Saturday, January 23, 2010

Session 012310

Had to work. What did I miss?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Session 011710

I'm lovin' indoor winter sessions! Finished 3-3 with a totally awkward 7 player rotation. Almost the same turnout as last Sunday minus Greg who went out to the Phoenix event. I also like these early morning starts. We've been starting at 9-10 and playing until noon or later.

Got some breakfast before getting to The Shop, helped set up then started warming up. Ronnie and I started with some drills focusing on passing with light contacts and maximum control. Then we did some weak outside kick drills before Tommy came over to rally with us. The A-court started a game with rally scoring to 21 points. I think that will be the format from now on and most of us are getting used to it (that is, we're not bitching about it as much). Ronnie and I eventually played Tommy to 11 points. We were easily beat 5-11. Ronnie needs a lot of work but I do not see him taking the initiative to solve much of that on his own. His serves are probably his most reliable skill at this point with everything else really lagging behind. I did notice the he was more comfortable taking swings when set 3-4 feet off the net.

In the first doubles game, I rotated to A-court and partnered with Cory facing off against Tommy/Ted. too many errors. I served out at least twice in the beginning then a third time at game point giving them the win at 18-21. One play that stuck out was a shot that Tommy hit from back court that froze both Cory and I. We both assumed the other was going to get it and the bag hit the ground uncontested. Lost a joust with Tommy as he dinked a shot right over my blocking foot. As I landed, I got a perfect view of the bag dropping not 1 foot away from me. I managed a few minor highlights by hitting a couple Kennys (from what I understand the motion of the kick is similar to a toe spike except the right foot is turned downward and the contact is made with the outside surface. Hitting with the left is a Gumby) chasing after some low sets. Those are fun. Tommy hit this incredible pulldown that just shocked us into stunned silence. The set came up near the post and I rushed forward in case of an overset but Tommy just came up and made contact with the bottom of his toes and the bag just dropped straight down. I was 3 feet away and I still had no chance of diggin' it. Great shot!

Back to B for some drills.

My next game on A-court was with Tommy vs Ted/Brian who had just beaten Cory/Scot(!). Tommy just came out blazing, getting us to 15-2 lead. We were working very strong together setting, spiking and digging everything. The other team did manage to fight and scratch to get within 2 points of us. Bryan got some payback from last weekend when he tattooed me in the right nipple with his nasty pulldowns (dats kinkee). Ted got a monster block on Tommy but net fouled to give us a point and swing the momentum back to our side. Finally, I managed to end the game with a shaky side axe. That was a good win for Tommy and I. It showed how well we could work as a team. I particularly appreciated the both of us staying focused and not falling completely apart (which has happened too many times in the past) as Ted/Bryan worked away at our lead. We finished relieved and confident at 21-18.

We continued to play well against Scot/Cory. They both may not have been in top form but we knew it would still take some work to get a win. I think we each served out only once during this game. The score was close throughout. Our defense was solid and kept them from scoring long runs on us. Hit one big side axe. In the end Scot had served out to give us the 21-15 win. All his frustration was vented as he let out this loud roar that just filled the shop.

Next, I teamed up with Ted to face Ronnie/Cory. We took the win 20-8 in an uneventful game.

In my final match, I teamed with Bryan against Ted/Tommy. My serve returns, sets and bumps were all over the place and just couldn't give Bryan much to work with. We were quickly beat 8-21. I lost another joust with Tommy, hope Cory's camera caught it all. I crossed over trying to pick off the set first but hit Tommy's foot instead. He still managed to kick the bag over the net for the kill. He was just on fire the whole day. At this point, he was 6-0 and wanted to call it quits for the day. They managed to get him in one more game and got beat by Scot/Cory.

My overall defense could have been better. While I did play well with Tommy, I missed or shanked quite a few shots with both legs throughout the rest of the day. Service returns weren't as terrible as the last few sessions. I did make contact with most serves but I did shank a few too many. I tried to challenge almost everything though with very few instances of shot gazing. I did a pretty good job or playing dinks and oversets but I honestly cant say that about defending the back court.

