A number of people have asked me to expand on what kinds of things we do in practice to work on 'conceptual Ultimate' as described in the previous post. Here are a few thoughts.
At the start of the season (late August, after the embarrassment at worlds), a few of us sit down to discuss strategy. What did we do last year? What did we do this summer? What do we think works? And most importantly, what do other teams expect us to do?
From here, we generate a simple plan. This year that plan had to change as we kept losing: to NY at Scarsdale, to Seattle and NY at the Tune-up, to New York at regionals. The final 'Skinny' (as we called it) was published to the team by E-mail just before regionals. Repetition, repetition, repetition, 'til the tournament.
We play O against the D, time and time again. We play each other so much that by the end of the year there's a healthy competitive thing going on (O thinks it should always win, but hardly ever does).
We also do a 10Pull drill (maybe the single best team drill in Ultimate). The D pulls ten times to the O; each team gets only ONE turnover per pull. If the O turns it over and the D picks it up and fails to score... re-pull. Remember, only ONE TURNOVER EACH. Talk about learning to value the disc.
If your team isn't divided purely down O and D lines, then each group gets to pull ten times. The drill isn't about keeping score, it's about learning and getting better. That's new to many teams. It's a vital point often lost during practice as each team desperately wants to win to make up for all the other things that went wrong that day.
This drill clarifies what you're trying to learn. Normally, when teams scrimmage for long periods of time, specifics are lost in favor red hot poker Ultimate (turnover plagued that is) or "Common, we have to shut them down, man!". When you play a good team, the game of Ultimate doesn't go beyond one turn per point, so you might as well train with that in mind.
Lastly, you have to be clear, up front, about what your team can learn in a season. You can't learn it all. You need a drill sergeant to get things done -- don't be afraid to yell. Be positive and sure, but tough.
It's my belief that what specific strategy you decide to do doesn't matter as much as if you all do the same thing. You know, get on the same page. Being in sync means you have a strategic advantage over the many teams that are just out there as 7 individuals.