Saturday, June 19, 2010

In the trenches: Pre-Chicago PSP

It's been a long week. I was on the road most of the week which made posting difficult--(that's an apology for those of you jones-ing for more posts)--and my flight home last night was delayed. I didn't get home 'til after midnight. This morning we had practice scheduled to begin at 9am with the Red Legion. (My drive is around an hour.) Lately, afternoon temperatures have been running in the high 90s.

The PSP released Pro game schedules yesterday (or maybe the day before.) (See how out of touch I've been?) With the collapse of the semi-pro bracket and subsequent inclusion of Entourage & Aftermath the Pro bracket is up to 12 teams for Chicago. And we get 4 prelim games (again!) after getting only 3 in Phoenix. Thanks, PSP. (Though I gotta admit I find it a bit perverse to be grateful to get back what was arbitrarily taken away--but even so.) However--there's always an however, isn't there?--as a result it turns out we play the Legion in the prelims so it made for an interesting day of practice what with each team getting our last pre-event reps in and at the same time not wanting to give away too much.

We've got a ten player roster but CJ tore up an ACL prior to Phoenix. (He might be ready by World Cup.) And Jason Edwards, who injured some ribs working out this past week, is unable to practice and his availability for Chicago is uncertain. He'll be there and he will want to play but given the doctor's report I'm pessimistic. And Carthy missed practice today for a wedding so we ran with seven. That meant guys had to play out of position some points with everybody playing back-to-backs or three in a row. But it was a good thing. When a match is tight and the points are going back and forth and there is little discernible difference between the competing teams--it doesn't come down to tactics, famous names, popularity or past successes--it comes down to who wants it more, who can will themselves to compete despite the fatigue, pressure and expectations, who can execute.

The Legion coaches usually aren't too concerned about "giving away the game plan." They are interested in their players executing the game plan and you can see the fine-tuning as they make adjustments as the points unfold. The other thing they do is chart their opponents looking for patterns they can use in game-planning. Mostly they want to determine the lanes they will shoot for a given opponent and otherwise they are confident if they can get a good "read" that will help them OTB and prepare their players pre-match for tendencies to consider as the points play out they can (and will) out execute everyone. And history has demonstrated it's hard to argue with the way they do things.

I confess I'm not adverse to trying to make things a bit more difficult to discern. In this situation I have a variety of things I'm trying to accomplish and limiting what the Legion can feel confident about when it comes to what to expect from us is one of them. I'm also interested at this stage in our mental preparation more than I am in our execution but it's always valuable to prepare against the best. (With the shake-up in Florida paintball we've been scrimmaging TK--a very solid team--but it was easy to see in the first few points against the Legion this morning that we needed to dial up our intensity and it could have been a rude awakening to show up in Chicago only to realize we weren't where we needed to be.)

If any of y'all find this kinda stuff interesting drop a comment or ask a question and I'll post on tomorrow's practice as well.


Mike said...

For me I really like the post-practice reports or insight to the workings of pro team practices, travel, rosters/injuries etc.


sdawg said...

One secret of the Rus I would like to hear explained: what the heck does "troika" mean?!

Kine said...

What Mike said. Any insights on how pro-teams operate are always interesting. Unless you're a pro yourself, which I'm not. So this is interesting.

Roy said...


J-Bird said...

like i said: real practice reports are cool, and could be good PR. please give more!

papa chad said...


Anonymous said...

Very interesting.
Back here in Finland we still run our (all amateur) teams by coaches who play in the top team themselves. While concentrating to get your team to perform and practice as good as possible it is easy to lose one's own focus.
And when worrying about your team mates performance, yours is lacking and possibly hurting the team more than helping.

As from an pro coach it would be nice to know how your team runs its spirit up. Do you have "fire starters/alfa-dogs" inside the team (named roles or natural talent?) or are you the one responsible to get the team waking up in tournaments?

We warm up physically before the first game which helps to fire up. But what is your opinion about timing the warm up? I mean 30 min before first game or what?
And when you have to wait for your games during the day, what do you make them do to wake up again?

As I have commented before "coach school" is the next big thing in clinics. Since I see a big move coming up when us who have played 15-20 years finally step aside for the actual firezone and start really coaching and need all the help money can buy :)

team Urho

Baca Loco said...

Every team is different; the chemistry, the character, the personalities. Pro or am, makes no difference. From a coaching standpoint the priority is to prepare the team to compete successfully but that too can mean a lot of different things and have unique demands. Obviously the basic game doesn't change but there's lots of variations on that theme.

Yes, it can be extremely difficult for a player to assume a coaching/captain role where they have a responsibility for the whole team. Back in the Dark Ages I remember the situation well--and hated it.

Re: spirit. Again, teams are different. I've always had some high energy, high intensity guys in the past but that's not really the character of my current team. They're a laid back group and it used to frustrate me because it was hard to "read" their preparedness. Now that I know them better I don't worry about it.
In a separate but related issue I am definitely responsible for our performance. If they aren't ready to play, it's my fault.
Pre-match a relatively light warm-up to get the blood circulating and stretch. Usually inside 30 minutes, closer to 15 is better but we seem to have small stuff to fuss over every match. Another thing I had to get used to. ;)

Baca Loco said...

Continuing where I left off--playing multiple matches--we simply follow the same routine, doing things the same time, the same way before each match. I don't want them thinking about it too much so we try to keep everybody occupied and just before the match do a review of the things we've already talked about in terms of playing each specific opponent, reiterate our goals. Compete as a team, have fun and make it happen.

Mark790.06 said...

Couldn't even stay to watch a point after your break it so freaking hot. Good luck in Chicago where it looks like it will be 10 degrees cooler.

Baca Loco said...

Thanks, Mark.

There's this thing called Google. I hear it's pretty amazing. While you're at it check out matrushka.

sdawg said...

The Russian's coaches are yelling at them to do a folk dance during the match?

Baca Loco said...

I can't recall hearing them use the term but if you picked it up in a video it's one of their codes and there are lots of silly codes in paintball.