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:


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:


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:


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:


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

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

This week I’m writing about the gold medal game between Mantis and Box at the Austrian ultimate championships. The game is here:

Livestream Österreichische Staatsmeisterschaften Ultimate Men/Women

and my first blog post about the game is here:

Learning from Lisa-Maria Hanghofer and Paula Haubenwallner

The play I want to focus on today is Mantis’s scoring possession to go up 6-3 and I would like to highlight the great movement and spacing from #11 Silke Delafortrie, #16 Julia Lischka, and #18 Trixi Peterstorfer. When I saw this play for the first time I just about jumped out of my chair and the more I watch it the more I think it is an outstanding example to learn from.

The first thing I’d like to highlight is the downfield movement of Silke Delafortrie who starts back in a handler position at the top of the screen. Watch her begin to move down the field immediately as the disc moves away from her. This quick reaction is what puts her in such great position after the huck.

I’ve written about some dangerous downfield attacking from the handler position previously. Players like Carolyn Finney and Jenny Fey come to mind (not to mention the amazing attacking strategy that the Colombian national team employs!). Delafortrie movement in this possession is a super example to learn from!

The next thing I want to talk about appears on the screen for only about 1 second – it is the line of three Mantis players moving down the field behind the huck. Those players are #11 Silke Delafortrie at the top of the screen, #16 Julia Lischka in the middle and #26 Lisa-Maria Hanghofer at the bottom of the screen.

The way these three players maintain their spacing across the field as the play develops is what makes Mantis’s scoring play look so easy. I don’t want to give away the punch line here – having watched the score already in the first video, as you watch this video think about how their spacing contributed to the score. Also thounk about what each of these players could have done that would have made it more difficult for Mantis to score:

The way the cutting teamwork on this possession contributed to the score is one of the best downfield cutting lessons I’ve ever seen on film.

Now I have to give a shout out to Trixi Peterstorfer for some incredibly smart play after catching the huck.

The quick dish to Delafortrie is a really natural play and equally natural would be to head down the field to score. If you freeze the shot as Delafortrie catches the disc it looks like Peterstorfer has the whole endzone open. But she doesn’t. Her defender has dropped up to stop the deep cut. Peterstorfer stops her cut immediately and turns around to get an easy 10 yard gain.

Even better, she turns in the direction the disc is moving and fakes a backhand (yay lefties!!) which draws her defender away from the forehand side of the field.

This is a fantastic cutting and throwing lesson – there’s not one bit of wasted movement and not one thing that I can think of that Peterstorfer could have done better.

Finally comes the score. After the nice backhand fake, the throw out to space from Peterstorfer is perfect.

The cut to score from Julia Lischka is terrific and is the end result of the great spacing I talked about above. She had the middle of the field, maintained great spacing, and was in the best position to attack the open space in the endzone.

And I have to highlight the non-cut in the endzone from Hanghofer. She maintained her wide position on the field all the way through the play. That positioning (combined with Peterstorfer’s backhand fake) helped draw the deep defenders to the middle of the field and opened the far side of the field for Lischka. This kind of play doesn’t show up directly in the stat sheets (and barely shows up in the film!) but learning from great spacing examples like this is so important as you look to improve your own play. Sometimes (probably always, actually) the right non-cut is just as critical to the team as the right cut. Great work from Hanghofer!

I hope to write one more blog post about this game – thanks again to Michelle Phillips for writing about it originally!

Learning from Lisa-Maria Hanghofer and Paula Haubenwallner

Thanks to Michelle Phillips I got the link for the video of the Austrian ultimate finals. The women’s game between Mantis and Box starts around 2:08:00

Livestream Österreichische Staatsmeisterschaften Ultimate Men/Women

I’ve watched the game through three times now and have enjoyed it more and more each time. There are several plays in the game that I think are particularly instructive and I”d like to write a few blog posts so that younger players can learn from some of these plays.

