Month: <span>February 2013</span>

Blog Posts

Being Observed at Presidents Day – Stars and Stripes…

Last weekend we had tiring 3 day tournament in San Diego called Presidents Day. It was a 10 hour drive down, not that far from the Mexican border. The weather was warm, not too hot, around 20 degrees and the wind had a few gusts but mostly perfect playing conditions. We were staying in a really nice house thanks to a team-mate that lives there and so we could start each day reasonably fresh. His parents also cooked us so much food which we were very grateful for.

On the Saturday we had an early start against Brown University. We were pretty shocked when we got to the fields because our pool had been kicked off the main playing fields and we had to play on these really uneven dusty fields. We warmed up carefully and did our best to prevent ourselves against getting any injuries. The game went well and we controlled most of it, my friend Sean got a point block on their 3rd pass of the game and we didn’t really look back from there. The later games against Colorado College and Long Beach went similar ways. We were tested at points but more often than not our big players produced some magic.  We were set up for the final game of the day which was supposed to decide the winner of the pool since it was against Santa Barbara. Davis has a good rivalry with them and that was who they had battled for a spot to Nationals last year with. We also lost to them a few weeks ago on their home turf which we were disappointed with.

As it turned out they had lost one of the games already, meaning they had to win to stay in the championship bracket. The game was very close and I think we went a couple of breaks up after half time. They had a good comeback but we punched in the winning point on Universe (Sudden Death). The game was unfortunately marred by one of the worst injuries I’ve seen in ultimate, and it reminded me of what tragically happened to Robbie. My friend Kramer put in a big vertical bid but somehow landed with a straight left leg that crumpled beneath him. Later on we found out he had broken 3 bones around his ankle, including snapping a fan of ligaments. He’s uncertain if he’ll make it back to play any part of the season and he will be missed by all of us. It was a scary reminder of how fragile your ultimate season can be.

So, Sunday we had progressed to the power pools and had to play Berkeley and Cincinnati. Berkeley have not shown any of their normal prowess that makes them one of the best in our region but we ground out a hard performance to beat them. Cincinnati were also tough but we had found our rhythm and got the win. This meant we set up the quarter-final for the last game of the day vs University of Washington. We knew the game would be tough as they had done better than us at the last tournament and they also had some star players returning from international trials. But the main exciting point about this game was it was going to be observed. 80% of the team were used to this from playing at college nationals but for me and 4 freshmen it was a new experience.  After a briefing from our coach Cissna we took the field and it turned out to be a fiery encounter.

We were matched neck and neck and break for break the entire game. There were some great highlight plays from both sides and there was nothing really to separate us. The observers were getting involved, and I don’t feel like they had a negative impact on the game at all. The biggest difference I found was that it sped things up. Not every call that is made has to go to them, but if you think you are right (which you should if you made the call) then it makes sense. We got caught offside from the pull twice which meant they started with that point with the disc on the half way line, a small penalty but enough to make u stay behind the thrower. The observers were good for calling in or out calls and important endzone toe-ins etc allowing the players to focus on the disc and not have to watch their feet. It could have been my untrained eye, but I was a little worried that in some circumstances the observers would just guess on foul calls and then try to even the decisions out. We only had 2 observers, at opposing corners when some games have one on each corner. Later on there was a play on a disc in a crowded end-zone, and a foul was called and contested. The crowd of players had obstructed the observer and he declined to rule either way meaning the disc went back. Quite a few people got annoyed by this no decision.

It was great when calls were made and the observer almost instantly confirms or overrules it, and the players get back to playing without a lengthy discussion. But I was still glad that the observer didn’t feel pressured to give a decision when he didn’t know. Instead of guessing, he was honest and did not rule on the play. I think that is a really important point with observers, they are not there to rule on every throw or catch, but should be used to avoid tensions escalating between players and improve the accuracy of calls. In other words it’s not the perfect solution but I enjoyed playing with them.

This game also went down to universe point which we started on D. After 2 or 3 passes they fumbled a pass right in in the chest. We then converted with a simple cut for the win and putting us into Semis.

Monday morning we were playing Minnesota Grey Duck, a regular at nationals and so an important test for us. We started well and forced them into some turns, almost breaking them on their first O-point but the huck floated out the back, only to be greatest back in with the flattest greatest throw I’ve ever seen, but it was sadly D’d at the front of the endzone. They were extremely clinical when they turned us and controlled the game because of this. It finished 10-15 to them. We ended the weekend with a similar game for 3rd place vs Colorado Mamabird. They are a really strong team and we went on a run of 3 points at the end to bring it to a 12-15  loss and leaving us 4th place. Aside from the injury, this was a really good tournament for the progression of our season, we are not at the national level we want to be at in May, but we are improving and had bright glimpses of what we can achieve. The next big tournament is 3 weeks away at Stanford invite where we will meet even tougher teams. I will also hopefully be visited by Fetu by then 🙂


“Once a dog, always a Mohawk”


Mohawks Newsletter Week 6

Hey Mohawks young, and slightly older!

