Fill Those Boots or Change The Shoe Size
Last year the first team had a play called skittles. I’m not going to tell you what it is or how it works (in case they wanna use it again; ask a first teamer if you’re a Mohawk and curious), but what I am going to point out is that it is a play built around Callum’s throws. Most plays ‘require’ stuff without us really realising it – God, for example, requires handlers with reliable overheads and a goon also capable of throwing – and this one requires Mancake’s particular abilities. It would require quite significant adaptation to work for our women’s team. For the open team this coming year, they face the choice of training someone to match Callum’s throws (a tall order), adaptation, or simply junking it.
It’s difficult to junk a play, or even an entire strategy set, that has worked for you in the past. It’s difficult to remember to return to strategies which you did not have the personnel for in previous years, but now may have. But in university ultimate, with player turnover and variability what it is, it’s essential to keep evaluating what you have in your skill set as a team.
Some skills and player positions are vital. You need people who are cool and collected on the disc. You need players who are going to get free for you upfield. You need players who are going to get you blocks. You are going to need some people with longer throws and some people with breaks. And to an extent you can train this stuff in your players – you can put an emphasis on teaching second years to huck, to break, to get free as a dump, in order to replace yourself as a handler. You can in effect hope that the kids grow into your boots.
But some boots are just too big to fill in one go. As an example for the first team, it is entirely feasible that we could train someone up to have as good breaks or handler movement in general as Callum. But it’s more difficult to train someone for the same monstrous distance, or to have the natural advantage of being a lefty and therefore getting several cheap backhand hucks each game before teams cotton on.
The trick then is working out what is teachable and moulding your team plays and strategy to what you have this year. The big trick is working out what you’re gonna have the year after that and making sure you’re training people up for that too.
Hey, don’t look at me like that. I didn’t say it was easy.