Friday, December 9, 2011

Baca's Mailbag, Dec 9

I can see the bottom of the mail bag from here, slackers. Just saying. Personally, I'm looking forward to my blogging vacation.

"My team is looking to make the jump from Race 2-2 to D3 Race 2-4. We have been successful in the past despite being somewhat isolated with little to no access to other better teams for practice and training. My concerns are twofold; How is xball lite different, if it is, and is there anything other than what we're doing we can do to continue to get better considering our situation?" (Official VFTD paraphrase offered for clarity and succinctness.)

First, the tone of the question(s) expressed some hesitation about making the move to D3 xball lite. The move, compulsory or otherwise, needs to be reframed as a positive challenge, a good thing for the team. (Because it is.) On the other hand it's also a good thing to be as prepared as possible.
The steepest learning curve immediately is the turnaround on points. Your players need to be physically prepared and as a team you need to be properly organized to deal with the changes the quick turnarounds cause. Depending on how many players are on the team you will need to take into account; line up changes, in match tactical adjustments, basic logistical necessities. Your basic logistical necessities are potted paint, aired up working markers, assigned roles, unmarked players--all the usual basics. When you walk off the field and know you don't play again for between 10 minutes and an hour or whatever all those things are easily dealt with. When you're playing again in two minutes you have to have a plan--and everybody needs to know how they fit in the plan. Even if you will staff assistance it is worth talking through the process as a group and practicing getting ready within the turnaround time limit.
Depending on the size of your roster you may also need to prepare for shifting line-ups, different groups of five going out to play each point. Anything less than two complete lines means some number of players will be playing back-to-backs and will require priority coming off the field for things like air, getting cleaned up (paint free), etc. Even if shifting line-ups isn't new make sure you know how it's going to work within the limited time frame of the xball (Race 2) turnaround. It's between points, 2 players are going back-to-back and the pit is full of people trying to get ready and get on the field. The last thing you need is to know in advance how your team will determine what your next point is going to be. Do your players decide? Does a coach call prearranged plays? However the team functions you will need to make sure your routine for that too fits within your turnaround time. It may seem rather daunting at first but if you walk through it, get everybody on the same page and practice getting everything done within the time limit you'll be well ahead of the game. Keep in mind your first practical event experience may still be kinda chaotic because the one thing you can't prepare for is the real deal--but your advance prep will make the transition much easier.
(Based on the elements of practice you mentioned) the team should add laning OTB and Running & Gunning drills to your current regimen. (There are half a dozen or more posts in the archives covering those topics in how-to formats. Search stuff like laning, OTB, practice, playing the game, running & gunning and so on.) Otherwise the drills and mismatches (snap-shooting, 1on1's, 2on1's, 3on2's, etc.) and so on continue to be a solid base. With little or no local challenges to help keep the team sharp your group attitude and focus becomes critical to future success--which is one reason the move up to a new national level challenge is positive motivation. The other thing you need to focus on when it comes to your regular (routine) practice is execution. Practice can't degenerate into simply going through the motions, it needs to be about perfecting, always getting better.
Finally I would suggest, if it's at all possible, to arrange a special weekend practice trip--not unlike going to an event--to test your progress and scrimmage with better players and teams. Or, alternatively planning well in advance to schedule competing at a regional event where better than home grown competition will exist. Regardless, treat your first event or two in the new format as learning experiences and set your goals accordingly.
Good luck. 

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