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by Matt Dufort

First things first—calling subs for a competitive team is a big job. It will take a lot away from anyone's playing ability. There may be someone out there who can play at their best and call subs at the same time, but I haven't met them. Because of this, I think it's better to split sub-calling duties between two or three players, or expect that the person calling subs is not going to play very much. 

To me, the most important element of sub-calling is being prepared. You should know pretty well before the tournament starts who's going to play, how much, and in what situations. You need to leave room for adjustment based on how each person is playing at the moment, but having an idea beforehand is a huge help. 

Sub-calling sheets are great. A simple grid works well, with the players listed on the side, and points across the top. You can easily see how many points each person's played, how long they've been in or out. Grouping handlers, cutters, defenders together also helps. It's pretty easy to add basic stats to such a grid, and to get your next line ready during the point. In a game with strict time limits, you should ideally have an O line and a D line ready before the point ends. If you need to change one or two people, that's much easier than picking a full seven. 

When it comes to picking players for each line, subbing should be strategic, over the course of the game and the tournament. If your defense is forcing lots of turnovers but having trouble scoring, you can bring over a more offensive-minded player. In general, you want your best players to be in when you need them, but rested enough that they're still going strong in finals or that last backdoor game of Regionals. This strategy will vary depending on your team's composition, but here's one example of what I mean. 

For many of its years at the top of the Open ultimate scene, Furious George has been a top-heavy team. Their best five or six players were better than anyone else's, and they knew it. But they couldn't play those guys every point, so most of the time they'd mix them in with role players (who were, granted, also very good). A couple times a game, they'd put most or all of their strongest players in for one defensive point, with the intention of getting a break on that one point. It usually worked. Against the consistent offenses in the elite game, defensive breaks are enormously important. One break can be the difference between a win and a loss, and a huge momentum swing. By targeting particular points for breaks, Furious George was able to maintain a high level of play throughout games and tournaments, but bring it up one big step when it counted the most. 

huddle Issue 9 Sub-Calling

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

A Basic Checklist
by Gwen Ambler

Be Careful What You Wish For
by Tully Beatty

The Best Sub-Caller Is...
by Lou Burruss

by Matt Dufort

Practical Considerations
by Adam Goff

Empowering The Team With Self Subbing
by Greg Husak

Elocution & Enunciation
by Andy Lovseth

For Your Team, Not Your Teammates
by Ryan Morgan

Prepare Your Team For The Hard Decisions
by Mike Mullen

My Sub-Calling Philosophies
by Miranda Roth

The Pod System
by Mike Whitaker




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