5 happy memories from Day 1 at Nationals

I knew that today was going to be a good day when the first person I ran into at the field site was former All-Star Dori Franklin who now plays for Nemesis. As play got started, here are 5 things that really made me smile today.

(1) The excellent play of Riot’s Lucy Williams

Williams had an amazing day as one of the main cogs in Riot’s O. I remember first getting to know her when she played for Seattle Mixtape several years ago, but today was the first time I saw her in person in the women’s division. She was sensational. Riot recognized her earlier in the season for work at the Pro Flight Finale:

Seeing Williams having all kinds of success today was a big bright spot in my day and even hours later as I’m writing up this post, thinking about her play today brings a big smile to my face.


(2) Seeing Anouchka Beaudry play

I wrote about Beaudry after watching the finals of Canadian nationals:

Take some time to learn from Anouchka Beaudry

and Upwind Ultimate wrote about her here:

It was a thrill to see her play in person. Her throws are absolutely stunning. From the beautiful hucks to soft, shorter touch throws she makes throwing look effortless. I’m almost at a loss for who to compare her to – she’s got the silky smooth touch of Claire Chastain, the range of Rohre Titcomb, and the variety of throws that Jenny Fey has. The combination is truly incredible to see. I cannot wait to follow her career in club and international ultimate.

I also loved the matchup she had with Riot’s Kirstin Gruver today. They both made each other work really hard. It is also a fun coincidence that they both wear #13.

(3) Showdown’s Julia Schmaltz

If you followed the college championships in the US you probably know about Schmaltz’s amazing play already. If not, try this on for size . . .

Schmaltz

Today was the first time that I’d see Schmaltz play in person and she blew me away. I loved her throws, I loved how she saw the field, I loved how she moved to create space, and, obviously, her athleticism is completely out of this world.

And . . . let me just say that the idea of Schmaltz and Jaclyn Verzuh being on the field together representing the US at the U24 world championships next year is mind boggling.

(4) The speed at which Carolyn Finney plays the game is beyond description

I used this video of Finney’s play at regionals against Nightlock in a prior blog post and I think it highlights my point:

Finney’s speed and quickness is clear enough on film, but seeing her play in person gave me a much better understanding of the problems that she creates for the other team. Watching her is like watching the quickest person you’ve ever seen cutting, faking, and defending in fast forward. The most impressive thing to me was her decision making which was flawless.

When college players move up to club you’ll often hear them talk about the speed of the game. I don’t know what they say when they have to deal with Finney!


(5) I **finally** saw Manuela Cardenas play in person

I don’t even know what highlight video to share – but here a short and famous (and old!) one.

I feel extraordinarily fortunate to have had the opportunity to see her play today – it is a moment that I’ll remember forever. Players like her can change the course of the sport. It is going to be an absolute privilege to be able to follow her career.

(6) A few other bonuses . . . .

It made me extremely happy to be able to meet players that I’ve come to respect both this year and over the last few years. Getting to meet Riot’s Maddie Gilbert and Molly Brown’s player / coach Carolyn Matthews were very special moments for me today.

The chance encounters with the old All-Star players was another source of happiness. I love watching the success that all of them are having in club ultimate and can’t wait to see Hannah Leathers, Megan Cousins, and Margot Stert back on the field at full strength next year.

Finally, some brief chats with Anna Nazarov, Hannah Krielkamp, Drew Johnson, and Robyn Wiseman makes me remember how lucky I’ve been to meet so many amazing players over the years – and how many people around ultimate are so easy to cheer for!

What a day 🙂

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10 things I’m excited to see at Nationals

I had a super stressful day of work today.  One nice thing about working from home, though, is that I’m surrounded by a lot of things that make me happy.    Sorry that not all of the pictures from my office wall came out so well, but I was going for happiness rather than picture quality 🙂

(1) I’m excited to see players in person who have been impressing me for years

Players like Claire Chastain

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and Julia Snyder:

(2) I’m excited to see the All-Stars shine

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The All-Stars are a never ending source of happiness for me:

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and have you seen how Lisa Pitcaithley is playing this year!!

(3) I’m excited to see players who excelled with their national teams shine with their club teams

Like Calise Cardenas

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and Catherine Hui

(4) I’m excited to see amazing athletes shining in big moments on a big big stage

Like Qxhna Titcomb

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Opi Payne

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and Shannon Bubb

(5) and even if they are playing against the team I happen to be rooting for, I’ll cheer for greatness

Like when Megan Cousins did this against Riot:

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or when Anraya Palmer did this at 14-14 vs the All-Stars:

(6) I’m really excited to see all of the great leaders in ultimate

like Rachel Habbert

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Rohre Titcomb

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and Nancy Sun

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(7) I’m excited to see the amazing young players emerging in club ultimate this year

A great memory for me was watching Shira Stern emerge as a star for Riot

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I can’t wait to see players like Maddie Gilbert:

and Anouchka Beaudry:

And Beaudry is trying to raise money to get to Perth for U24’s next year – if you are looking for a good cause to support, here’s her page:

Anouchka Beaudry’s Go Fund Me page

(8) I’m excited to see all of the players who had great years coaching college and youth get their chance to compete

Like Robyn Wiseman
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and Jenny Fey

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(9) Oh, and those club coaches can play just a bit, too

Like Gwen Ambler

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and Carolyn Matthews:

(10) and I hope to see today’s stars inspire future players, too.

