Saturday, January 27, 2007

Tips for being a captain / Dealing with authority - Part 1 (of many)

Lets face it, a sizable majority of high school ultimate teams are run by the players. Usually there is a captain or core group of leaders who sacrifice their time to order jerseys, come up with strategy, plan practices, schedule games, get the team to tournaments and come up with a plan for the long term.

So in addition to all of those responsibilities there is the omnipresent judgment call of how to deal with your fellow players on a personal and team level. Most times you are friends or at least have relationships with these people outside of a practice or game setting so it is often a difficult task to motivate them in a way that wont compromise those friendships.

Here are a few suggestions for how to cope with the authority that I've come up with through experience...

1. talk it out - very rarely are there things among teammates - discrepancies about decisions or otherwise - that cannot be solved through talking. if a problem is arising primarily from one or two people i suggest meeting with them in a time outside of practice, in a situation where you are less of the authority figure. just sit in an area where you wont be interrupted and instead of chewing them out or assuming what the problem might be, open it up for discussion and allow them to say whatever is on their mind. in the same vein, if it may be a team-wide problem have a team meeting, in a classroom after school, cancel practice for the day or postpone it whatever is necessary (a team divided will not stand) and open the floor for comments or criticism.

2. welcome criticism - ... in a way. there are two types of criticism, as you might expect - good and bad. first the bad - you are setting up a drill, explaining something in terms of strategy and have relative "quiet" and there is a voice from the back saying "this drill sucks" or "why dont we do ___ instead" - this is bad criticism. i suggest responding to this in a way that discourages it from happening in the future, perhaps with, "___, just let me finish explaining this drill and you can tell me what you are talking about in a second" or perhaps, "we are doing this now, we will be doing that soon" or something similar but then talk to the person one on one and explain how to give good criticism. good criticism is something that is beneficial to the team. it comes more from a general interest to see things work well, as opposed to just wanting to prove the person in the authority position that you are right. good criticism more often than not should come in a smaller setting - one on one, or small group. it should also be phrased in a non-confrontational way. example - "hey i think drill x would might help us work on that problem we had in the last game" as opposed to "that drill is shit". that drill might be shit, but the point is if you want someone to listen to you, you have to come across reasonable.

3. wait 10 minutes rule - it is very very easy to get frustrated when being a captain, you get very little in the way of thanks and or gratitude and you do the lion's share of the work. so quite often you might find yourself wanting to scream at people, write nasty emails to your team telling them how much they should try harder and how much everyone isnt working now, or call people out, or all of those things combined. however, when you step back and look at it, those actions will yield very little of the things you would like to accomplish - success as a team or other. more than likely a calm explanation of where you are coming from explaining why you are frustrated would be more beneficial, however very few people are receptive of that after having been chewed out in public. instead use this rule - wait ten minutes. its incredibly easy, but hard to do. example situation - at practice, give the drill for someone else to run for a second (this is a good trick to defray criticism that you are a being too hard on people, it doesnt work if a teammate is running the drill), and then run down to the end of the field and set up cones, or just jog around for a second. or just get a drink. just put some time between you and the frustrating situation. if you let something grind on you at night and are about to send out a nasty email, write it out, it might help, but then walk away for 10 minutes. watch some tv, go physically away from the computer. and then come back to it, read it again, revise and then send.
The above are just a few suggestions, and i cant say that i always followed them myself either of the times when i was a captain, but if someone had given me the above advice perhaps it would have helped?

I will try to compile more coherently in the future make it a reoccurring feature. I am very interested to hear what your experiences are and any advice you have for someone who might become a captain - comment away!

PlayUltimate Contributors - Jay Huerbin

Name: Jay Huerbin
High School Team: Hampton Talbots
College: University of Pittsburgh
Currently Living in: Pittsburgh
Years Playing: About 2
First Heard of Ultimate: High school friends
Ultimate Accomplishments: Personally: MVP of high school senior year, 2nd year letterman in high school; Team: Winning Fall PHUL I in 2005, playing in Easterns, finishing 4th at YCC's
Favorite Tournament: Easterns and Youth Club Championships (both in 2006)
Accomplishments in Regards to Journalism: Sports writing: and The Pitt News (soon)
Mentors/Role Models: My team
Ultimate Quote: "Great moments are born from great opportunity."

