Holiday Learning – Focus

So, you’re home for the holidays, and you’re bored and no-one back home plays frisbee. You’re gonna suck when you get back to uni, right? Wrong! Aside from option 1 (take your disc out, throw by yourself), there are many other ways to keep learning about ultimate, even if you’ve got less opportunities to play… Like reading my ideas about defence, say…

Focus – and the weirdest drill you’ll ever do

Last weekend, I played a tournament in the Netherlands with a mixed team, who I had played either little or not at all with. Needless to say, even if I wasn’t pretty crap at indoors, I wouldn’t have been too much use on offence. Mostly I ran around and played D, which was fun – and I was pretty successful, I realised on Monday on my way home. I didn’t get scored on open side the entire weekend.

Now, as defensive tournaments go, I’m pretty happy with that, but it’s also raised an interesting point when talking to Fetu about it, which was the importance of focus on defence, especially indoors.

The last time Squaws were in the top 8 indoors, I believe we got there with defence. We were next to every catch, we were hardly broken, and we were intense. In recent years, we’ve lost that intensity, and you can see it in the footage of the last Skunks possession from outdoor nats – we’re sort of trying to beat our women under, to the open side, but we stuff up quite a few times, before they turn over due to the wind. Mostly, this works for us outdoors – our defence is good enough to force quite small throws, and keep forcing them (even if they are to the open side) until the wind or an error from the other team does our work for us.

Indoors, this defence sucks. There’s no wind, which not only means no wind-assisted turnovers, but also means that errors from the other team are rarer. There are less drops, less turfed discs. Equally, there is far, far less space. The proportion of the pitch our opposition gain outdoors against our D is insufficient to trouble us – the endzone is still at least half a pitch away. Indoors, they’ve scored from about two thirds as many open side throws as we let them make outdoors.

We can play better defence than this – and a lot of it is down to an ability to focus intensely on the job at hand – not getting beaten to the open side. Outdoors, a lapse in focus is a reset stallcount. Indoors, a lapse in focus is a score.

Focus is an odd ability. Some people seem to have it, others don’t. What’s important is not how good you are at it right now – but how much you practice it. Which leads me to the weirdest drill ever.

Next time you’re walking by yourself or on the bus or train, find a sign or point of interest to focus on. Fix your gaze on this object – but don’t think about it. All you’re doing is looking at it, without thinking about anything else, or even about it. At some stage, you’ll either pass this object, or (more likely) lose your focus – a thought will pop into your mind. When that happens, the drill is over. Take a moment to have some scrambled thoughts, then clear them away and refocus on a new sign. Repeat for the rest of your journey, until you almost miss your stop and have to clamber over a pushchair to get out of the train.

You will look weird, and like you are someone who is bizarrely fascinated by mundane objects. But you will get more practiced at focusing, and at blurring out the world around you and your own thoughts while doing so.

Outdoors, you don’t *need* as much focus – there’s bigger spaces involved so the benefits of speed and athleticism become greater in relation to it. But extra ability to focus will always do you good, whatever surface you’re playing D on, so get practicing.

Note – drill totally stolen borrowed from ultimate techniques and tactics.


  • Ben Rich

    Megan went a bit crazy on her way home yesterday.. Completely agree that focus is really important though.. I love getting right into a D point and doing everything I can. I think there are some games too where I can get into it more than others.. such a mental thing.. like megan.. a little bit mental 😛

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