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Thoughts from Chris Ashbrook

by Chris Ashbrook

Do young players have any chance of making the team as an offensive player? 

Absolutely. There are a number of college players that have now played on club teams while still in college (Watson, Heijman, Cahill, Gibson, etc), some while in high school. These players are usually the best offensive players on their teams and have been to college nationals, at least once, if not multiple times. Although they may have inexperience on the club seen, they have crunch time experience and are able to eventually translate that to the club scene. 

What about as a handler? As a hucker? What would they have to show you to prove their worth? 

If you are a handler, you must be composed and make the right throw. This means understanding what the offense is trying to accomplish and what your role is in accomplishing this goal. Upon understanding the goal, the second part is to actually make the decision to make the throw that completes the goal of your offense. Finally, the handler should know the throws in their repertoire. 

Understanding what the offense is trying to accomplish and your role to me is key. By understanding the offense, you are able to position yourself for the dump cut (or any cut) that will allow the thrower to make an easy completion and retain the disc. After receiving the disc, this means that you know where other people will be cutting so that you can keep the disc moving to your big throwers. 

When watching handlers, I am ok with turnovers during tryouts when the handler made the the throw easy for the person with the disc and subsequently made the right decision in where to throw the disc. Sometimes the throw isn't complete, it happens to everyone. However, if the throw is habitually not completed, catching the disc and making the right decision will take you only so far in the tryout process. 

What I am not ok with is: 

  1. When the handler looks off a throw that should have been made within the frame of the receiver; or
  2. Tries a throw that is not in their repertoire (even if completed). This shows to me a lack of confidence in their throwing ability, not understanding the offense, and/or lack of decision-making abilities.
For a hucker, this is usually a down field player. They need to have the ability to gain yards and time their cuts. More importantly, they must be able to make a consistently good choice and throw. 

Note, not every huck is a good huck. This should be made known to the hucker and if they continue to make hucks that are low percentage as they fall out of the framework of your offense, they may not make the team. 

Is calm, conservative play better? Or do you want to see highlight reel moves, throws, and catches? 

I want to see the player play to the best of his skills, abilities, and within the framework of the offense. The highlight reel plays will be a byproduct of doing so. 

Say you are a young player with a specialty throw (something out of thenormal repertoire). You are confident in that throw, but it doesn't really fit easily into a team's offense (rather, they could change how they play to take advantage of this talent). Should you show this in tryout scrimmages? 

I would recommend throwing it only when the situation dictates. To throw it in any other circumstance, most likely will be a very low percentage throw and probably be looked down upon. However, if you are able to identify the situations in which the throw is highly effective and has a high completion percentage I would be looking for a way to implement it only in certain circumstances (such as a stopped disc). 

What is most important; practices or tournaments? 

Practices are more important. Here the captains are able to explain and work on the skills that are important to their offensive and defensive and philosophies. This gives the captains the opportunity to view which players can and will fit into their style of play. It also gives them the opportunity to identify the weaknesses of the tryouts within their structure. 

The tournament should be more of a confirmation that the player either is capable, or is incapable of performing their role on the team. 

How should tryouts behave and carry themselves? Some captains and coaches love people that ask a ton of questions, and others want people that want a lot of feedback. Or give their opinions. Or are silent, strong teammates. What are you looking for? Does the personality of a player figure large into whether they can make the team? What about an obnoxious player with tremendous talent? 

Always ask questions, always ask for feedback. Most of the captains I know are more than willing to provide that feedback. 

In ultimate, I have found that personalities always figure into whether or not the player makes the team. Two players of equal talent, the one who fits in personality wise with the team will most likely make it over someone that does not fit in well personality wise. 

Does everyone try out, or are returning players safe? 

On every team, you know pretty much that the top 10 (or possibly more) will be returning. So it is then up to the captains to let those players who are on the bubble know and tell them what they need to do to make the team. 

In general, when evaluating the bottom half of the roster, the question I ask is whether or not the tryout would significantly improve the team over a returning player. If the answer is no, then the returner will most likely retain his spot. The reason for this is that the returner has history with the team, understands the offense, defense, and his role on the team. There are a number of intangibles the returner could possibly bring back. But there is always the flip side, so you can never take your position on the team as a returner for granted. 

How long are your tryouts? Is this optimal? 

6 - 8 practices and includes a tournament so that you can confirm your thoughts on the player. 

Is there anything about the tryout process that you think teams should do more often? 

During the tryout process I would like to see teams work on the basic skillset of their tryouts (and their current players included). Then work the skillset into their offensive and defensive philosophies. This allows you to identify areas in which the players excel and where they are lacking. 

For instance, you might run a hucking drill to see who can actually huck with consistency. You would then explain how the huck drill fits into your offensive philosophy and the types of looks you want to take. This allows you to identify those who can huck, then actually huck in the framework of your offense during scrimmages and tournaments (confirmation) successfully. 


huddle Issue 2 Trying Out

Tuesday, May 28th, 2008
Thoughts From Chris Ashbrook
by Chris Ashbrook

Answers To All Of These Questions
by Tully Beatty

Play To Your Best, Tone Down The Rest
by Lou Burruss

Things To Focus On At Any Level
by Jeff Graham

Go After Similar, More Experienced Players
by Greg Husak

Focus On What You Can Control
by Ryan Morgan

Hard Work Stands Out
by Miranda Roth

Strong Fundamentals Trump Team Needs
by Nancy Sun

Athleticism First, Attitude Close Behind
by Chris Talarico

Thoughts From Team USA Tryouts
by Ben van Heuvelen

Perspective From The Team & From A Player
by Ben Wiggins




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