This past weekend my team, Grand Trunk, played at Canadian Nationals in Winnipeg. For the second year in a row we shit the bed in pool play. As a captain, there is nothing harder than seeing your guys go out there and make mistake after mistake. It's not that I was angry, but knowing that you aren't playing up to your potential is a hard pill to swallow.
There is always going to be an adjustment period in a tournament. There are certain parts of your and your team's game that will need to be tweaked, but it shouldn't be fundamentals. Of course, being on a young team will cause many a wrench to be thrown into your plans. The reality is that it makes your path to the finals considerably harder if you let any opportunities slip by.
Pool play and power pool play are kind of like the opening rounds and the cut at a PGA event. You need not be out in front to advance as long as you take care of business. The difference is that in golf you aren't jockeying for position in anticipation of who you will face. In ultimate, that is precisely what you are doing. Sure you can make power pools based on an OK record, but that OK record follows you and forces a tough quarterfinal matchup.
It is imperative to come out focused and sharp in pool play. Every team will require something different to get them in that space. It is on the leadership to properly prepare the team, but on the actual day I believe it is only the individual who can bring their A game to the fore.
Something I have learned from being priviliged enough to have played in Florida last year is that every single point against every single opponent is sacrosanct. The only way to avoid dwelling on what could have been is to know that not only were you prepared, but that you executed to the best of your abilities in the moment. Admittedly, it will take more than a few failures for this lesson to taken hold.
You cannot choose your opponents, but you always choose how you play. Perhaps this is just an elaboration of the maxim that perfect practice makes perfect. Regardless, what is important is that you take full control over that which you can.
And that means winning in pool play.
those are some of my thoughts.
PS - For those of you who care to know, GT went 3-0 in power pool play to advance to the quarters. We suffered an 11-9 loss to General Strike and finished 5th in Canada - one of the best finishes in team history. Great season Trunk.