And the winner for best teacher goes to…

A few weekends ago Clearcut, the women’s ultimate frisbee team, had our first tournament.  I had mixed feelings going into it: at most of the previous practices I had been devoting most of my energy to catching our newer players up to speed, and had been neglecting my own improvement.  My monologue went something like this:

So here’s this pie plate, okay?  Well, it’s a plastic disc that has evolved from a pie plate.  And you can throw it by spinning it with your wrist, not your arm, holding it level like you’re spinning it off a table.  When you’re not holding it, just keep running up and down the field like mad, stopping only briefly as you plant your foot to turn around and cut in exactly the same direction as you came from.  Also, there are picks to think about, and tapping the disc on end zone line, and soft cap and hard cap and universe point and… and… have I shown you how to force forehand yet?

Most first year ultimate players join the sport with minimal background knowledge, not really aware of what the rules are, or how to throw properly, or what the basic strategy of the game is.  I’ve been trying to impart some of my great wisdom to these players, and I’ve realized that there is a heck of a lot for them to learn. It was difficult to imagine how it will all come together under the pressure of facing an opposing team for the first time.  Well, our first tournament (Beaver Brawl in Corvallis) was a testament to the power of learning from doing, and over the course of three games and a scrimmage I saw our rookie players improve by leaps and bounds.  Running around looking confused evolved into…Catching the disc!  Getting D’s!  Making assists!  Scoring points!  By the end of the tournament they were all presences on the field and threats to the other team.  We managed to field two teams, and our combined score at the end was 3 wins, 3 losses.

Despite my efforts to be a teacher, I’m no match for the learning curve of competitive play.