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Use All Of Your Players

by Peri Kurshan

I believe that what makes a team successful is its ability to use all of its players. Most good teams have a few superstars- those players that are game-changers and whose absence can really hurt the team's chances. However, the difference between good teams and great teams, I believe, lies in how the team utilizes its role players. Ultimate is truly a team sport, and if the top players on a team aren't supported by a solid and confident group of role players, the team will have many exploitable weaknesses. 

For clarity, I'm defining a role player as someone who doesn't have top-notch skills in every facet of their game (although hopefully they have top-notch skills in at least one part of their game, or else they're unlikely to get on the field much!). 

So how do you use and build up your role players? First of all, everyone on the team must be given a role that plays to their strengths. Secondly, everyone must know exactly what their role is (and isn't!). If everyone on the team is asked to do the same things, and expected to achieve to the same degree, then some people are being set up to fail- you'll be asking them to do things that they're not able to do. And with failure comes lack of confidence, which causes more failure, etc. Instead, the team strategy should be designed to maximize the number of times players are put in situations in which they are likely to succeed. This means the strategy should depend on which players are on the field, and conversely, which players are on the field should depend on your strategy for that point. If your strength is being a great receiver, you should be expected to cut deep a lot, but then the team should make sure you have a high-percentage option to throw to. If your strength is as a big thrower, you might be expected to take more risks with your throws than other team members. If everyone is clear as to what they are and aren't expected to do, people will be able to set themselves up to succeed as much as possible. 

So how do players ever improve, if they're only asked to do the things they're already good at? This is a very important question to address, since pigeon-holing players into very specific roles can lead to them getting frustrated and bored, or at the very least to slowing their improvement. On our team, we divide the season into two halves. In the first half of the season, everyone is encouraged to work on expanding their game. We focus a lot on fundamentals, and teach the same things to everyone. This doesn't mean that everyone has a green light to go crazy. Rather, people are encouraged to work on things that are just outside their comfort zones, so that they push the envelope and work on expanding their repertoire. In the second half of the season, we ask people to take stock of where they are. The team leadership works with individuals to clearly outline roles and expectations that will enable the team and the individuals to maximize their rate of success.

huddle Issue 15 Roles Players

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Roles Can Be Difficult To Observe
by Jeff Eastham-Anderson

Build From Versatile, Athletic Players
by Lindsey Hack

Needs Of The Team And The Individual
by Greg Husak

Use All Of Your Players
by Peri Kurshan

Roles From Necessity
by Kirk Savage

What Is A Role Player?
by Charlie Reznikoff

Using The Best Part Of Each Player
by Miranda Roth

Is There Any Hope For The Specialist?
by Seth Wiggins




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