I love the sport and I love to win. I'm always striving to improve my game, which occasionally leads to me losing confidence in some aspects of the game.

For those who do not know me, I feel that one of the most important parts of a team is enjoying that team. You need to have fun. As a team you need to have good times with each other; I love to have fun with my teammates.

Enjoy the game. Make friends. PlayUltimate.

What I've Written:
6/11/07 - Pittsburgh Impulse Team Roster and Review
5/26/07 - 2007 YCC Team Preason Preview: Pittsburgh Impulse
5/12/07 - UPA PA State Championships: The PHUL Side
3/27/07 - 2007 PHUL Analysis: Preseason Predictions (First Edition)
11/1/06 - Fall PHUL 2006

Friday, January 26, 2007

2006 - the PlayUltimate Year in Review - Most Commented Posts

After much delay, the 5 posts with the most comments for the year 2006...

5./ 32 Comments - 11/10/06 - Open Thread

4./ 35 Comments - 10/20/06 - Fall Brawl Open Thread

3./ 41 Comments - 5/20/06 - Westerns' Weekend Open Thread

2./ 41 Comments - 11/1/06 - Fall PHUL 2006

1./ 54 Comments - 10/22/06 - Cold Fusion October 28th, 29th

I have a feeling that these records will be shattered in the year to come, i have a feeling everyone will be more chatty about Easterns and Westerns - possible upsets always make for some interesting banter. Just keep it civil and we'll all do fine.

Any other favorite articles from the past year? Feel free to post a link as a comment.

(the UCPC in Boston is tomorrow, and I'm sure our other contributors will be weighing in with developments and commentary on the subject, but ill put up an open thread if anyone has some last minute things they'd like to hear from the conference)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

open thread - football anyone?

football conference champs just finished up pitting chicago against the colts in the superbowl?

any fans of either? i know most of our readers are fairly coastal in origin, but any high school ultimate players out there from the Indiana or Illinois areas?

(if you dont like football, feel free to talk about whatever you want, more content-fruitful posts coming in the near future.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Open Thread: When does your team start practice?

Anyone care to chat? Ground might not start to thaw in most of the country for a few more weeks (unless you live in some of the areas where it never froze to begin with), many athletes are in mid-season for their winter sports, so when does your team start practicing as a team for the spring season?

Do you jump right into it picking up where the fall left off? Or is there a gentle transition from an "off-season" to full-blown practices? Are recruitment efforts as excited as they were in the fall?

(If this topic doesn't suit your fancy feel free to talk about whatever you want)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

How to run a high school Ultimate tournament

On Saturday January 27th I will be presenting at the UCPC on the topic, "How to run a High School Ultimate tournament".

My presentation will cover issues from basic tournament essentials to how to expand your event to the next level. For the past five years a big part of my life has revolved around high school Ultimate tournaments, so I have developed many strong opinions on what makes for a successful event. Over the next couple weeks I would like to further expand on my ideas by posing the following questions to the PlayUltimate community:

1) In your opinion what are the most important traits of a well run HS Ultimate tournament?

2) What are your Ultimate tournament pet peeves?

3) If you've ever organized an Ultimate tournament, what advice would you give to people who are thinking about running a HS Ultimate tournament for the first time?

4) What do you think is the most crucial element that separates well run HS tournaments from poorly run HS tournaments?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

2006 - the PlayUltimate Year in Review - Part 2

[the second in a series... of two.]

These are some of my personal favorite posts from the second half of 2006...

International Focus - Australia's WJUC Open Team by Matt
A quasi-in-depth look at the boys coming from half-way around the world to Devens, Mass to compete in worlds. Complete with interviews from the captains.

A West Coast take on YCC by Miranda Roth
Miranda gives her take on the recently completed YCC tournament. Complete with thoughts on all divisions.

Football & Ultimate by Luke Johnson
Luke talks about the experience of putting on a show during half-time of a high school football team. Complete with video coverage of the event.

CHS: Westerns 2006 Open Story by Luke Johnson
Luke posts an extremely comprehensive video of the 2006 Westerns tournament. Including an High Def format. Very worth a look.

Something positive with the sport by Matt
I wrote a story about two players from Tennessee who started a tournament in the memory of a lost friend to raise money to prevent the cause of his death.

Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference Boston 2007 by Tiina Booth
Tiina announces the first Ultimate Coaches and Players Conference to be held in Boston on January 27th.

