Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Oh boy, here I go reinventing my throwing form again

Since I was a sophmore in high school, I wanted to have the biggest throws. Constantly trying to hit 100 yards with my backhand, hucking forehands as far as possible for goals, huck turnovers instead of easy swings and unders. Dedicated most of my throwing practice to pure power and developing form to support it. This more or less worked out - I had one thing I could mostly do really well, and the emphasis on full body form that I was able to develop allowed for pretty solid breakmark throws as I got older and more experienced. 

But anyone who reads this knows the weaknesses my game had - over reliance on hucking, telegraphing, lots of turnovers (especially when I was tilted or having a bad field vision game). Leaning on low release IO hucks made it tough to play on days with unfavorable wind conditions. 

Last season I got much better at handling adverse wind but still fell victim to ugly release point patterns. I used to focus very much on release points as a binary system of low to high - and got stuck conflating release angles with very proscribed release points. For instance, I thought OI hucks had to be released high, IO throws always low.

This year I'm reinventing my throws using Kung Fu Throwing as praxis, especially its emphasis on release points far away from the body. Learning to release far away with all throws, release OI throws low, develop more angles for IO. I want to be unblockable. I want to break any mark in any wind condition. I want crisp flat throws to under cuts, and hucks that are dictated by finesse instead of power. I have power for days. I need better disc skills.

After practicing with the youths today, I can say the kung fu is starting to pay off. Had some of the most excellent away from the body backhand hucks I can remember throwing in years. Want more. With a scoober on top. 

As soon as you decide you're done learning, you're done. I stopped actively learning about throwing from 2012 to 2014. Throwing is now at the core of my weekly activity again. I love it. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Return to Slush Kingdom

Winter in New York does not favor participation in recreational sports. Nearly every indoor league it would be possible to participate in takes place during my workday. Ah well. Treadmill season. The daily grind, one foot in front of the other. Why? To reduce the wrath of winter depression. Why? Because being in shape and playing ultimate is fun. Why? Pizza.

What went on since the last time I put pressure on these keys? Regionals came and went in a drunken blur of friday night tequila shooters and trolling. I was on the wagon at the time, and considered myself ready to play an even better tournament than I had at sectionals. This did not occur. In retrospect, two things have salved my ego - 1. we scored a few times on the nationals champions (whatever, gotta hang my hat on something) and 2. I figured out why my forehands were so bad - the horse stomp. Elsewhere noted, this comical movement is a truncated bastardization of proper forehand hucking form, which should be a smooth transition of power from legs to wrist. The horse stomp basically put all my leg power from one leg into the other without adding a force vector to the throw, and to compensate I threw harder from the arm. This lead to really ugly shanked OI throws, and chronic arm and ankle injuries. Lol.

The answer? Step farther, smoother, not hard, engage the core more, engage the arm less, tighter grip, harder writs snap. I had good form at sectionals, lost it at regionals. Given the one day nature of the tournament, there was not time to correct it. Also, my mental game collapsed partway through the tournament and didn't really rebound. Our collective mentality was not sharp either, and its obvious why, but that's not a public conversation. The secret recipe of Fat and Mediocre is not for everybody's pizza.

Captained Brooklyn fall league, my first time drafting a team. Most of the scouting fell to my co captain and girlfriend, who knows more city players, but both of us contributed to the final roster. Grabbed Henry off the DL comically late, I knew if he even showed up to one game it would be huge. When the draft was done I declared with classic #77 bravardo "this team is going to finals". After a slow first few weeks building chemistry we did indeed chug through the regular season with a third place finish. On finals day, we unseated the practically undefeated 1 seed in a universe point semi (ego stroke: final point? Upwind 50 yard forehand huck to Henry for the hockey assist. Boom). We lost in finals to the only team we were never able to defeat. It was an incredible season, one of my favorite ever league teams (and Brooklyn fall league has consistently been excellent). I liked being a captain again, with less stakes than a club season its easier to focus on being a leader and helping young players. Maybe I'll do it again in the spring.

