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Athleticism First, Attitude Close Behind

by Chris Talarico

The most important things I want to see from a tryout are, in no particular order:

  • Athleticism/speed
  • Field sense
  • Confidence with the disc
  • Ability & willingness to take direction

The first point speaks for itself. If a player can't run fast, jump, layout, and exhibit a reasonable level of body control, they don't stand much of a chance. 

For field sense, I want to see that a player knows where the next pass is likely to go. A couple examples:

  • While on defense, if his man gets a swing pass, does he get upfield and take away the continue pass before getting tight on the mark?
  • Does he keep himself in a position to see both his man and the thrower?
  • On offense, does he clear space if he's not cutting?
  • Does he set up a deep strike when he sees a handler make an open up-line cut?
  • Is he in position to receive a continue pass after a break-side dump?

Of course these could go on and on, but what a tryout needs to show is that he's aware of what's happening on the field, and knows where he needs to be. 

I guess confidence with the disc speaks for itself as well. No matter what position someone may want to play, they need to be able to complete passes when faced with a tough, aggressive mark. Shaky forehands and rushed dump passes aren't going to cut it. 

The last point about taking direction is part personality/attitude, part on-field ability. The on-field part involves being able to adjust your style of play. Too often I've encountered the problem where a particular defense is called on the line, but is not executed during the point. I want to see a player that doesn't get beat deep when the call is to force your man underneath. I want to see a player be able to change their mark to take away an I-O, if that's what has been called, or to instead stop the 'around.' A player needs to be able to holster a huck - even if it's wide open - if the call is to play conservatively. The longer I've played, the more important I've found this last point to be. It's incredibly difficult to win if everyone on the field is not on the same page. 

Those are the main things I look for at tryouts. 

As for the player with the fancy throws... as far as I'm concerned, tryouts are not a venue to display "trick" throws, or to take chances with any kind of throw. Disc possession is more important in elite ultimate than at any other level. You're far less likely to get the disc back if you turn it over, so you've got to prove that you have the ability to complete passes before you show off your newfangled whatchamacallit. I like forehands and backhands... call me crotchety and conservative, but I'm far more inclined to take a player on my team who can complete a safe pass 100% of the time vs. a player who will attempt more difficult throws and turn it over occasionally. 

Admittedly, that makes for a bit of a stifling situation for a new player who regards himself as a thrower. But really, anyone can take chances - I think a tryout needs to first show that they're capable of playing turnover-free ultimate before opening it up. 


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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