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Watch the girl in blue when Jenny Fey scores around 2:42 to see more of what I mean.

 

Can’t wait for next week 🙂

Lessons from Fury vs. Nightlock at Regionals

I saw the game film from Fury vs Nightlock at 2017 SW Regionals posted today:

The game is amazing! It is full of highlights and full of lessons for younger players. Normally I don’t write about games until I’ve watched them 3 or 4 times, but here are 10 great moments from this game just from watching it once.

(1) #10 Genevieve Laroche’s cut for the first score

Watch how she reacts to her defender’s poach!

(2) #7 Opi Payne poaching deep on the far side of the field

Textbook help deep from the far side of the field.

(3) #18 Shannon Bubb’s incredible huck grab.

(4) #13 Cree Howard showing how to be a wing in zone O

Beautiful work creating space, gaining yards, and letting the play come to her.

(5) #51 Shayla Harris showing how to be a wing in the zone

Similar lessons from example #4, but important enough to show twice. Watching film gives you such a great opportunity to learn how elite players play, and this is master class level work from Harris.

(6) Just enjoy and learn from the pure quality of #11 Carolyn Finney

(7) . . . and while you are at it, learn from #4 Alex Snyder, too

(8) Study this scoring cut from #44 Maggie Ruden hard

(9) Another lesson from #51 Shayla Harris

I like examples like this one. No matter what level your team is, sometimes the player with the disc gets stuck in a high stall situation. The only thing you can do here is try to turn a 50/50 chance into a 75/25 one.

Harris gets stuck here and how she handled that situation provides a great lesson.

(10) #33 Anna Nazarov poaching in the cutting lanes

It is such a privilege to be able to watch Nazarov play. Here she’s basically shutting down 1/4 of the field all by herself. Incredible.

Expect less

Anna Nazarov highlighted some impressively dumb internet comments about women’s ultimate tonight. I won’t repeat them here, except for the last line of one of them:

“Women need to train more or expect less.”

By coincidence I was already starting a blog post about some of my favorite plays, so instead of “where to begin” I’d  actually already begun.

You think women need to train more or expect less. Here’s what I think:

(1) Ashley Young did not expect less

(2) When, literally ever, did Gwen expected less?

 

(3) I don’t expect less than an “ooh la la” every time Surge is on the field:

(4) You are down 14-12, Anna. The game is over. Expect less:

(5) Who else but Cat Phillips does not expect less:

(6) Sorry, Robyn, there’s no way you’ll catch that disc – expect less:

(7) You can put 3 defenders on Jenny Fey. She won’t expect less

(8) Chastain to Pitcaithley guarded by Mosquera . . . yeah, expect less:

Oh stupid internet comments – can I please expect less?

A nice zone O lesson in Ultiworld’s film of Nemesis vs Showdown

I’d not had a chance to see 2015 All-Star Dori Franklin play yet this season and was watching a little bit of Ultiworld’s film of the Nemesis vs Showdown game from the Elite / Select Challenge to remedy that oversight. At 5-5 in the game there’s a nice zone O lesson from a Nemesis turn, so I thought I’d write a quick post showing the set up.

The start of the position is here and I’ve highlighted the 3 downfield Nemesis players I want to focus on:

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I really like the positioning from both teams here.  Nemesis is doing a nice job spreading out the defenders down the field on O.  I’m a big fan of keeping two wings deep as Nemesis is showing in the picture.  That idea in zone O positioning tends to open up the middle of the field.

I also like Showdown’s positioning on D ->  hey, if there are no O players in the middle of the field, why not just head in and clog up the handler lanes even more!

Here’s the position just a few seconds later:

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I’m very happy to see both Nemesis wings still staying wide, and I’m extra happy that the one on the far side of the field (who is sort of hidden, but she’s by the arrow, trust me!) is heading down the field.  Look how open the middle is now!

So, now the unguarded woman on Nemesis has the whole middle of the field to herself.  What should she do?

Here’s the position a few seconds later:

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The unguarded player on Nemesis is running into the open space now, but I think this is too aggressive.  That’s the lesson I want to point out.  She’s already open and just needs to let the handlers find her.  By running towards the disc she’s turning a potential 25 yard gain into a 10 to 15 yard gain.  I’m happy for her to try to move to the center a bit more, but it doesn’t have to be quick movement.  Again, she’s wide open already.

Here’s what happens -> a hammer goes up, but unfortunately sails over her head:

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So, some quick lessons:

(1) I like Nemesis’s positioning and if Nemesis can recreate this kind of positioning they are going to crush the zone D’s that other teams try to throw at them.

(2) Two important ideas as a downfield zone O player are (i) occupying defenders, and the Nemesis wings are doing a great job of highlighting this idea, and (ii) finding open and dangerous space.  The third downfield Nemesis player has done this well, too.

