Friday, April 30, 2010

Emotions (Part 2)

A collection of random thoughts:

Wanting it
Even though I play better when I'm happy and relaxed, when it comes time to big tournaments, it's difficult to stay loose and calm. In big games or tournaments, there's something at stake, a goal to achieve, whether it's a team goal of making it to the next round, or a personal goal you have to be awesome. Everyone, teammates and coaches alike, is more tense, more excited, and more fired up. You've heard that teams have won because they "wanted it more," right? There's definitely truth to that. For me there is a balance between staying calm (throwing accurately and making good decisions) and being fired up and intense. I feel like it's hard for me to do both. =P

I'm awesome!
I think people play awesome when they think they're awesome. Sluts and I were talking about this the other day... successful athletes are all a bit arrogant. You play well when you believe you can play well. You have to be confident in yourself and in your abilities. Just think like Yang: "I'm Awesome!!"

Btw, happy birthday Yang! :)

The point isn't over until it's over
You're allowed to celebrate and do a victory dance after you've done something awesome on the field. You're allowed to get angry at yourself for making mistakes. Just don't let it get to your head and don't dwell on it. If you drop a disc, yeah it sucks, but now you're on defense so don't mope around with your head down (while your girl is now sprinting deep). I find that a lot of new players do just that: feel bad for letting the team down. Well, ultimate is a team sport and stuff like that happens all the time. Instead of feeling down about it, use that anger and intensity to play great defense because the point isn't over! That also means when you get a D, it's not time to celebrate just yet, pick up your feet and make a cut (or pick up the disc to get it moving!)

Yelling is kind of like singing. Projecting your voice is all about using your stomach, not your throat. There's a lot of yelling going on in a frisbee game. On sMITe, the yelling isn't meant to put people down or make people feel bad, rather it's meant to instruct or encourage (or heckle =P). I think it took me a really long time to learn how to yell correctly: both the content of what I'm saying and the physical act of yelling. Make sure that what you're yelling is helpful, like up calls, helping the mark by calling "inside" or "around" depending on where the cuts are on the field, "turn" so people know that the disc is turned, or "last back" to let the last person in the stack know that they're the last in the stack, etc. During one point in sectionals, I was yelling at one of the cutters to space out better for ho-stack, and I didn't pay attention at all to what the handlers were doing. Turns out the other team set a zone and the cutter was in the correct position as a deep. Oops, sorry Carolyn =P I guess the lesson is to know what the offense or defense is before you start telling people what to do.

I'm really self-conscious about my yelling because I don't want to seem angry when I'm yelling. I think when people yell from their throats rather than their stomach, the yelling sounds a lot angrier (I don't know if that's actually true or if it's all in my head). And especially when the yelling comes from someone who's older (either in reality or in frisbee years), it can be kind of hurtful or discouraging, even if it's not meant to be! So I guess I'm reminding myself to be more helpful and encouraging when I'm yelling, and to project more and not sound angry, and if you're on the receiving end of my yelling, don't take it personally! =P I am open to criticism too. :)

Good luck to all the teams who are playing in regionals this weekend!!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Two years ago when we lost to Northeastern in the New England regional finals, I cried. Smeri yelled at me: "STOP CRYING! WE HAVE ANOTHER GAME! GET IT TOGETHER!" After the next game when we beat Dartmouth for the bid to nationals, Smeri and Doris cried.

Everyone is emotional in different ways, and how those emotions play out on and off the field are also very different. And especially in big games and tournaments, emotions have a big role in how we play.

Personally, I play my best when I'm happy, loose, and playing with people I love. It's really important to me to have great connections with people on and off the field. I'm really inspired by cheesy speeches about "look how far we've come this season" and "take a look at the faces in this huddle... these are the people you've played with for a year (or two, three, four)." I play my best when I'm having a great time and playing ultimate for the sake of playing ultimate, with people who I love and trust. Maybe part of it has to do with being a handler. My teammates count on me to have accurate throws and good decisions so when I'm angry or distracted, I have poor judgment and my throws get all wacky.

I know some people who get fired up when they're teammates heckle them or when their coaches yell at the team to step it up and say "c'mon, you're better than this!" or "WTF are you doing!?!" It's true, the team might not be playing at their potential, and some people on the team might need that kind of motivation to get going, but I'm not one of them. Maybe I'm just not mentally tough enough, but when I hear those words directed at me, I get really tense and nervous that I'll further disappoint someone. Even when I don't intend to, I feel like I play less aggressively than I normally do. Not to say that I didn't need Smeri to yell at me to get my head back in the game. I definitely needed that.