Do you have a favorite post from the year? Feel free to post it as a comment. Still to come, the top 10 commented on posts of 2006.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

PlayUltimate Mailbag: Easterns and Westerns Scheduling

Fresh from the inboxes of PlayUltimate -

I am new to the youth ultimate blogging scene, so forgive me if this topic has been
rehashed over and over but I believe the issue is the number one problem with the junior championship series and that is graduation conflcts with Westerns and Easterns.

I understand that the HS tournaments fit best for the UPA after college, before summer, not in the fall because of club. Some have argued that April is too early and June is too late, but I argue that the date should never be set on any high school's graduation. It is inherently discrimatory. It is unfair. In the last 5 years of coaching ultimate Nationals and Easterns has fallen on our graduation date 3 times. Paideia, one of the top ranked HS teams in the nation has had similar conflicts. I admire Mike Baccarani and his crew. I have never heard him complain once about this issue. I am not that strong. Its wrong and I wish I could enact change. I've spoken with Will and Kyle and emailed board members in past years, but all in vain. So, we plan on taking a Freshman-Junior squad to Easterns this year. There will be no complaints on the field, but the bottom line is it isn't fair.

David Wu, Coach
Lexington Catholic HS
So what do you think? Should the UPA ask for all school's graduation dates? Should they accept all the teams and then select a date that allows all to attend? Or should things remain as they are now?

As a fan of the game it stinks not to see a top team at the most prestigious tournament, essentially the closest thing to a national championship we have for high school teams at the moment. But is there a feasible way of correcting this? I know my high school graduation was a weekend in early June, as i think most schools in the area were. But is there regional disparity here?

On the same subject, it is also my personal opinion that all state championships should happen before easterns and westerns so that they can be taken into consideration when admitting teams. and in the same line of logic, local league and city championships should be held before states. NFL playoffs are going on right now and as im sure you have heard, it is referred to as the second season, the games take on a whole new level of athleticism and competition because teams are now fighting for survival. But i digress, the connection here being, in some ways it can be unfair to judge a team's regular season individual games for a tournament such as easterns or westerns, because who knows who had a test that day or perhaps playing time was mixed up. Whereas with the direct progression a more accurate depiction of who the best teams are late in the season will come to the forefront.

Agree? Disagree? Let's hear it.

Monday, January 08, 2007

2006 - the PlayUltimate Year in Review - Part 1

Here are some of the best posts from 2006.... (the first six months)

Elite Juniors Tourney Announced in Georgia by Matt

Slopfest V Preview by Thomas Sanchez

Colorado + Predictions by Harrison Fast

WJUC Historical Rundown: Swedish Dominance by Matt

Sports Illustrated/CNN - Testing the Ultimate Market? by Matt
Westerns Review - Teams by Mike Mullen
(There are a TON of awesome posts from May, including previews for almost every team in Westerns, Houston City Championships, Highlight videos, Easterns previews and recaps, Virginia State champs recaps and more, check out the whole month by clicking here.)

2006 College Choices by Matt (list of around 100 graduating high school ultimate players and where they are going to college)

coming soon...
top 10 most commented posts of 2006 and maybe a few other recaps

Sunday, January 07, 2007

PlayUltimate Mailbag: RRI Reset...

A reader wrote in with this comment -

I read the playultimate blog pretty regularly and have
a suggested topic for a headline. It concerns the
youth RRI and the fact that they get reset after
January 1st. I have talked to my coach on this issue
and he has suggested reseting the youth RRIs in the
summer when most teams graduate players, not in
January when most youth teams are generally
unaffected. I just wanted to suggest this topic to see
what other people have to say on it.
so what do you guys think? id argue for that the high school scene this makes a lot more sense. I'm also of the opinion that as long as it is feasible money-wise for the UPA they should maintain all results ever recorded for the RRI system. perhaps reset the current RRI for a team once a year, but maintain the results and a history of that teams progress and their past rankings.

i think it would be awesome to see 30 years of college ultimate history for a team, (hopefully not all on one page) but perhaps underneath their record links for each year that would have pages with those results and also the rosters.

in the dream world there would also be an RSS feed for every team so that people could stay up to date with all their favorite teams' scores.

what do you think though?

(a side note, email the site with your comments, or questions, story suggestions, or just to chat -