A Moment With Frank Huguenard
For the first UltiTraining interview, I asked some questions of none other than Dischooper Frank Huguenard. Now, Frank isn’t necessarily looked at as a fitness guru and I am aware of that. My motivation was to find out if his principles for training are similar to his other views on Ultimate and the general state of things. I found out that they are.
What I am posting is exactly what Frank wrote. Along with this, there were some things I don’t personally endorse or condone and instead of altering it, I am posting it as Frank wanted the world to see it. You may now begin to read.
Frank, you are a man that needs very little introduction to the Ultimate Community. For the sake of this interview, can you go through some of your claims to fame for the readers?
My own personal claims. I’ve invented four throws. The backhand lift (1982), the chicken wing scoober (2006), the forearm lift (2007) and the sidearm lift (1991) (not to be confused with a high release flick which I don’t take credit for). I’ve played more ultimate than anyone, ever. I’ve got more footblocks than anybody, ever (I’d hate to postulate how many out of fear of sounding like Wilt Chamberlain). I’ve got more handblocks than anyone, ever (ditto). There’s not a close second on either of those two claims, which is why I can say it with conviction.
I’m the best point guard in the game. I say this because not only is there not a close second, there’s not a second period. Nobody else plays point guard. If they did, I”d be a pretty mediocre or average point guard but since there isn’t, I’m as good as it gets.
That’s about it. No trips to natties. Never played on any team known outside the bay area.
You are also known for your firm opinions and viewpoints on Ultimate in general. What types of training elements do you feel are important for players to reach their highest potential?
Skills elements. Far too much emphasis is placed on endurance, stamina, speed in today’s game. Skills more than compensate for the rest. A good set of skills keeps you on the field much longer without having to be a marathon runner or a tri-athlete. You reach your potential when you’re on the field as much as possible (on a slight tangent, I think the whole notion of a D squad and an O squad is inane).
One element that is far underemphasized is mental training. In judo or karate classes, the sensai spends the first ¾ of the time getting you tired so that way when it’s time to focus on the mental part, you’re already exhausted.
Looking at your Z-Boyz website, there are a lot of different skills I am not necessarily familiar with, but how much of a factor is overall speed and acceleration in executing a power move?
Speed is relatively meaningless. Quickness is what’s key. There’s a big difference. I’ll take a quick guy over a fast guy anytime. But beyond that, there’s much more than just speed or quickness to making the perfect move. It’s like asking which is more important, speed or quickness to catch the perfect wave. There’s balance, timing, misdirection, a collaborative system in place to take advantage of those skills. If I went out and played with Revolver or Jam, my skills would be worthless so there’s more to it than just speed and acceleration.
If a player came to you and asked you for a training regimen, how would you split up their week and what would have them do?
I would have them run Juke-Tilll-You-Puke once a week, play Dischoops once a week and get a workout in running hills. JTYP is a flat out ball breaker that also develops many, many skills simultaneously. Dischoops is a wind game. There’s no let up so it’s a very aerobic work out, more so than anything I’ve done. And running hills is a page out of my hero Walter ‘Sweetness’ Payton’s book. Find the baddest ass hill in town and sprint up it as many times as you can (sprint up, walk down, do it again). This helps with quickness and explosiveness.
Do you think that training for Ultimate and training for Dischoops are fundamentally different?
Yes. Ultimate is anaerobic and Dischoops is aerobic. Dischoops is similar in biophysiology requirements to hockey. The game is 15 minute quarters and there’s no dynamic subbing. I used to think that Ultimate was one of the most physically demanding sports there is but dischoops crushes it in that department.
That said, we don’t even know how to play dischoops yet. I’ve played over 10,000 hours of Ultimate [including practicing, drills, working on throwing, etc.] which is where my expertise comes from. Dischoops is still embryonic. Teams have yet to start running sophisticated offenses, set plays, etc. and so as the sport evolves, which I’m sure it will, the answer to this question will also shift.
How much transfer is there between the activities?
That depends entirely on how you play Ultimate. To me, there’s not much difference between the two games as my style is similar in either situation. However, most ultimate players revert back to their static style offenses when they play that sport and vice versa. If you play Dischoops like you play Ultimate, you’re going to look like a fish out of water and frustrate your teammates. That said, most competent players adjust within 90 minutes.
I do think that Dischoops is the Great Exposer. If you’re a mediocre disc player, you’ll be seriously exposed as such on the Dischoops Court (which is why they call it a court; justice is served).
Do you think an elite player from either game could see success in the other?
Any ‘elite’ dischoops player should be able to perform well in Ultimate, again, given that the framework for the offense and defense resembled the kind of game that’s played in dischoops. However, many ‘elite’ ultimate players are not suited for dischoops. Dischoops is a skills game. Pure and simple. If you’re not a highly skilled disc player, you’ll struggle in dischoops. For instance, there’s one ‘elite’ level player from one of the bay areas top two ultimate teams who just completely sucks at dischoops.
Let’s say that you are the captain of a team that is about to take on an elite level Ultimate team. It is obvious that they have trained and in very good shape for your game. Now the team that you are on hasn’t had as much training and is fighting an uphill battle.
What types of things do you do as captain to take away the advantage from the opposing team?
If you’re going to assign me captain of some arbitrary group of ultimate players, forget about it. I’m not interested. If I have a squad (like I’m hoping to put together this summer in the bay area), I teach match up zone defense and motion offense. Intelligence over Brawn. Advantage intelligence.
When I’m running a team, I like to assign efficiency ratings to each of my players. This number is arrived at by combining a set of various statistics that I gather that represents how well a player makes other around him better, how much he makes his team mates work more than necessary, how much his team scores when he’s on the field, non-verbal cues for on field communication, etc.
Once I have these ratings compiled, it’s fairly easy fielding a competitive team, no matter who the opponent is. And please, can we stop calling the so called pinacle of today’s game, the elite level? Nigga please.
Finally from a training perspective, what are the top 3 things an average player could start working on today, to get better?
Practice give and go moves. Practice give and go moves. Practice give and go moves.
One more question off topic, Godizilla vs. Motion Offense, who wins?
That’s pretty easy, motion offense of course. When you take a look back at the epic battles, suchs as Gozilla vs. Mothra or Godzilla vs. Ghidorah, Godzilla was able to overwhelm his opponents due to the fact that his foes had an unbalanced attack and were one-dimensional. In the very first Godzilla movie in 1954, Godzilla was killed at the end of the movie by Oxygen Destroyer, an extremely powerful weapon that was actually able to completely dissolve Godzilla and wipe out all life in the Tokyo Bay. It was also the only weapon that was truly effective against the monster. Motion offense is like Oxygen Destroyer. It’s the only weapon effective against those monsters who refer to themselves as ‘elite’.
Leave your questions and comments below and maybe Frank will stop by to answer them.