Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Secret to Winning Nationals

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.

Crazy, eh?

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.


Jesse said...

Good point you make there, that it all starts with recruitment. Optimally you want to have a big pool of players all eager to be on the team, so they work their ass off the entire season. You are then faced with the 'problem' of having to pick the best ~20 players for your final team.

I heard that many national teams do this with their womens and mens teams and then the others (who have trained as hard as the rest but didn't make the selection) are placed in a mixed team. This way everyone gets to play at high level and thus increase their game-experience.

Anonymous said...

Entertaining post, as always. But you forget one thing - getting your buddies together to train is FUN. Recruiting newbies is less fun.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, nice theory, but it'd be nice to see some actual data too. Still, its nice to read someone insulting the effort of the people leading the "Sydney women" or Chilly in generating success for their teams "it had nothing to do with you, just with there being lots of players around".

Anonymous said...

At least your still posting stuff though - seems Tiger, Simmo, Owen, Rubes and teh Canberra boyz have all given up on blogging ....