I am so sorry firstly for the lack of newsletters recently – they are back due to popular demand!
So what is going on I hear you ask? Well, I will tell you!

Siege of Limerick

Firstly, a HUGE congratulations to the Mohawks who went to Ireland this weekend – they came second, and only lost in the final to Ireland U23’s, which isn’t too shabby at all! I am not the only one who is feeling confident about Regionals in 2 weekend’s time now!!

Open Regionals

On the subject of regionals, please make sure if you want to go you sign up on the forum g-doc Ed posted ASAP if you want a spot! Last year we got a record number of teams going, all doing really well, so lets keep up appearances, yes?

The Aftermath of The Rubiks Cube

So after an awesome party on Wednesday (if you weren’t there, sucks to be you – it was incredible, if not a little weird…) people have a lot of lost clothes. It would really helpful if ALL of you could bring those items you wore home to training on Wednesday so people aren’t apart from their *insert colour here* *insert item of clothing here* for too long!!


This is happening on Wednesday after training – it will be even better with all the Rubiks Cube clothes people have with them – please facebook me if you (a) have a mask you can bring along and (b) if you have a video camera. Get thinking of ideas for what dance you can do!!

Cheers Peeps,

Inappropriate Love from Prossie

P.S – The Album of the Week this week is… there are actually 2 because I have been away too long

1. Stepdad – Wildlife Pop – very similar to bands such as Passion Pit, this is a really fun, synth-indie album from these Americans that is really easy to listen to, with some absolute tunes to boot – also, the lead singer has some fantastic facial hair, and that always means they are going to be amazing, right?!

2. The Bronx – IV – Some great Punk-Rock from these New Yorkers who continue to dominate their field – slightly heavy, but I know some of you love rocking out, and this album does not disappoint – there is nothing wrong with this album apart from the fact it ends to be honest!

PPS – a HUGE congratulations to our very own Alicia Coupland who is now University of Sussex’s very own Equality and Diversity officer! WELL DONE ALICIA!!


Mixed Outdoor Nationals – 16th/17th March – Durham

Hi ‘hawks,

Mixed Outdoor Nationals is fast approaching. I am looking to take a tight team to back-up our recent win of mixed indoor nationals with another strong performance worthy of the pedigree of Mohawks.

I need to know who wants play! Please fill in this GForm:

The tournament is a lot of fun and I want to get as many people to play it as possible. Unfortunately the powers-that-be have not been kind to us and have put this tournament miles and miles up north in Durham. Therefore we have a general transport problem, and taking two teams could be tricky and expensive, however if enough people are enthusiastic about playing then I will see what I can do.

Regardless of your experience, if you want be considered for a spot on a Mohawks team at University Mixed Outdoor Nationals then please fill in the form!

Shimmy x

That GForm again:

Blog Posts

Indoor Zone: What’s the point?

In previous years, my thinking about indoor zone has gone a little like this. What’s the point? A good offence will always beat zone, because there are spaces, and often there is less pressure than an intense man defence. Pressure gets you blocks, so why give it up?

This statement is true apart from one specific point. That phrase doesn’t work with ‘a good offence’ – it only is true with ‘a perfect offence’. And in uni ultimate, and probably the rest of ultimate, there is no such thing as a perfect offence.

Equally, not practicing zone means that we don’t really get that much practice of playing against it, which means we struggle when we come up against it at big tournaments.

This year, I’ve come across several fantastic opportunities, where we really should have played zone but couldn’t, and some very clever uses of it by other teams. Put frankly, I still don’t like it as a defence, and it sure as heck makes games boring to watch, but as a club we need to be realistic: zone has its uses, and we need to be able to beat it.

Before going into the details of any particular zone (we’ll be teaching one or two this week), I just wanted to outline what I think the ‘point’ of zone is, especially indoors.

There are three main points of zone (indoors), as far as I see it – though I’m very open to other suggestions (comments below!). The first is to eat clock. The second is to get cheap blocks. The third is to just plain screw stuff up.

Clock Eating

This is a purpose which is almost entirely unique to indoors. Indoors, when the buzzer goes, it’s game over – meaning that once you get a lead, keeping it is enough to win the game. Being ahead when the buzzer goes wins you the game. Outdoors is different, because to win the game, you have to score the winning point (in Europe; the US have some crazy time cap stuff, which I have no experience of so won’t comment on).

