As a player you might, at times, think about ways you can improve your contribution to your team. Alternatively you might be looking for a way to differentiate yourself from other players, developing a skill that sets you apart and increases your value to the team. A good option is to consider becoming awesome at the pull.
The pull is a fairly special skill within ultimate. For starters, it is something that you do by yourself. There’s no receiver on the end of your pull who can misread the disc, or fumble the catch. The success of the pull is entirely in the hands of the puller. The pull is also great fun as you can unleash your biggest throws! Not only that, but you can do it on the run with the aim of air time rather than the disc being catchable.
Above all, the pull is really important. Here’s my take on why:
A good pull allows a defensive team to indicate their intent from the very start of the point. If the pull allows the defence to establish their structure before the first throw (or during it) then the offence knows that the defensive team means business.
Even more valuable is the intent that can be felt by the defensive team. Excellent defence requires a certain attitude, a state of mind. A good pull is an excellent way to ensure that the intent that is discussed when calling the defensive line, is maintained from the outset as play begins.
The Field Space
In a recent post I wrote about the concept of field space being a commodity that is traded between the offensive and defensive teams. With this concept in mind, the pull could be considered as the first transaction whereby the defensive team can “buy” as much of the field space as possible. In simpler terms, a good pull will require the offense to expend more energy and make more passes in order to score as they will have more ground to cover.
This is particularly important in terms of pulls landing out of the field and being brought into play from the brick mark. Offensive teams who have this opportunity have been given a gift from the defensive team, a gift of 20 metres!
Another gift given to offensive teams when the pull lands out of bands is the gift of time. The slow walk to retrieve the disc, followed by the trundle to the brick mark, are used for the offensive team to adjust their plans based upon what they can now see of the defence.
I have often been in a situation where we decide to “surprise” our opponents by putting on a zone. However, the pull lands out and the offensive player walks to the brick mark with a fence already laid out in a row, waiting for the thrower. There is ample time to call some modified offensive positions to deal with the defence that has been setup.
The pull is a unique skill in ultimate as it is something done by a single player, without involving other teammates. Players can excel at the pull and distinguish themselves as fulfilling an important role on their team as a result. A good pull also gives the defensive team an edge over their opponents, setting the tone of the point from the outset.
There’s lots of great resources online to help people with their pulls. Rob has a whole section on this site dedicated to pulling, including a post with his opinions on why the pull is important. There’s also plenty of advice and videos on how to improve your pulling.