Comment Of The Day: Great Britain Worlds Practice

Brummie Scone, the coach of the Great Britain Open team that lost in the finals of Worlds to Team USA (largely San Francisco’s Revolver), left the comment below on our post about team practice and the tradeoff between skills and drills.

It gives some great insight into how a top level team prepares for difficult game scenarios:

[quote]Hi. I’m the coach of the GB Open team that made the final at WUGC. We spent the vast majority of practice time in drills that mimic game situations.

The kind of “skills drills” that were referred to above (such as dumps, continuation etc) probably made up less than 25% of our practice time (probably closer to 40% at the start of the season, down to 5% or less – i.e. as part of a warm up – just before Worlds).

Traditional, “games” of 7-on-7 ultimate probably less than 20% (although the closer we got to Worlds, the more that changed).[/quote]

[quote]The rest of the time we are drilling game situations. So, for example, we set up in line trap, and play until we get the disc to the other sideline. Or we start with a completed huck, and try to score from there (rather than the pretty endzone drill that most people practice). Or take one of our weakest throwers and give them the disc in a messy setup (simulating a call being made while we were in flow), to get them confident in those situations. Maybe we set up a zone, and every time the cup gets beaten we’d have a phoney call that meant the disc had to go back, forcing the throwers to beat the zone over and over again, or we’d mimic having already got the disc through the cup and try to prevent getting trapped again. Effectively we worked hard at the “transitional phase” of the game, i.e. the bits that most teams don’t work on.

What do I mean by this? Well, let’s imagine you have a pull play that ends with a huck, and an endzone 7-on-7 drill. If you catch that huck short of the endzone, do you wait for everyone to set up so you can run your drill? You may get in trouble if you do. We spent time working on the boundaries of where our plays/patterns started and stopped, so that we could play seamlessly. I’m not saying that the results were perfect… but what we did do was get into everyone’s heads what they should be trying to do when things don’t work as planned.

Adaptability is crucial in ultimate, I don’t think you can teach people how to do it, but what you can do is have your team buy in to doing things one way or another. For GB, one example was that if we got an isolation in the endzone, we’d throw it, every time. You can see this from the videos from WUGC. I certainly think that our approach, with such a young squad, contributed to our (questionable) success.[/quote]

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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