The alumni game! Fell during a manic bender, and I rolled into New Paltz on no sleep with a questionable BAC. Huge group of alumni this year. Got to huck to Zach a few times, it did not feel fair. No horse stomping that day. Really great time, the young New Paltz team has some pretty athletic kids. Hoping we can bring a few more of them along with us this club season. Definitely want to try and run a clinic for them in the Spring. Maybe we can get a few Fat and Mediocre dudes down there. The team photo in front of Mohonk Mountain is one of my all time favorite memories of the GUNX.

It has sure been a wild year. Personally, there's a few main things I'm feeling good and blessed about, staring down the barrel of 2017. For starters, I can honestly say that I found my footing in the city. This involves having found a new home with a great roommate, getting more plugged into the ultimate scene, and getting on top of things at my job. I ran 7 art events at my new space, coached over 50 youth players, and provided field space for over 200 more to play high school games and practice. Building on foundations I was barely aware of building at the time, in 2014 and 2015. Life happens while you're busy paying attention to other things, or however that saying goes.

I went a little off the rails for a while - about 5 months of the year, to be exact. On the upside, I've learned to trust my own instincts and self reliance, while becoming more open to seeking help from the people I can truly count on. That's a blessing.

This year, no dire resolutions and no Ben Gibbard lyrics. Just the basics, more of what is working and less of what is not. More fitness, more practice, more time set aside for sleeping and painting and good friends. Less self abuse, less anxious avoidance of problems and roadblocks. Hopefully a few more blog posts. I've let a few good ones blow away in the wind of action, written in my head and the forgotten. More writing.

Best year yet for painting and ultimate both. Have not felt like this since 2012. Its nice.
Happy 2017, blog friends.




Thursday, September 8, 2016

Lay on Macduff

Going to regionals this weekend with Fat and Mediocre. Here are some things to focus on:

-Going to the disc - weak zones and lack of intensity from the defenses we faced (during the games I got to play) at sectionals allowed me to cut lazily off the pull or just stand there - any team we play Saturday will be hustling harder. Small, vital adjustment of making sure to go to.

-Pacing the offense - we do really well when we play relaxed, patient offense - something will open up. Again, less margin for error - I got away with some nonsense against inexperienced defenders, like in the Army game, and some dumb luck in the PoNY game. When we take the right shot, it basically always works. Offense is easy.

-Fat and Mediocre is powered by friendship. Our mental game is unblastable. We proved that beyond a doubt at sectionals. I've never felt more comfortable playing club. Every player is responsible for the mental and emotional tenor of the team, and we don't have to ever talk about it.
We have fun.

-Don't bid like an idiot and dislocate your shoulder. Do attack the disc aggressively and safely.

It is very exciting that one of GUNX's young players is getting to compete at club regionals. We are giving back to our college program. Mental note, find more actionable ways to contribute to the young GUNX. It is very easy to get to New Paltz.

This spring I will be coaching a high school team for the first time. With a few months to get ready, I'm thinking about how I can do the best possible job. Since I'll be coaching the JV team, I will have a system in place to work on getting my players ready to plug into. That takes the pressure off a bit. My main concern is to be a good role model. Definitely need to brush up on the rulebook too.

Assistant coaching has changed my own game so much. Teaching reinforces habit. I throw best when I'm thinking about throwing a lot, and to teach it you have to think about it. I taught forehand pretty well last season. I taught backhand badly. This is directly tied to my own skillset. Since then, been working on fixing my backhand so that I can teach it better in the spring.

For the fall, I'll be coaching youth two days a week, with the option to play pickup on Mondays. Signed up for two fall leagues, one as a captain. First time drafting a team. Plenty of ultimate to look forward to, but its important to remember what it is all about - avenging our crushing defeat in the Gunxgiving alumni game. Gunxgiving IX will be a showdown.

Pizza Time.
<3 77

PS reading through old blog posts is more hilarious than ever, less painful. I was so dang conclusive about things! Hindsight is hard because I have a big butt. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bummer Blog

The weight of time since last blogging have crushed every post I've tried to write since. Now I'm coming up short. I trained for a year to make a run at Empire and likewise, came up short. That was hard but still felt good, because I got feedback about how much I'd improved since last year's tryout. At least that's progress.