(3)  You don’t need to attack open space with your legs.  Once you find yourself in good position, sometimes just trying to improve your position slowly is the best option.  Let the handlers find you.

(4)  It is often easier to move in to a disc that is a little short than to go back to a disc that is a little long.   If you are open down the field in zone O it is ok to err a little bit on the deep side – you don’t need to come to the disc.  If you are throwing to someone open in zone O, it is ok to err a little underneath – the receiver can easily come to the disc.

The work here by Nemesis is actually really great and I think a really important lesson in positioning. One little adjustment and they’ll be getting the disc through the middle of all the zone D’s the face.

 

 

I really like the way Julia Snyder plays

Writing about Silke Delafortrie yesterday was kind of big breakthrough for me. Here’s that blog post:

Silke Delafortrie is a great player

I’d watched the Mantis vs. Box final 5 times and felt like Delafortrie was an amazing player but I was hard pressed to name more than one or two highlights. Going back through the game to study her plays showed me what a fantastic player she was.

Tonight I was thinking about other players that have unlimited respect for but that aren’t necessarily producing 53 Sportscenter highlight plays per game. #1 on that list has to be Julia Snyder of Riot. So I went back through the Pro Flight Finale finals to check out her plays. Just as with Delafortrie in the Austrian finals, you can learn a ton from watching Snyder in this game.

I had slightly less time tonight so there are only 6 clips, but it’ll be the same idea as yesterday’s post -> a short introduction followed by a short clip. Snyder’s great play speaks for itself.

(1) This one is a D example from near the start of the game. I love how she slides seamlessly from defender to defender clogging the throwing lanes. No wasted movement, no chasing, and working perfectly with her teammates

(2) A little later in the same point – I love her positioning and footwork. She puts enough pressure on the swing cut to make the player she’s guarding want to switch and head up the line. But Snyder’s body position and footwork allow her to shut down that cut, too.

(3) Great work handling in zone O from Snyder here. Watch how her movement highlights the positions guarded by the various D players. Then watch her find a nice open spot in the zone and wait for the disc. So many lessons in for handlers in zone O in this short clip.

(4) Watch both the movement to get the reset pass and the movement after her throw that pulls the defender out of the throwing lane.

(5) This 30 second sequence is a fantastic example of letting the play come to you. Another this sequence highlights is that knowing when not to cut is at least as important as knowing when to cut.

(6) One last example of pulling defenders out of cutting lanes and attacking open space.

I love everything about how Julia Snyder plays ultimate. When she is on the field you can be sure that you are watching absolute elite level play from start to finish. If you are a handler looking to learn how to improve your own game – study Julia Snyder. I can’t say that enough! The great thing about these 6 highlights is that no matter what level of player you are, you can incorporate the ideas you see from Snyder into your game tomorrow.

Silke Delafortrie is a great player

This post will be my last one about the women’s final in Austria between Mantis and Box. I’ve been through the game 5 times now and every time I’ve watched it I’ve gained more and more respect for Silke Delafortrie – #11 on Mantis.

The plays you’ll see from Delafortrie in this game aren’t highlight plays, rather just smart and absolutely sound fundamental play in every situation she’s in all throughout the game. It doesn’t matter if she’s cutting, handling, guarding cutters, or guarding handlers, everything she does in this game is excellent. I’ve been trying to think of who she reminds me of and the best I could come up with was a mix of Riot’s Calise Cardenas and Fury’s Anna Nazarov.

Below are 10 simple things that Delafortrie did in the game that really impressed me. If you are a younger player looking to study someone to learn from their play, I recommend taking a really close look at Silke Delafortrie.

Again, to be clear the plays below are not any sort of “OMG AMAZING HIGHLIGHT” plays – rather just sound fundamentals. The plays speak for themselves I think, I’ll give only brief descriptions and ~10 seconds to highlight the play:

(1) Great fundamentals with the disc, not forcing anything, and playing easily within her team’s system

(2) Great fundamentals catching the disc again and a beautiful backhand break that sets up a nice set of throws for Mantis up the sideline. I love the shape and touch on Delafortrie’s throw here

(3) Even though this pass is just out the back, I love how Delafortrie attacks the endzone space here.

(4) Great field awareness and some fantastic D helping deep

(5) I love Delafortrie’s active mark here.

(6) More great help deep D. Her field awareness is terrific

(7) Another great example of attacking open space in the endzone – this time she gets the goal!

(8) I love her 1 on 1 D – the woman she’s guarding has to work so hard:

(9) Similar to the first example – great fundamentals catching and turning with the disc and then further nice work not trying to force anything and staying within Mantis’s system:

(10) Finally – since she’s basically played every other position – here she is working as the center handler and doing a great job distributing the disc to set up a (not shown) fantastic huck:

So, one final thanks to Michelle Phillips for making we aware of this game film. The two prior blog posts and the game film are in the three links below. I really loved spending a week studying game.

Livestream Österreichische Staatsmeisterschaften Ultimate Men/Women

Learning from Lisa-Maria Hanghofer and Paula Haubenwallner

Learning from Mantis’s Silke Delafortrie, Julia Lischka, and Trixi Peterstorfer