Just as the college season comes to a close in the United States, the Australian University season is kicking here in the Southern Hemisphere. The first step for many teams is to look back to last year and identify areas where they can improve to take one step further this season. For my old team, I’d imagine the main focus will be identifying the factors that lead to us getting outscored 6-1 in the second half of our semifinal matchup at Nationals, a game we were very much in control of at halftime.
Unfortunately, the reason is pretty difficult to fix. We had choked. We had fundamentally changed the mental strategies we employed in the first half and saw the game slip away from us. We’ve all done it, and professional sportspeople and teams choke too, but without an understanding of the psychology behind the phenomenon, choking can seem insurmountable. Read more →
“The power of knowing, in that first two seconds, is not a gift given magically to a fortunate few. It is an ability that we can all cultivate for ourselves” – Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (16).
Earlier this year, Glenn Poole wrote an article about how handlers could employ a mental technique called the checkdown to improve their decision making in game situations. If you have the disc, he argues that you should go through a predetermined list of options downfield, starting with your highest priority and going down the list. I agree with Glenn, but he used a more subjective approach, drawing from the checkdown’s use in football along with his own experiences. Luckily, there is also research which provides more insight into how the brain can handle this fast paced decision making and more importantly, how it can be improved. Read more →
Towards the end of 2011, I watched my university team lose the semi-final of the Australian University Games. I say I watched, because although I was on the team, I didn’t play a single point. I wasn’t a bad player, but I lacked the athleticism to make defensive plays and, despite playing for four years and calling myself a handler, couldn’t seem to put together reliable offensive play.
Almost one year later on the dot, in the same competition, I played as a starting offensive handler and led my team to an 8-5 halftime lead in the 2012 AUG semifinal. Sure, I trained hard that year, but not hard as I could have (full time work and study came first), but after frustration at my lack of defensive pressure, I put nearly all of my focus into fitness and conditioning sessions. Apart from that, nothing else changed in my training between years. But I found with an increase in my fitness, every aspect of my game improved considerably, especially my consistency as a handler.
I never really knew why the ability to sprint faster and for longer was helping me pick better options and throw better throws, but a few days ago I came across an idea which might provide insight. Read more →