For today’s blog post I’ll be focusing on Mantis’s first scoring play and the two players:

#26 -> Lisa-Maria Hanghofer, and

#14 -> Paula Haubenwallner

Here’s the video of the play:

The first thing that I like to focus on is Haubenwallner’s cut. I actually think that any words I provide aren’t going to do it justice – she gets her defender’s hips turned and heads up the line. You can look this one up in the ultimate dictionary under “nasty cut”! Haubenwaller’s footwork is worth studying, too:

The second thing that I’d like to point out from this clip is Hanghofer’s cut. I love how early she starts her cut up the far sideline -> as soon as she sees Haubenwallner turning to go up the line she busts deep.

Since Hanghofer’s defender went for the poach block, Hanghofer got a bit more space deep than normal. Even if her defender had gone with her, though, she’d have been wide open. The timing of this cut is perfect and turns this cut into a fantastic lesson.

Finally the throw and cut to score.

What I love the most here is the forehand fake from Haubenwallner. In the film you can see the defender coming across the field looking back at the disc as she moves towards Hanghofer. Haubenwallner’s quick fake causes the defender to commit 100% to getting across the field and leaves Hanghofer probably 3 steps open when she turns to cut to the opposite sideline. That separation leads to an easy goal.

Faking isn’t just for getting your mark out of position – the forehand fake her shows how a cutter and thrower can work together to get the cutter’s defender out of position, too.

I hope to publish 3 or 4 more posts about the game in the next week. Thanks again to Michelle Phillips for making me aware of this great game!

4 instructive help deep examples from Riot in the PFF finals.

I’ve been watching the finals game from the Pro Flight finale and feel like I could write a book about it. It really makes me happy to see players grow individually over a season and then come together as a team. There have been a couple of thoughts about Shira Stern, Paige Soper and Charlie Eide already in the study group. I noticed a few things from Julia Snyder watching the game again tonight that I’d missed previously. I’ve said it a million times before, but I love how she plays.

On my mind watching the game tonight was deep help. The camera shot from the middle of the field that almost everyone loves to use for watching games isn’t so great for studying deep help unfortunately, but still several examples caught my eye. I found three really nice examples of deep help working well for Riot and a forth one where Riot can improve a little. I think all four examples are instructive for players looking to improve their own downfield defending.

The first example shows Riot defending in the endzone. I love the help positioning and general defensive ideas from both Jaclyn Verzuh in the back of the endzone and Bailey Zahniser in the front. Great D doesn’t always stop a goal, but it sure makes it harder to score! Riot’s teamwork generated a couple of nice chances here.

I wish I had a better camera angle for this second example, but you’ll see nice positioning by the Riot defenders in the shot. That nice position allows Bailey Zahniser to poach a little in the deep space and Charlie Eide to play a little lose. The result is a player who looks open to the handlers, but is actually covered quite well. As Zahniser catches the pass you’ll see three defenders in the shot and only to O players.

Also note how quickly Riot is able to move the disc down the field following this turn.

The third example is some great field awareness from Maddie Gilbert. I love her positioning away from the disc here. Her work here is such a good example of and how to read and diagnose the plays downfield. Watch especially how far down the field she is from her defender and how she reacts instantly as the disc goes up. This is super instructive play!

As in the first example, you don’t always get the block but this is exactly the heads up play that you see from elite club defenders.

The last example is one where the help D could have been better. It is an interesting contrast to the third example since the help defender I want to focus on is Maddie Gilbert.

As she moves down the field from roughly 0:10 to 0:12 I really like how she adjusts her position from having her back to the disc to being able to turn back and see the disc on the sideline. Here she’s in great position to help.

As she comes back in scree around 0:18 there is still a big O threat on the the sideline (both the disc and the eventual scoring cutter going up field). Here she takes a step towards the middle to the player she’s guarding just as the disc goes up.

This example shows how split second decisions on the field can lead to large differences in outcomes. I really do like Gilbert’s overall positioning here. The change that leads to a slight improvement on D is basically just leaning left to help on the up line cut vs. leaning right to move closer to the player she’s defending. I’m really excited to see her get some blocks out positions similar to this one at nationals.

So, despite a less than ideal camera angle I think there are some good deep help lessons for younger players here. I’ll try to write a few more posts about this game later this week of I have some more free time.