Ultimate Thoughts Simplified

The recent post I put up about ultimate frisbee was, I'd guess, a bit arcane. Thinking back on it after a couple of days, I have a couple of clarifications.

Tempo: Still one of the most important parts of any game, and particularly important to ultimate frisbee. When I wrote that first post, I had it in my head that the offense started out dictating tempo, but after some thought, I've decided that the defense really has the opportunity to dictate tempo. After all, zone for five or a junk defense can oftentimes take the offense out of their initial play call, leaving the offense responding to defensive pressure. Of course, the pull is crucial in this situation - a poor pull can leave the defense out of position when the offense receives the disc, giving initiative to the offense.

Space: Previously, I'd been trying to combine some thinking about chess with play on the ultimate field. I still think the reference to chess files is germane to play on the ultimate field, but veers a bit far towards chess jargon to be useful. To simplify things, I was trying to suggest that the vertical stack and horizontal stack lead to two very different uses of space. The vertical stack, when played well, gives two long aisles of play along the flanks of the field. It also tends to isolate defenders a bit more (especially when the defense is forcing to one side). Movement through the middle third of the field tends to be fairly restricted because of the presence of the stack. The horizontal stack, on the other hand, opens up cutting space across the field. While deep shots are certainly there for the offense, defensive players are often better positioned to help on hucks.

Implications for the mark: The defense's priority, it seems, should be to take the offense out of its first option, either through a junk defense, poaching, or otherwise. Its next task, then, should be keeping the offense from moving to open space, either by trapping agressively, cutting off continuation throws, or forcing the disc back into the crowd of the stack.

General thoughts: It's been interesting to read the occasional discussions that surface about ultimate's merits as a sport relative to football or basketball or soccer. Beyond that, it's worth thinking about strategies and styles from other sports making their way into ultimate. In what ways does our description of the game affect the way in which we play it? Is there a difference between scoring a goal and a point? (In my mind, not much, though the former term suggests soccer and the latter football) And in talking about pivots, travels, and the motion offense, how is it that ultimate learns from other sports? And finally, given the issues raised here, how is it that teams teach the game? How is it that you describe ultimate frisbee strategy to someone who's never played the game?


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