I get ticked off when guys on the sidelines play fantasy (I say guys because I only know of guys who do it). That means they pick players on the field and get positive or negative points depending on whether they get a D, score, huck, or drop a disc, turf a disc, misthrow, etc. Most of the time I can't tell that they're playing fantasy because I'm too involved in the game, so I don't really care what the sidelines are doing. But when I can tell, it's really really nerve-wracking for me. I know it "doesn't mean anything against anyone" and it's "just for fun" and it's "something guys just do" but I get really nervous that someone is tracking my mistakes. I really should just care less about what the sidelines are doing and focus on my own game. =P

Anyway, too much emotions for one day. More to come later.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sectionals (Sun) - the pictoral edition

Michelle reaching up to grab the disc over two Northeastern girls' heads.

Cindy with the disc

Chenxia sporting her sunscreen-not-completely-rubbed-in geisha look

Smeri being Smeri

Karen being Smeri

Ethan on the mark

Carolyn being tall and beautiful

Clare staring down the other team

Smeri petting the disc

Karen trying to return feeling into Cindy's fingers

Ice Capades?

I don't know :(

Seeing is overrated.

Shuangy busy making lines

Mangpo grab

Michelle's full-body catch

Ashley catch :D

Monday, April 26, 2010

Alum Scrimmage

Saturday night sMITe scrimmaged sMITten, the alum team of sMITe. I think this is the first year that sMITten has enough players in the Boston area that we can actually have a sMITe vs alums game. Awesome!

We have 8 current players (me, Smer, Daisy, Alex, Agnes, Amy, Michelle and Anna) vs 8 alums (Doris, Daphne, Liver, Chrissy, Heather, Lydia, Jin and Shuang). The alums started with a 4-man cup on sMITe and Amy threw a beautiful pass to Agnes through a hole in the cup. There were a lot of nice swings across the entire width of the field between Smeri, Amy, and Michelle. A few more throws through the cup and we were on our endzone line. But then we turned it and the alums ran it downfield and scored. But we *almost* scored the first point!! =P

It was fairly windy so the alums played zone on us. We worked well in zone O, kept the disc moving, poppers generally knew where to stand with a lot of continuations down the field. Our zone D didn't look so hot. There were a lot of holes in the cup and the cup was probably too angled when the disc wasn't close enough to the sideline. We also worked on clam a little bit, which was fun.

In general I think the number one thing sMITe needs to work on offensive flow. There were a lot of times in ho-stack when there was no movement among the cutters and the disc would just get dumped back and forth a bunch of times while the handlers were waiting for the cutters to make a move. I think last Tuesday's practice helped when we assigned people to go in/out depending on who had the disc, and then gradually loosened up the rules to make it a more free-flowing game. We should've tried some of that on Saturday.

Otherwise I think we did a good job of endzone, zone O, and resetting the disc. Thanks alums for coming out and playing us!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Sectionals (Sat) - the pictoral edition

Oops, it's been a while since Sectionals, but pictures are still awesome anyway. Thanks to Bryan and Daphne for taking over 700 pictures that weekend. Actually, one of the pictures Daphne took ended up in The Tech today!

Photo Credit: Daphne Wang
(If you squint and look reeeeally closely, you can kinda see her name on the bottom left hand corner of the picture =P)

Caption: Ethan F. Gillett G throws to Brian J. Munroe G in the Metro Boston sectionals. With the win, the men’s ultimate frisbee team secured a bid to the New England regional tournament in May.

Anyway, now for some sMITe pics:

Becky throwing through the cup

Cindy on the mark

Me hucking over the cup =P

Mangpo's backhand dump

Amy's low-release flick

Michelle's dump

Our awesome 4-man cup

Carolyn's backhand

Chenxia's mark


Cindy's D

Amy's grab

Karen's pull

Patricia clearing?


Michelle pulling!

Smeri's backhhand

Ethan catching


Carolyn's so tall!

Cuuute puppyy!! :)

Becky on the mark

Chelsey and Smeri :)

Sighhh play real ultimate!!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Picture was taken 2 days post-sectionals.

