Friday, June 11, 2010

Ultimate - Jack of all trades

I've dabbled at many hobby/sports in my life - baseball, biking, guitar, gymnastics, juggling, polevault, rollerblading, skateboarding, unicycling, wrestling. As somebody with the initials GKC once said, "anything worth doing is worth doing badly". (If you get into the context of that quote you'll hate this butchered use of it but moving on.)

All this to say the one game that hooked me and pulls me like a dog finding out it's leash got shortened. Ultimate frisbee. It is the game I play with no end in sight. It's the game I've worked hardest at and gotten the most back from. Whamo has the trademark frisbee (& makes a lousy disc still) so the game is shortened in name as Ultimate to the point of snobbery by seasoned players. Outside of the ultimate community "frisbee" is generally understood and I use it because I lack the energy to go through the mental & verbal hurdles to introduce the game while saying "flying disc" the whole time. I understand where the snobbery comes from (frisbees(TM) truly are lousy for playing ultimate) but it gets in the way of spreading the game.

Simply put:
2 teams, catch the frisbee in the endzone to score a point, move the frisbee by throwing & catching (no moving with the frisbee in your hands); defensive team trying to stop you without tackling you or swatting the disc out of your hands. If it's not a completed pass the other team is now the offense driving towards the other endzone; don't stop, just go.

Ultimate is the best sport for a few reasons:
1. Jack of all trades
Most team sports have very defined positions or at the least very defined roles. QB, RB, corner, center; keeper, winger, center, mid, point, defense, sweeper; goalie, defense, centerman, winger; baseball ('nuff said). While there may exist some positional overlap or needed to cover both offense & defense, basically "know your role & shut your mouth" -The Rock.

Ultimate has more of styles than positions. If a player was only a handler (QB-ish) they'd get a moderate defender on them & be of no use to the team. If a shut down defender (cornerback) can't throw or catch a disc he's nearly worthless to the team. Once the D is gotten; you're now the offense and you better be moving. The simplest and most successful offense in Ultimate is to "take what they give you". If a team puts on a zone forcing underneath throws, throw underneath and don't try the long bomb. If a team is playing underneath on the offense by 5yards and won't respect the deep cut, put up the bomb to the squirrely veteran with speed (that's me). As a player you need to on the spot read & react and play into the opening. The defensive squad may have the shut down guy to put on the primary handler, or even the superb mark & deep-deep for a zone set. But the best defense ends up with the disc and is now an offensive unit. If you're offense is going to stink, my squad will punt & play D, and score from 5 yards out because you can't complete 2 passes.

I now see my thoughts are deep & wide on ultimate & this will be blog series. So stay tuned for:
Real Highlight Reel
Spirit of the Game
Teaming with talent

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