Unfortunately, real adult life intervened since then and forced me to drop out of the tryout process for Youngbloods. Can't get my work schedule adjusted and all their practices are Saturdays, which I am stuck working for the second summer in a row. Could not even go to the tryout tournament. It is looking like this will be my first summer in six years not playing club. That's weird. 

The irony is, I'm in the best shape of my life and have the best functional throws I've ever had too. I finally figured out how to throw forehand hucks again and my break throws are so sick right now, dude. But no club, and no summer league in Brooklyn this year. Mentally, my new challenge ultimate wise will be keeping up the fitness grind without the motivation of a club season, and setting up my life so that I'll be both fit and able to play next year. Next fucking year, that's a long time away. 

On the upside my art is going really well, that's my main priority anyway, but it still hurts losing the club season. If I had at least been able to finish the tryout process and gotten cut, I would have avoided the "what if" now hanging over my head. I thought I had a good shot. Oh well. On to the next one, like we used to sing in the southside days. 

I used to train halfheartedly and inconsistently, but now I workout every week and am trying to learn as much as I can, and train intelligently. I'm thinking of getting certified to become a personal trainer or functional strength coach. That would be a cool as hell job. Progress is the name of the game. 

Stay up, ya'll. 


Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 Redux

Two weeks until the first event of Empire tryouts. I'm doing almost everything I can to play at my best, but I need to step it up and go the extra mile. Winning takes lots and lots of work. I've never won much. This might be the year. I'm working for it.

This past year, I got better at juggling job work, ultimate work and art work, producing increasingly well at all three at once, and am continuing to build on that. To make Empire, I'm going to have to be all about ultimate for a while, without lapsing in my practice of art or my job performance. Right on. Life has conditions, accept them and work or complain about them and fail. Its not simple. Pithy advice and inspirational quotes fall short because practice of positive life goals is easy to reduce to witty one liners about inspiration that actually make you feel worse about all the work you have to do, every day, to achieve real results. Its all about practice.

It is easy to write about the struggle to get better at ultimate but my physical game's improvement is contingent upon strengthening my mental health, and that's harder to write about. I started seeing a psychiatrist again, a good one this time. That's helped a lot. Finding medication that is helping me feel better has been a blessing. My initial experience with various kinds of medication was so horrible that it took me a year to try again. This time its working, and I can focus better, train better. I can make plays now I could not have made even at my best in college. I have a competitive drive now that is focused. I want to win.

Bring on 2015.
Big ups to the blog friends.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Got to throw outside last night, barely anyone came to pickup due to the new winter league starting but we got some mini in at McCarren. I figured out why my short backhands got bad, been throwing them really close to the body with all wrist. Really easy to mess a throw like that up, and I had a few at turkey bowl that just got blown away too high. So I practiced for about a half hour working on really stepping out and using arm length. Throws seemed to improve, but if I want to be seriously competitive I need to devote more time to throwing in general, at least once a week. My forehand is huge. Hucks on both sides looked good but without a mark its hard to tell, really. In mini I was able to get any throw off I wanted, but again hard to tell. No one was marking too hard. Still, fun to get out there. I made some plays that indicate my workout routine is paying off.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

I love the name ultimate Frisbee. I don't like ultimate, or flatball. They lack something, strive to be something they are not - respectively, simple and legitimate. Both fall short. Ultimate Frisbee is the perfect name for the perfect sport for our reality. The name is schlocky and appropriative, like a loud tv commercial. It flows, it is in your face. It is a little silly, but all sport names are silly. They have been made serious by time, only. Football. Hockey. Think about it.

Ultimate is art. Throwing is calligraphic, catching is punctuation. Cutting is a dance - an ugly one mostly. Its a little rough. Sharp angles, unintentional collisions. Patterns that shift moment by moment, he best players are the ones who can recognize each for what it is, and be ready to shift into the next one, to dictate, to ride and control the flow of movement.

Speaking of movement, you know when you lie down after a long day driving or roller-skating and you still feel like you're moving? I'm feeling that. Probably means that its time to stop watching comedy on youtube and go to bed. Good chat ya'll.