Thursday, May 5, 2011

Dive! Dive! Dive!

I find this video to be wonderfully strange:

Why?  Because laying out for the frisbee, on offense or defense, has been a part of my game for as long as I have played.  You see, I have no ups but plenty of downs.  That is, I cannot jump very high, but have long been willing and eager to throw myself horizontally at a flying disk.  Not something that everyone is willing to do.  I never trained to do it.  It just happened---I was reaching for a disk and focusing so much that I extended myself as far as I could go.  As a result, I find it funny that step three here is focus on the disk.  That is step one.

The video also raises a long-debated issue--front first or side first?  I have almost always dived with my body turning over, so that I hit on a shoulder blade (nearly always the right one, and then slide across a diagonal from top right shoulder blade across my back to my left hip. My favorite grass strains come from such a pattern of impact.  People argue that you are most likely to blow out a shoulder that way, but the folks I know who have broken a collarbone or popped out their shoulder were those who dive more like Superman--chest first.  I also think that if it is about extending reach, then it leads one to reach more with one hand than the other, naturally causing the body to go on its side. 

Injuries from diving? Well, besides getting kicked in the face once or twice, the most frequent injury would be scrapes--on my forearms so that they now have scars where I repeatedly land, on my hips (though UnderArmor prevents those mostly), knees, and such.  I did get a hand stepped on last year, which did more damage to my wedding ring (now it is more oblong) than to my finger.  Perhaps I should not jinx it by saying that I have never hurt my shoulders by laying out.

Yes, I take pride in it.  Nothing feels better than laying out to block a pass.  Not even laying out to catch a scoring pass.  Most of my laying out these days is catching errant dump passes, but I occasionally will layout on defense and stop a pass.  My favorite layout of my ultimate career came early--my third year at Oberlin, I believe, maybe fourth, at a big game in a tournament at Ohio State, playing the big school that we had either never or rarely beat.  Twas late in the game, Gabe Brownstein attempted a Hammer throw (which was just making its way into Ohio in the late 1980's) towards me while I was in the endzone.  I had to stop suddenly and dive backwards to catch it since it was behind me by a good bit.  I caught for the penultimate score of the game, if I remember correctly. The team was most impressed.

I am not sure I would teach someone how to dive.  I would just encourage folks to play on wet fields since impacting on a soft, sliding surface (a la the slip and slide in the video) is far easier than on a hard-packed surface.  Field turf is actually ok, if you have Underarmor type gear covering elbows and hips. 

My only regret--a narcissistic one: while there have been pictures and videos of games in which I have played, I have never seen tape of any of my dives.  Mostly, I just see myself throwing (which is about 95% of my game).

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