Indoor ultimate is different than outdoor ultimate for a few reasons: there is no wind, the field is smaller, there are less players on the field, the disc won’t float as much and there are usually walls/ceilings to contend with. This usually means that the games will involve more precise throws, a different strategy since there will be less players and depending on if you play continuous scoring or not, retaining possession matters more.

Most indoor ultimate is 5 on 5 and for this case, assume a 4/1 guy:girl gender ratio with a field that’s close to regular width but usually 10-15 yards shorter so with that in mind, let’s look at a typical indoor game. Since you have 5 players on a field that’s pretty much the width of a regular field (just 5 yards shy) and only 15 yards shorter, I would make the following summations about this league, which can help guide strategy making. I find the best way to choose something for your team is to look at the strengths and weaknesses of the players on your team and also at what the conditions are surrounding your games – in this case the limitations of the game based on the number of players and the size of the field.

Constraints/Summations

  1. There will be a lot of room to move the disc back and forth across the field
  2. Most of the players will be able to full field huck, with the field being 10-15 yards shorter.
  3. It’s pretty much a men’s game since there is only one girl on the field

Approaches based on the above:

  1. Since the field is very wide compared to the number of players, there should be a lot of space for in cuts – this means a fast team will be able to work the disc up the field more easily since they have room and can use that to their advantage. Against a fast team, I would try to shut down their in cuts and force them deep. Since the field is shorter, more guys will want to huck but that also means a higher chance for bad hucks to be thrown. Make sure you have good defenders deep as the number of hucks will increase.
  2. Your staple defense will be man defense since the game will be so quick that a zone can be beaten against a team with strong handlers. However, do try to throw different looks at the other team. If you run man and are constantly being beaten, do something different or else the game won’t last very long.
  3. I would recommend at least trying a zone D. I would put the girl on the mark, have a dude on the other handler, have 1 guy deep and 2 guys in the middle of the field. You could even play a switchy back field where you have 1 mark, 2 players taking away the other handlers, and 2 guys deep. That requires a lot of communication to make it work since there will be a lot of chances for little throws over the mark (hammers, scoobers, etc).
  4. Since there is only 1 girl on the field, I would poach off the girl, especially if she is a handler, and make her throw it. You could also bait her and so when the throw does go up to her, you could close in and try to get that D.
  5. On offense, sometimes indoor is played with a lower stall count (5 or 7). This makes moving the disc quickly even more important than in outdoor. Many times you will be resetting the disc half a second before a stall down so if you can get the disc moving on stall 2 or 3, there will be less rushed throws, more open throws and breaks and ultimately, more scoring.

These are of course all suggestions and in many cases, the exact opposite will work. For example in #4, if the girl is really strong and it constantly beating your girls, then you will have to take that into account. On the flip side, if one of the guys is really weak, you can poach off him and make him turn the disc over if he’s not a strong thrower. The key underlying point in all of this is to be aware of your player’s skills and the skills of the other team. Try to run a defense and an offense that will shut down their skills and promote your skills. Adjust as needed.

Written by Ultimate Rob

Rob McLeod is a disc sports competitor, a 11 time World Record holder (including 5 Guinness World Records), 5-time World Champion, 2 time Quadruped title holder and currently holds the Canadian Distance Record. He founded ultimaterob.com in 2009.