Tonight is a night that I’ve been looking forward to for a few weeks and it marks the start of a somewhat frustrating season. Tonight is the start of the WODS Fall Hat League. Like in many places in the world we run a hat league where teams are randomized and balanced. Unlike other places in the world we have every skill level from players that have never played before to National and International touring players on each team.
The premise behind Fall league is to improve the skill level of all players through coaching and guidance from top players in the region. This is especially beneficial to our local league as we’ve had many more people take up touring Ultimate in the summer due in part to a proper introduction to the sport. In the past team captains came from Liquid (we still have some team captains from Liquid) and players playing in the league have also moved up to Liquid after developing their skills further; it’s a program that works. Our fall league has also lead to new members on our Board of Directors which has moved into a position where we have volunteers and non-board members handling most of our league tasks.
The key to the fall season is not skill development, per-say, but development of the team mentality. Players must learn to recognize their weaknesses and develop them for the benefit of the team. Players must also learn how to cut with others around them, create space, match up with appropriate defenders, dump and swing, and in general learn quite a bit of Ultimate in quite a short period of time. To that end we (WODS) have appointed a Director of Development (Greg Matthews) who is responsible for a curriculum that all teams follow. All teams also follow the lesson plan on each night so both teams are developing the same skills.
Sounds like quite a bit of fun, doesn’t it? It’s not. As a touring player I’ve played fall league to keep in shape and it has been frustrating. So why do I do it? It has to be done. Sport development isn’t easy nor fun, it’s hard work and instruction in all weather conditions with people who have more important things in their lives. It’s worth it because almost every player that plays in our Fall league returns for one of our other leagues. You can’t get people involved by removing yourself from the picture.
Get involved in your local leagues, you don’t need to put much time in but try to instruct people, organize pickup games, attend tournaments with teams that could use your help even if you want to sit at home and watch TV that weekend; they’ll appreciate it and you’ll have fun at the same time.