Here’s a few tips on what to do when an opponent makes a call on you. There’s a bunch of calls that could be made including fouls, travel, disc-width, fast count, pick and numerous others. Ultimate is a sport full of passionate people and the Spirit of the Game calls upon those players to self-referee whilst they are on the field.
The important thing to remember is that when a call is made there’s only two possible outcomes (generally), and pretty much everyone involved in the game wants to get on with playing as soon as possible.
Take a breath…
Often calls are made in intense situations that involve a lot of things happening in a very short amount of time. If someone calls a foul on me I like to take a breath before responding. I have a brief think to gain some clarity on the events that lead up to the call.
For example, if someone calls a foul on me whilst we’re both going up for the disc, taking a moment after we land can help me visualise the actions that led up to the call and also provides a few seconds where I can take stock of any sensations that indicate parts on my body came in contact with my opponent.
The same applies for other calls. Did you change direction when you landed? Perhaps you did cut a little close through a group of people causing a pick. Whatever the call, a couple of seconds spent confirming your interpretation of events is well worth the time.
It isn’t personal…
When caught up in a game it is easy to misinterpret a call as a personal affront. Players who frequently match up can develop some healthy competition throughout a game and it is easy for the game to become about the two of you from a mental perspective. Taking a call personally is not beneficial to your team, or to your opponents, regardless of the intent of the person making the call.
The advice of “taking a breath” can help here too, allowing you to step away from the personal element of the situation and make a true assessment of what happened. Sometimes I have to go to the length of trying to imagine what I would have thought if I had witnessed the same incident occur between other players, or if the situation was reversed and I was the player making the call on my opponent.
Decide and move on…
Removing the personal element from the call, along with giving yourself a moment to assess the call objectively, should put you in a position to quickly make your decision on whether to contest the call or not. An immediate “contest” call is probably an indication that the response to the call is being made emotionally, rather than rationally. It is important for the opposition to know that you’re taking their call seriously and responding accordingly.
Once you’ve communicated your decision my advice is to limit further discussion. If you contest the opposition may want some further discussion. That’s fine but if the discussion can’t be settled, and you’re sure of your position, the best option can sometimes be to reiterate your decision and offer to explain your position off the field at a later point. As mentioned above, it doesn’t take very long before your own teammates and the opposing teammates just want to get on with playing the game. Just make sure that you do follow-up later on, if you said you would.
So there’s some tips from me that will hopefully help with call resolution and a better time on the field for all concerned. That said, spirit can be a contentious topic and I’d be interested to hear other people’s opinions on the best way to approach calls on the field. I think much of the advice above also applies when making a call but I will think about it a bit more and maybe write a separate post on that at some point.