John Thomas Williams (MSU) sent us his thoughts on the subject after seeing himself and Ryan Cross get injured this semester.
Unless you are Georgia’s defense on 4th and long, it is always beneficial to catch your D’s. By catching the disc instead of just swatting it away, you limit any chance the offense has at retaining possession on a macked disc. Now, what if I told you there was an underlying benefit to catching your D’s that could help explain the increasing list of injuries that this section has seen this year?
Catching your D’s is not only strategically beneficial, but it is also much safer than swiping or batting the disc down. I started to see this after my first hand experience with a season ending injury (pun intended). I suffered from an Ulnar Collateral Ligament tear in my right thumb caused by a fellow teammate swiping at the disc while we were both in the air and making accidental contact with my hand. I understood what caused the injury- my fellow teammate did not catch his D and as a result I’m sitting on the sideline- but never truly understood why it happened. It finally dawned on me after watching the YUCC 2014 video of Ben Wiggins discussing Footwork Across Levels.
In the video, Wiggins explains the importance of knowing how big our bodies really are and how to avoid or utilize contact. He goes into a drill around 21:35 that has one person holding a disc in front of them and then makes the defender extend around and touch the disc without making contact with the person holding the disc. The drill that Wiggins explains is intended for youth players, and he stresses the importance of teaching the avoidance of contact at a young age. He goes on to explain how this drill teaches proper approach to defending, getting to the furthest point of extension, and proper technique of avoiding injury. You can see this in one of my favorite ultimate plays of all time with Dylan Freechild’s monster layout D.
Dylan Freechild: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82C7GVMW6qQ
Also another example- Nick Lance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZvC2G7rKGXs
Most players here in the southeast are not like Freechild. We are introduced to every sport except ultimate at a very young age. We begin to understand how our bodies interact during sports such as basketball, baseball, soccer, and football quite early. One of Wiggins’ key concepts is developing instincts to avoid contact in ultimate at a young age. As ultimate is not widely taught from schools here in the south, the athletes that have crossed over from the more “mainstream” sports are not exposed to bodily contact in ultimate at a young age. This could explain why this section has seen the increased number of injuries. As the game is getting more and more competitive, it is getting even more dangerous.
Can we prevent all injuries in the section? Of course not, but I am convinced we can limit the number of injuries. How do we solve this issue? Besides waiting 10 to 20 years for schools to start having ultimate teams for the youth, we can, as a section, teach our rookies that safety is an important issue. We must recognize that there is a right way and a wrong way to attack the disc and to utilize contact. We all know that guy who disregards the well being of any other player and plows through someone else even with no play on the disc. We don’t like him (or her). That guy caused Ryan Cross a trip to the ER with a dislocated elbow, and I’m sure that guy may have injured one of your players. Don’t let your teammates or your rookies become that guy.
Remember, catch your D’s.