Feeling a bit controversial today. Must be Tuesday!
A lot of people think that the way to defeat everyone else in Australia is pretty simple:
1. get your best players together;
2. train a lot.
That's a reasonable way to do it.
But every year there's many teams in each division who do this, but only one wins. Maybe this isn't the best approach - in fact its only got something like a 10-20% success rate.
Here's a different suggestion.
Want to win lots of National titles in the next decade?
Spend the time you'd spend training recruiting hundreds people into your local Ultimate area.
Lets look at what the data would say if it had been gathered for us to analyse (so, yes, we're going out on an unsubstantiable limb here):
- UQ are one of the biggest Ultimate clubs in the country, and have been for years. Oh, and yes, they have Gold Medals for AUGs for 2007 and 2009 (they didn't go to 2008 ... to busy with all their members).
- Largest concentation of women Ultimate players in Australia? Sydney, has had about 40-50% of women Ultimate players in the country for a decade at least. Number of national champions? Sydney women won every year of the last decade, except whent the NZ National team doesn't turn up and pinch the prize (beating a Sydney team in the final).
- But what about Open? Hasn't Chilly of Melbourne won lots of National titles the last bunch of years? Ever wonder why that is? Well, leaving aside Chilly's 4 recent wins, remember that every other title since 1993 bar the one NZ pinched has been a Sydney team (again, having 30-40% of the nations Ultimate players over this period). But if you got the data from the VFDA, I suspect you'd see one interesting correlation with Chilly's wins - the massive growth in Melbourne Ultimate over the last 5-7 years. It wasn't that long ago that Melbourne Ultimate was only a few teams.
The conventional response might be: the Sydney Women and Melbourne men win because they're the major team for a large area of players (of course, this ignores the fact that other strong teams do exist in these areas, but whatever).
But the important thing is that they're in a large area, with many many grassroots players having access to the team.
You can keep working on your elite group, but perhaps a better strategy is to grow your base so that the elite group gets broader, deeper and stronger.
Then you'll be winning championships.