-level-appropriately, to the best we can
- Recognize when to make a dump throw (a slightly backwards, shorter, and easier pass, typically used because everything upfield is guarded) --- If you're not sure when to do this, we're all willing to teach you
- STALL your opponent -- Easy to do, most of us are already in this habit.
- Run hard ALL the time -- If you're too tired to run, you should sub out. If you're going to dog it for a point, you should sub out. Folks on the sideline will be paying attention and will let you know.
- Sub in and out when you are tired (at most semi competitive games will be seven on seven on the field at one time)
- Have a very general sense of strategy. -- This is something we'll be reviewing as the game progresses, as well as on the sidelines and at halftime (yes, we'll have a half-time, where I hope both teams come together and discuss what's working well for each, and what each can improve).
- Most importantly of course, everyone would be expected to have good SPIRIT. I can't emphasize enough that although these games will be "competitive," they are NOT about winning. They're about making better decisions and developing as a player.
This move is in NO way meant to detract from our usual laid back and ridiculously fun regular games. There are enough people that play with our group when the weather is good that we can have multiple games going on at once when the competitive games are happening. If you play for exercise, just to have a good time, or for any other reason the games will still be happening at the same times just like always. This is simply meant to allow players who want to play at a bit of a higher level to do so once in a while, as well as develop the skills of players who want to improve, but haven't yet had the opportunity to participate in any competitive games.
Similarly, if you are interested in learning more about the game, or developing new skills, feel free to ask anyone when out at the field. If they don't know, they'll point you toward someone who does. While many of us are not good enough to actually help you (like me), we can point you to the many skilled and benevolent members of the group that can. We hope to try and do some skill sessions this spring (Caz note: these are currently in R&D, expect more on this starting in April), and I would encourage anyone interested in development to come to these.
This idea was discussed at great length, but only by a subset of the broader group. If any of you think this is a terrible idea, or even a slightly-bad one, PLEASE let me know. We're going to be running it on sort of a trial basis, and there's a reasonable-sized list of things that can go wrong with it. We're aware of this. This was designed to be minorly-disruptive (of our standard frisbee time, we're cutting into 1 hour out of 10+ per week once weekday games come back?), on purpose. It's the last thing we do on Sunday, on purpose. (After a hard game like this, you should be sore on Monday).
One thing to note is that there will be an elevated level of accountability. If you get beat and the other team scores, then yes, a teammate might point that out (but ideally, they also explain WHY you got beat, and help with how to fix that moving forward). But this will be tailored to the individual, of course. No one should be expecting me to outjump Dean. When Dean catches one over my head, that's just a good play by the other team...probably. Maybe I should have called "Switch!" or "Help!" Maybe I should have boxed him out better. Maybe I shouldn't have matched up against Dean to begin with that point, because they had the wind. Likewise, no one is expecting a beginner to catch every wobbly hammer, or throw that open 3/4-field-length forehand, or be perfectly positioned when we're trapping on the line.
A goal for this that seems extremely appropriate, is: After playing one of our competitive games, you should be a better player than you were before. And to the extent possible, you should help someone else become a better player than they were before. I think that if everyone comes into it with that sort of attitude, we can all have tremendous fun, get a great workout, and get better at ultimate.
See you on the field,
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