Me: "Bryan! Look!"
B: "I didn't do that."
Me: "I know, I think I cleated myself."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

At the airport

I just got back from Toronto, where the primary purpose of the trip was to renew Bryan's driver's license, but I also got a ton of wedding-ish things done, and played with Audrey (Bryan's niece) and hung out with his family and friends. I have a ton of pics of little adorable Audrey, but I'll save that for another post. This one is about the ridiculousness of the Canadian airport.

Part I. Ridiculousness of Canadian customs

When we were coming back to Boston, we had to go through customs at the airport. Bryan and I stood in a really long line to wait to talk to customs people, and we realized that there were several people going up to kiosks and then going right through and bypassing the customs line!

So I had Bryan stay in line to hold our place and I walked up to the kiosk and see that it's a retina scanner not unlike this:

And so it tells me to stand in front of the scanner and look into the mirror. And then a few seconds later it tells me to, "stand a little bit closer," then a few seconds later, "stand a little bit farther away." And then, "stand a little bit to your right." After 4 or 5 iterations of this, I was like, "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!?!" I was literally doing mini DDR moves in front of this kiosk, staring into a tiny mirror and everyone behind me was probably laughing at me (they probably weren't, but I felt really ridiculous).

Finally the kiosk says, "Wait a moment while your scan is processed." And then a few seconds later, "Sorry, your scan was not successful." UGH. I did this at three different kiosks and after the same results, I give up and join Bryan in the line. Then he goes to try, and it doesn't work on him either. =P

Part II. Ridiculousness of Canadian security

Bryan and I successfully go through the customs line the long way, and get to the security checkpoint where we take out our plastic quart-sized bags of liquids and take off our shoes. Then the security guy takes my bag of liquids and pulls out my face wash, the 141-g bottle of Biore face wash that I purchased in California 6 plane flights ago, and have always brought it in my carry-on and got through security with no problems.

The security guy said, "Sorry, you can't bring this, it's over 100 g."
Me: "What?! But I've brought it with me SO MANY TIMES"
Security Guy: "I'm sorry, but that's the rule here, nothing over 100 g and your bottle is 141 g."
Bryan: "Well, what if we squeeze out half the bottle, then can we bring it?"
Security Guy: "Sorry, it's the size of the bottle, not the amount in it."
"Sorry, I tried."
Me: "I know."

Part III. Ridiculous of Canadian airports

Bryan and I had printed our boarding passes out ahead of time like seasoned travelers, and the person who checked us in had written the gate on our boarding passes since at the time we printed our boarding pass, the gate hadn't been assigned yet. So we arrive at gate 164 (without my face wash) because that's what it said on Bryan's boarding pass. And it correctly displayed the travel information, so we put down our stuff and waited (we got to the gate with an hour to spare). I suggested we grab something at Tim Horton's since I love their iced cappuccino and I don't get it very often.

So we find the closest Timmy's, buy my iced cap, and head back towards gate 164. But this time, only 10 minutes later, it has travel information for Newark! Ummm... So Bryan and I walked up to the TV displays of departures and it says that our Boston-bound flight was leaving from gate 168! Weird...

As we head towards our new gate, I take out my boarding pass and lo and behold, it says gate 168! Then I took our Bryan's boarding pass and it says gate 164!! Who does that?!?!?!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Just another day in Boston

I was waiting for the 39 bus last week at the Symphony stop, and saw this blocking half the sidewalk:

Anyway, I'm going to Toronto for the next few days!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Throwing in the wind

On Saturday the conditions were really windy with big gusts of wind (eep!). For the most part, the wind was crossfield, blowing towards the sideline with the trees, which made it even more difficult to get the disc off that sideline. I was talking to Anna about coming up with some jingle or poem to help people remember how to throw in the wind. So here it is, the random saying I came up with in 10 seconds:

Throwing upwind: I/O and keep it low
Throwing downwind: O/I and keep it high

It even rhymes!!! Ok so what does that really mean...

0. Know which direction the wind is blowing
I know this sounds trivial, but to know how to throw in wind, you need to know which direction the wind is blowing. I don't know how much grass I've killed in the years I've played ultimate, but it's probably a fields' worth (grass grows back, right?! =P) I grab a few blades of grass and let it go at chest-height (where I want the disc to end up when I throw it to someone) and see where the grass goes... and that's the direction the wind is blowing.