A good man offence against a good man defence often scores relatively quickly, but a good zone offence against a good zone defence generally has to wait far longer to generate chances at the endzone, meaning that even a good team can take a while to score against a competent zone. Clock eating becomes really useful when you have a lead in a game, and you just want to slow down the other team, and make sure they don’t score too many points too quickly – Nottingham pulled this on our women’s team at indoor nationals this year, while up by about 3 points, and it was a great call, making a comeback almost impossible in the time window of an indoor game. It’s also useful if a team is mounting a bit of a comeback against your man defence, and you want to break up their flow.

A good example of a zone well-suited to this, for people who have experienced it, is the classic ‘force-middle’ or ‘force-poach’ Mohawks zone, which is also played by Sublime. There’s always a free pass – it’s just a boring one to the other handler. If you’re playing a patient team, this zone is a poor choice when you’re down – you’re letting them do the thing they want to do, which is play catch indefinitely until time is over. If you’re up, it’s a great call, regardless of how patient a team is – their patience will work against them, as time runs out and they end up taking too long to score each point to mount a convincing comeback.


Cheap Blocks

Another pretty handy purpose of zone is that it can get you cheap blocks. At university level, lots of teams will have several less experienced players on their team, and it takes experience to clock a zone as it comes down at you. Often throwing a zone can put a team off-balance, and cause them to turnover as they attempt to organise their offence and adapt to a new D.

An example of this is a zone we used at women’s in previous years – while the ‘force-poach’ zone above leaves relatively few holes upfield and gives up a lot of easy passes around the disc (which lets the handlers buy time while upfield clocks onto what is going on), this zone encourages the disc into a high-pressure area of the pitch (the line) and clamps down on easy short passes, looking relatively similar to man defence for the handlers. Upfield, there are more spaces, and looser defenders – but if upfield don’t realise early on that it is zone, the handler with the disc is pretty stuffed and has only a high risk pass to a cutter who may not even be looking at them. Mostly, we got our turnovers on the first pass of possessions with this zone – either the high-risk throw gets blocked or the handlers turnover between themselves.


Oh No, I Need to Think

Some indoor offences are very slick, and very difficult to defend against effectively in man. A good example of this is playing a team quicker than you, which runs a fast-moving handler weave (where two or three players work the disc quickly between them up to the endzone). However, this kind of slick offence comes from extensive, and often almost exclusive, drilling of this offence. Chances are this team has no Plan B – if they can’t run you into the ground, they’re not entirely sure what to do.

Playing zone can be an effective way to screw up highly planned and structured offences (like handler weave) – by forcing teams to think and adjust to your defence, you dictate the speed and flow of the game. Even for teams who don’t rely on one very structured offence, forcing them out of their offensive plan is a good move. Mixing up defences is often very effective, as forcing players to think and adapt can disrupt their ability to generate flow. At a recent one day indoor tournament in London, Mo 1 Mixed played zone for every first defensive point – not because we love zone, but because it disrupted and unsettled the other team’s offence. We didn’t always get blocks, and we didn’t always convert our blocks, but it was pretty effective at putting teams on the back foot from the start.

There isn’t a specific zone that is great for throwing spanners in the works of offences – really, any zone which surprises your opponent should do the trick. If you’ve been playing the same zone all weekend, for every point, anyone who does any scouting or talks to any team you’ve played will know to expect it: nobody in our region is shocked when a Kent team plays zone on them. But if you throw it randomly into a game, sometimes even swapping between zones, boy is that gonna freak out the offence.


So, hopefully that starts giving you some idea of why zone is actually, in spite of how boring it makes games, quite useful indoors, and are convinced that you should show up on Friday so we can teach you a couple…


Friday, 2-4pm, Sports Centre.


Friday Indoor Sessions

Hi all,

Over the next few Friday sessions, I’ll be coaching some basic principles of playing, and playing against, zone indoors. These sessions will be open to everyone in the club, but we’ll be focusing on developing the knowledge and skills of our newer members in particular.

The first session is this Friday2 til 4pm in Hall 1 in the Sports Centre (right near where we have outdoor training). All you’ll need is a pair of clean indoor trainers, a light and a dark shirt, and your brain!

It’s a great opportunity for any first or second years to learn the fundamentals of zone, and a chance for anyone more experienced to brush up their knowledge and get some practice.

Before Friday, I’m also going to get a short piece up on some of the ideas behind zone, especially indoors. It’s not required reading before the session (I’ve been a seminar tutor, I know how futile that is!), but it might help you to know some basic stuff about what’s going on, why we might use zone and so on.

Hope to see you all there!