I was pretty aggressive offensively. I attacked most everything that was set to me (and a few I had to run down) with a high percentage landing in bounds. I think I made good decisions for setting and spiking and don't remember regretting any swings I took. The actual execution of sets were decent until the last game. Serves could have been better, I just hit too many out serves. That's just going to kill you in rally scoring. I'm definitely pleased with my offense this session.

After playing, Ronnie and I chilled at the Golden Nugget diner near my house. It's always nice to hang out after a session to eat and wind down. It was relatively warm enough to just walk home from there and enjoy a few minutes in the sun. Another enjoyable Sunday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Session 011010

Another fun indoor session on Sunday. In attendance were Scot, Cory, Greg, Ted, Bryan, Tommy, Ronnie and myself. With everyone's help we had the ground swept, lines taped down and nets set up in no time. Warm-ups were rushed as well since we were all eager to start playing. We played to 21 points using rally scoring. Winning teams played on the "A" court and losing teams played on "B". We switched partners before every game.

I finished 3-6 winning with Scot, Greg and Ted ( I think, I should write it down after games). Played with Ted and Ronnie twice but never got to team with Cory. I played ok, about as well as the previous weekend. Same problems; serve returns, oversets and left foot lameness. Served out a few times too. Bryan knows to serve high and behind me and Cory will often serve to my left side.

Had a good day offensively. I turned 2 of Ronnies oversets into a pair of wicked toe jams. Got a jumping sunback that came in from a sharp angle and dropped steeply into the front court for a surprising kill. Tommy gave me a low and shallow set from the back court that I managed to side axe (love those). Side axed another set that tattooed Bryan. One big ass shtataff. Hit a standing bitchslap that had a hint of pulldown. Fucking sweet.

Defense was ok. Not great, not terrible either. Very few instances of shot/serve gazing. I really need to drill left outsides because it's starting to piss me off. I did try to be a bit more vocal and call stuff out but its very easy to get lost in all the chaos.

I'll add more later, probably as comments. Busy at work.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Errors add up

I've been thinking about ways to minimizing as many *simple* errors as possible. Every point scored against us should be earned and not just given away. In close fought games those simple errors may add up to aggravating losses. Let's face it, we're not going to be blowing away every team we face in semi-finals and beyond so we need to play smart and treat every round like it's game point. There are a few things we do that give teams easy points that can be solved with better communication.

On serve returns, we need to communicate/remind that the non serving player needs to watch that far front corner and the server defends the backcourt for the first few kicks then float back to the regular lateral formation (or whatever the situation dictates). Sure, it can be argued that it's rare to be dinked in that spot right after the serve but I think that's pretty weak (and lazy) especially since the solution to the problem is to just simply take a few steps past center court to cover that area.

Also, when we happen to be in the "I" formation defensively, I think the rear player should call out who defends the incoming shots. When I defend front and center I am not always aware of where my partner is behind me. When the shot goes deeper than expected but still just within my reach I will still swing at it. What happens often is that my partner may have been in a better position to get a controlled dig/bump (vs a wild, half blind weak outside kick from me) starts to swing at the bag the same time I do, then we see each other - and we both stop and the shot scores an easy kill! I think that a simple call from the rear defender to coordinate the defense can minimize this problem. I say rear defender because he has view of the entire court and knows where everyone is. The only shots the front player should call are blocks, dinks and easy bumps within his range.

With that said, if a defender takes the initiative to rush the net to make a play, he should call it just as a head's up to his partner. The partner, if he hadn't read the play already, should then rotate over to the middle (or wherever he may think the shot is going) to defend the open area. If there is no rotation, it easily leaves half the court wide open.