A windsock!

1. Throwing upwind: I/O and keep it low

When throwing upwind, you're throwing into the wind, i.e. there is resistance on the disc preventing it from reaching its intended destination (both in the sense of time and space). In any instance of throwing upwind, the wind will catch the underside of the disc and push the disc upwards. This is what people mean when they say that the disc is "caught by the wind." This usually results in the disc shooting up in the air, and possibly flying behind you (my personal worst nightmare).

The solution is to throw the disc with an inside-out (I/O) tilt, and keep it low. The I/O angle gives the disc less effective surface area for wind to catch under it. In other words, the angle of the disc doesn't allow wind to push up from underneath the disc. Also, you want to keep the disc low to the ground because there is less wind closer to the ground. There will still be some wind to pop the disc up, so if you start at a lower position, the disc has more room to travel upwards, hopefully ending up at a level that's easy for your thrower to catch.

When throwing upwind, you want to put a lot of spin (extra spin!) and throw it a little harder than you would normally throw in windless conditions, depending on how windy it is. The extra spin prevents the disc from getting knocked around in the wind (it's more stable with more spin, give it an extra hard wrist flick) and the extra umph (from your torso and shoulders, NOT your arm) helps the disc overcome the wind resistance.

2. Throwing downwind: O/I and keep it high
When throwing downwind, the opposite is happening (duh Karen). The wind is giving the disc the extra push towards your intended destination (again both in the sense of time and space). So not only is the disc going to get to your receiver faster, it will get there with more force (the force of the wind plus the force of your throw). When many of us throw downwind (think of the go-to drill we did on Saturday morning), the wind pushes the disc down and by the time it reaches the receiver, the disc is lasering towards her shins/ankles/feet and she either dives for it or does a little hop over the disc so it doesn't take her feet off!

The solution is to throw the disc with an outside-in (O/I) tilt, and to keep it a little higher than normal. The O/I angle allows the disc to be "carried" by the wind to its destination. (Conversely, if the disc has an I/O angle, the wind will push the disc down quickly from behind, usually resulting in a turfed disc, that is, the disc hitting the ground sooner than you'd expect it to.) I also like to throw a little higher when I'm throwing downwind, like releasing the disc at waist- to shoulder-level. Again, this gives a little bit more room for error as the disc is getting pushed down by the wind.

When throwing downwind, you don't have to throw as hard, as the wind is "helping" the disc towards its destination. Sometimes people will tell you to "take a little bit off", i.e. don't throw as hard! Even if it looks like a great throw, hard downwind throws are really difficult to catch for in-cut receivers because they're flying towards the receiver so fast. As with the upwind throws, downwind throws also need a lot of spin. Spin keeps the disc stable and prevents it from getting pushed around by the wind.

3. What about in a cross-wind?
Well, crosswinds are just linear combinations of upwinds and downwinds, if you will :) Suppose there is a crosswind from left to right. Common sense tells us that all our throws, no matter I/O or O/I or what, are going to have a tendency to tip towards the right side of the field. As a righty thrower, that means all your backhands are effectively going downwind and all your flicks are effectively going upwind. For backhands, throw with O/I and don't throw as hard. For flicks, throw with I/O and use more force.

In summary:
  • Throwing upwind: I/O and keep it low, throw a little harder, lots of spin!
  • Throwing downwind: O/I and keep it high(ish), throw a little softer, still lots of spin!
  • Crosswinds are linear combinations of upwind and downwind
My suggestion: throw in the wind as much as you can! Grab a buddy and stand on Kresge or Briggs (which is basically a wind tunnel) and just start throwing! You'll start off by killing lots of grass as you figure out which direction the wind is blowing, but soon it'll be second nature to you as you figure out how to adjust your throw in the wind.

One easy throwing drill is to just stand 20 yards from your buddy and throw 5 forehands and 5 backhands. Then both of you take one or two steps to your right (imagine you're walking to form a large circle with a diameter of 20 yards), and throw another 5 forehands and 5 backhands. Keep taking steps around your imaginary circle and throwing both forehands and backhands, adjusting to the wind as it changes direction around you.

Happy Throwing! :)

Eugene says, "Upwind and downwind are parallel and cannot make crosswind. You need an orthogonal component !!!!!!!!!" ... Fine, that's what I get for being nerdy on my ultimate blog. Someone out-nerds me.