The Ultimate Sport
What IS Ultimate?
Ultimate is a fast-paced, non-contact sport that is played on a field similar to a football field. A team on offense aims to move the disc up field by passing it to team members until it is caught in the opposing team’s end zone, resulting in a point. Players cannot run with the disc; a player must stop when he takes possession of the disc, establish a pivot foot and attempt to pass the disc to a teammate. An incomplete pass or an interception results in a turnover, and the game immediately changes direction. Every player is a thrower, a catcher and a defender. Each completed goal counts as one point, and teams play to a pre-established final score, usually between 11 and 21 points.
Ultimate is full of exciting action: players diving horizontally (“going ho”) to catch or block a disc; players jumping high in the air to catch a disc before the other team; short, quick passes; scoring points in the corner of the end zone after a 70-yard pass (a “huck”) and players doing everything they can to intercept each pass.
Ultimate can be compared to several other sports: it uses a football field, the pivot foot is like that in basketball, the action is continuous like in soccer or hockey... but more importantly, several aspects of the game make it unique.
Spirit of the Game
One major focus of ultimate is on spirit of the game. It is such an important part of the philosophy of Ultimate that it even appears in the preface to the rules: "Spirit of the Game - Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate adverse conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting of opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional fouling, or other "win-at-all-costs" behavior are contrary to the spirit of the game and must be avoided by all players." (UPA 11th Edition Rules).
Given that we assume that each player will not intentionally violate any of the rules, there is no need to have a referee on the field. If a player believes he/she is the victim of a foul or that he/she has committed one, he/she only has to say “FOUL” loudly. This rule also applies in the case of violations like traveling and interference (such as picks). If the player thought to have caused the foul or violation does not agree with the call, he/she simply says “I CONTEST”. There are specific ways to deal with restarting play, depending on the type of foul. Clearly, when the match is tightly contested and the adrenaline is pumping, foul calls are not always straightforward and are sometimes called less than politely, but this policy has proven quite effective for the game).
It is played with a disc ("frisbee")
The trajectory and behaviour of a ball is easily predictable, but even a beginner to the game of Ultimate can get a disc to fly in such a way as to make any professional baseball player jealous. A disc can float, lift, curve; you can hit a disc in the air and cause it to rise; it can be thrown downwards but bounce upwards; it can suddenly lift 3 feet higher than its intended target or drop suddenly to the ground; during strong winds, a disc can stop completely and start going back where it came from but we cannot even begin to describe all of the ways a disc can respond to windy conditions. It becomes very important to be able to “read” the path of a disc. There are times that I find this element of the game more exciting than watching a disc floating just out of reach of a 6-foot tall defender to land in the hands of a receiver who managed to just jump that extra bit higher than his defender.
In the beginning...