One final way I can think to minimize simple errors is to defend shots headed for lines aggressively. There are way too many uncontested shots/serves that hit the line because we assume it's headed out. I say we play the lines like they were a foot wide and we defend EVERYTHING unless the shot is ridiculously out of bounds. Singles finals at the last WCC was an excellent example of this as Cory and Jerbear defended deep shots that may have been just out of bounds. They didn't take any chances and turned what could have been easy uncontested kills into long rallies. How many times have you let a shot fly past you only to land in bounds and you get pissed at yourself for not doing anything? This should NEVER happen. EVER. Challenge the shot! Do not give away points! Sure you may still shank it but at least you've given yourself a chance at making a play. If you just watch you don't give yourself much of a chance and leave it all to luck. Fuck that.

Discussion is welcomed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Session 010410

First session of the year. None of us played particularly well but it was still fun to kick. My serve returns started to completely fail near the end. I did manage to get my foot on a lot of shots but my left side digs were embarrassing the whole session. Lots of oversets and a couple stupid selfish plays. Hit one bitch slap and a pretty good side axe. Oddly enough I hit several standing sweeps and a few sneeky scuffs that dinked as defenders faded into the backcourt to dig. Only served out once. Didn't watch any serves land in. One instance of set gazing that I can remember.

2-1 w/ Tommy over Scot/ Cory. Ugly wins. They served out quite often to keep us in the game.

1-2 w/ Scot vs Cory/Tommy. They jumped to strong early leads that we could not overcome.

1-0 w/ Cory against Scot/Tommy. Solid defense and me contributing offensively kept us on top most of the game.

I'm excited to be playing (hopefully regularly) throughout the cold months. That will help keep off the 10+ plus pounds I tend to gain and I'll be relatively sharp when the warm weather comes back (in JULY goddammit).

Zeke Bitches About Net, Winter 2009

So, Fall of 09 didn't start off so good for me. Lost my Canon S5 digital camera then my PC got fried. I was pretty depressed about it all but fortunately we were still playing net to some degree and I could vent my frustrations on the bag. As you can imagine, my ability to document, brag or bitch about my sessions have been seriously hindered. Work has been shitty (but to be honest I'm happy to have a job) and my hours have been cut but I use the computers there to post when I have the time. I have also moved out of Lincoln square and moved into Albany park. My new roommates (and their pets) are pretty cool.

As for footbag, we were still able to play outdoors well into December with the added bonus of the playing at The Shop for the rest of the winter. I'm quite satisfied with where my skills are at and what I'm able to do on the courts. My main goal is to see how far I can push myself and have as much fun as I can for as long as my body can handle it. I'm extremely thankful to have lost weight, and avoided serious injuries and have an indoor space to keep playing. I would go absolutely fucking nuts if I have to suffer though another long god damed winter with no camera, pc and footbag too.

Monday, January 4, 2010

It's 2010, Let the Domination Begin

"I’ve got it set in my mind,
I’ll be a mountain disguised this year.
I will bow for nobody else"
from "Resolution" by Umphrey's McGee

Wow. It’s been a long time since anyone posted anything on this blog spot. But it’s a new year, and with it comes new resolve. I think that we’ve made some good strides in the last couple of years, but I’m hoping that this is the year that we really step out of the shadows of mediocrity and become the force that I know we can be.

We officially started the 2010 training season yesterday at my shop in the city. Zeke, Tommy, Cory and I spent a little over three hours kicking, stretching, doing drills, and playing games. It seems as if the shop is going to be the “place to be” for weekend sessions until Mother Nature allows us to take it outside once again. Hopefully we’ll be able to get more than just the four of us for future sessions.

I’m going to let Zeke post a story after each session, mainly because I like his take on the way things went. Zeke- please post each story as a new entry, and I’ll follow up in Comments with stats on games won and lost. Cory will be analyzing video and adding stats on unforced errors, spikes, digs, etc. whenever possible. Let’s use this blog spot as a way to track our improvement as the year goes on.