Ultimate, otherwise known as ultimate frisbee, is one of the most fun and entertaining sports you’ll ever play or watch. Similar to football, ultimate is played on a field with two end zones, there’s a kickoff, or a “pull,” after each score, and there are quarterbacks and receivers, or “handlers” and “cutters.” There are many other intricacies to the sports, as well.
One of the most important rules of the game is not moving when you have the disc. When you have the frisbee in your possession, you can pivot with one foot (like picking up your dribble in basketball) and move your arms to throw the disc. Despite this rule, you are allowed a couple steps after a catch because you have to take momentum into account.
The game, at lower, non-professional levels, is self-refereed, so “Spirit of the Game” is a huge, majorly important rule. Spirit of the Game is being honest about making the right call; there’s no real discussion over a call because a player can call a foul or say that the other player is out of bounds and if they contest the call, the play continues, if they don’t contest it, either the disc goes back to where it was thrown from or it’s a turnover, depending on the type of call. SOTG teaches young players respect and honesty and it helps the game run smoothly.
Some famous players are Brandon “Muffin” Malecek, longtime leaders of the national champion Brüte Squad, Aly Heath and sisters (who are also my cousins) Shana and Sarah “Scook” Cook, world champion and husband of Shana Cook, Fortunate Mueller, and world famous trick shot and YouTube star, Brodie Smith. Muffin is renowned for his high number of hand blocks (blocking a throw with your hand while closely guarding the person currently handling the disc), Heath, Scook, and Cook have repeatedly taken home the United States title, Mueller has won multiple world championships with Team USA, and Smith has become a millionaire by posting videos of himself tossing discs into basketball hoops from crazy places like the tops of water towers. Obviously, the sport has gained a fair deal of recognition.
The largest audience is high school and college athletes. With such a large audience at that level, the majority of players in the two main leagues, like Major League Ultimate (MLU) and the American Ultimate Disc League (the AUDL), are extremely young.
Unfortunately, as of December 2016, the MLU shut down, so the players of their eight teams were left scrambling for a spot on an AUDL team. Of course, partnered with USA Ultimate, the program that helps fund teams of all levels, the AUDL gained a much larger audience. Fans of the Boston Whitecaps turned to the Boston Ironsides, Philadelphia Spinners fans turned to the Philadelphia Phoenix, the fanbase of the Vancouver Nighthawks started heading to Vancouver Riptide games, etc.
Smith has played in the AUDL for his entire career: starting with the Jacksonville Cannons, he gained popularity from the world’s youth who saw his trickshots on YouTube. He really hit his stride in Chicago with the Windy City Wildfire and he now plays in Texas for the Dallas Roughnecks. He is one of the people who draws the largest number of spectators because everyone wants to see the internet sensation who just can’t miss.
We all love watching Smith in his unbelievable clips, but, in addition to the skill of accuracy, there is a complicated strategy aspect. You’re probably wondering what the title of this article means; I mean, what does “Dump, Swing, Score” mean?
Dump, Swing, Score is a drill that helps players with plays usually performed near the end zone where the handler with the frisbee will throw to another handler who cuts across the width of the field who will then throw to a cutter cutting to the nearest front corner of the end zone. It works well against a zone defense because the handler cutting across the field will draw defenders away from the end zone to leave the cutter open. DSS works well versus a man coverage, as well because the dump, the handler running across the field, is always a tough task for the defender to cover, the swing is easy because the dump will now be open, and the score will happen when the cutter is able to blow past the defender which shouldn’t be hard, for the same reason the dump can get open: they stand still in the stack (the dump doesn’t stand in a stack, usually only cutters do), and then suddenly runs with a burst of energy which will easily beat their defender.
A popular defensive strategy is something called the “Cup.” How this works is three players take turns marking, the term for guarding a handler when they have the disc, and make a formation where one player marks, one guards to the side that mark is forcing, and the last player fills in the gap. These three players form a cup and their objective is to make the offense make so many throws that they eventually make a mistake.
The offensive side to this works in a similar fashion: there are three handlers, a left handler, center handler, and a right handler, and they try to advance the disc down the field by breaking the cup and getting the frisbee to a cutter. The left and right handlers will try to use their ten seconds with the disc to find an open cutter downfield, but if they can’t they’ll throw to the center handler who will try to immediately throw the disc to the first open handler they see, causing the cup to run as fast as possible to the new handler. The primary objective is to tire the cup out, so they are easier to break.
Why do handlers only have ten seconds with the disc? Good question; when in possession of the disc, the mark will loudly count to ten seconds, or stalls, for it is called a stall count, during which time the handler must get rid of the disc, lest they turn it over. In the case that a defender counts too fast, the handler can call a fast count where the defender must go back two stalls and then continue at a slower speed.
Ultimate is more than just a game of skill, for it requires great athleticism, strength, physical endurance, and intelligence. The greats of the young sport are some of the most impressive athletes you’ll ever see and despite the financial troubles that brought an end to one league, ultimate is gaining the recognition it so dearly deserves. Recognized by the Olympic Committee as a sport, all ultimate aficionados are hopeful that the sport will be a part of the 2020 or 2024 Olympic Games.