Ultimate Disc Throwing!

So I played my first game of Ultimate Frisbee yesterday. And boy, my muscles are tired. I feel like I’ve been hit by a car.

I had fun, though. The rules are relatively straightforward; one team plays defense and throws the disc to the team playing offense, then tries to prevent the offense team from getting the disc to their end of the field. If you catch the disc, you can’t walk or run from that spot; you have to throw it to one of your team-mates. If the disc is dropped, goes out of bounds, or is intercepted, it’s given to someone on the other team and they can now try to score a goal. And that’s about it.

The rules make a big deal about encouraging and assuming a spirit of fair play, which is a nice change. The rules strive to be clear but not complicated, as it’s assumed that players will resolve problems themselves.

We had a total of nine players, so one person switched out. Four per side felt comfortable; enough that each person got the disc at least occasionally. I had a good time, though I clearly lack the strategic and tactical thinking, and my body just wasn’t ready for the workout. We played for a good hour.

I’m looking forward to playing again next week, but boy am I sore now. I’ve been walking like a zombie since yesterday afternoon.


Brennen Though I am these days but a slowly wasting ghost of my former ultimate playing self, I still heartily approve of the sport. Stick with it — like most things that derive their complexity from the interactions of a few basic rules, it rewards extended study. And, you know, running yourself into the ground.
Stephen We usually play with a running catch clause. You can take three steps with the frisbee. This means you can catch it on a fast run and are able to slow to a stop, or you can catch it at a stop and take some strategic paces. Also any defending player must stay arms length away from the frisbee holder.

I’ve only played with very large groups, 8 on 8 or 10 on 10 and it’s a blast.

Big tip? Learn the tomahawk throw, it is useful to no end. The reverse throw is handy, but you can manage without.

Brennen It really depends on the level of play you’re at. I’ve played some “barefoot mass of hippies” style ultimate, and it’s a lot of fun (the beer-in-hand variant is good too), but I think reasonably competitive 7-on-7 is really where it’s at.

If you’re going to play the game seriously, becoming equally fluid with forehand and backhand throws is an absolute requirement. Other stuff — the tomahawk/hammer, scoobers, thumbers, etc. — is mostly going to lose you the disc until you really know how and when to throw it.

My advice would be A) get some decent cleats if you don’t have a pair — $40–50 off of a clearance rack will probably do it, and B) throw around a lot.

Stephen Maybe I have a weird knack, but I picked up the tomahawk (yeah hammer, I was trying to remember its other name) throw in a few minutes and I found it to be just the key for making a pass straight through a defender. A curving arc would work, but it’s much easier to read and intercept. The hammer is practically unblockable up close.

Cleats, yeah. Oh yeah.

Definitely throw around. A full weight frisbee (175 grams?) is ideal, but anything is better than nothing.

Aghh, now I really want to get my frisbee on. Thank god the students are back in town.

Mandy So how do you score? Is there a goal (like soccer) or an end zone (like football)? If it’s an end zone, does the disc just have to land there, or does someone actually have to catch it?
Brennen End zone, and you have to make a catch. For optimal effect, you’ll do it by either spectacularly out-jumping your defender and snatching the disc, or by making an impossible looking superman-style layout, extra kudos for landing in any standing water. Of course, if you’re really good or really fast these things might not be *necessary*.

Ultimate is much closer to the soccer end of the continuum than the (US) football end, in general. It’s close to being a continuous-motion game, except for stopping while you’re holding the disc.

Brennen I definitely concur that the hammer’s got uses, but the difficulty in reading & intercepting it also translates into a difficult catch.

The 175 gram Discraft is a must, IMO.

Brent Excellent tips, everyone, thanks! Any suggestions on how to practice with discs? Seems to me like a lot of throwing, to one end of the field, walking over there, throwing again, walking, etc.
Brennen Well, if you’re truly hardcore you can throw to yourself while sprinting down the beach barefoot in a strong wind…

My actual advice would be find some people to throw with.

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