A Short AsideIn the grand scheme of things, I plan to write a reference for all my Ultimate knowledge/opinions. The problem with "now" vs "the grand scheme" is just a matter of it's hard to know where to start. So I'm not actually starting it. I just had some clear ideas that I felt I needed to write down so here they are. Also: these may apply to other sports as well, but Ultimate is simply what I'm most familiar with.
Most people overlook the value of giving adequate time to organize and run a drill properly. Sometimes it's because time is limited, or your team has a short attention span, or it's cold and you really can't focus. But rambling through a description, and just letting the team try their best is no more effective at teaching skills then telling your players to run laps.
For a drill to be effective, the players must know what to do, when to do it, and most importantly, why they're doing it.
What They're Doing
Experienced teams skip this step, largely because they're familiar with the more common drills, and can simply call them out by name. However, even experienced teams would benefit from going over drill details from time to time because there are so many things that happen at once, it's easy to forget the smaller details.
Each drill has 2 phases, which for brevity I'll call an "active" phase and a "reset" phase. The active phase is when players are actively executing part of the drill; they're running or throwing or jumping or whathaveyou. The reset phase is what the player falls into after they've finished the active phase; It's whatever extra action needs to occur before the player can enter the active phase again. This may involve just running back to the same spot, rotating to a different position, or bringing a disc back to a thrower. This is the phase most commonly overlooked when trying to just describe a drill quickly.
While describing the motion during the active phase effectively is really a matter of style and personal preference, I've found a few types of descriptions tend to work well. A miniature representation of the drill -- either with a whiteboard or moving upturned discs on the ground -- gives the players an overview of what the whole drill should look like. Additionally, having a few veteran players who have done the drill before act it out at full speed is a nice transition from the slow, miniature model to the real world. However, jumping straight from verbal description to having players act it out is somewhat less effective, as players can't see everything that's happening at once.
When To Do It
Most drills rely on a kind of flow. A goes over there, catches a disc, turns, and expects to be able to throw to player B who is cutting towards A. If B is there early, A will have to make a different throw; too late and A is just stuck waiting. In this case, players A and B both have a clear understanding of what they should be doing, they just don't know when to do it in order to keep the flow of the drill constant.
This sort of detail is most commonly left out of the drill's description, and its value is usually overlooked. Giving players a good sense of *when* they should be where is just as crucial as where they should be going. That way, the motion of the drill is kept smooth, and players don't need to keep adjusting their throws to the timing of other cuts.
With enough well-timed cuts, the team should be able to develop spatial chemistry: knowing where someone is on the field without even having to look. This leads to more confident players, more reliable throws, and generally faster offensive play. All because nobody's stuck with the disc, waiting for their man to cut.
Why They're Doing It
The next big issue that coaches overlook when describing how to run a drill is to explain why this is a good drill to run. The reason needs to mean something to the players performing the drill, so not giving a reason means they're simply doing it because that's what the coach said. Such a reason gives the players little more value from the drill than if they had simply run in circles for that period of time.
Most drills have in-game analogues. They may represent ideal in-game situations that never actually happen, but just making that connection for the player will give them a better chance of doing the well-practiced option learned from the drill in game. This drill teaches you how to hit a timed in-cut on the open side. This teaches you how to break the mark. Even skills-focused drills should be justified; this drill will make you faster, help you throw while you're tired, improve your low-release throws, defend against someone taller than you, etc.
Giving the player a context in which they can see a drill in real game will not only improve the drill's effectiveness, it'll also make the player focus on the skill he's supposed to be learning from the drill at hand. Otherwise, a lot of the player's effort will be lost by simply running in circles.
Perfection's in the Details
The beauty of all this is that each drill has a wealth of details that tend to be overlooked. Taking the time to focus on the details like proper motion, timing, and motivation gives the players a very rigid, very high bar that they should try to meet. Additionally, this gives even seasoned players the ability to run these drills time and time again, always trying to improve to hit these key details every single time. Without the wealth of detail, a team could run the drill poorly or even adequately and not have it occur to them what (or even if) they're doing something wrong.