How to Be a Fantastic Mediocre Player

Ultimate is a team sport.

There is no reason to be anything beyond outstandingly mediocre. There are 6 other mediocre  players on the line who can put in the hard work. Why should it be you?

..but why take a chance?

Here are a whole bunch of ways to be outstandingly mediocre:

  1. Don’t be flat-out awful. The way that, well, a lot of players are.
  2. Don’t read the rules. One of the first steps to becoming a mediocre player is to think that you know the rules. Reading them will just kill your creativity. You’ll struggle to come up with your own on universe point. Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you!
  3. Throw rarely. Your in-game throws will force your team mates to learn to layout. They may not show it but they will secretly be grateful.
  4. Spend time thinking about the sport. If you don’t invest your time day dreaming  about inventing the next fancy throw, who will?
  5. Only focus on what you are good at. Stay within your comfort zone. Its good to be in control at all times.
  6. So you can throw a 40 yard lefty no look scoober but struggle with a 15 yard flick? Brilliant! Keep working on that scoober. Not many players ever get to that level during their careers.
  7. Look forward to ‘practice sessions’ once a month or so. They are fun. Some pranks on team mates, giggles, feed off their energy, heckle them and guzzle beer afterwards.
  8. Don’t waste your energy trying to communicate on-field. Good team mates are supposed to have a good understanding. I don’t know about you but I sure as hell have lots of fun faking out my handler – I fake an in-cut, bust deep, beat my man by a few yards, and just as the handler winds up the huck, I turn hard and come back in to watch the huck beautifully sail over and hang.
  9. Be the first one to yell. This is your biggest take away from this blog post. In Ultimate, the unwritten rule is that the first one to yell is always right. For eg: refer #8 above. Yell at your handler to be patient.
  10. Don’t be coachable. You want to be self taught and self made. Not a puppet!
  11. Energy / Intensity / consistency – Words to be recalled at the beer drinking session after practice.
  12. Don’t play defense. If you are playing on the O line and your team turns it over, feign injury. Beasts like you and me shouldn’t be playing D. We might kill someone.
  13. Learn to use the word Spirit whenever you run out of excuses . If you don’t understand, refer #14 below
  14. When you get to being the mark, catch your breath. You never know when the guy you are marking is going to take off again. I’ve had opponents thank me for not stall counting when marking them (only I know I was struggling to breathe). I might be mediocre but I am a Spirited player.
  15. Heard of the Sports Center fallacy? “Stuff that appears on highlight reels is not necessarily the stuff that makes for winning”. Jim Parinella said that. He wrote a book about Ultimate in 2004. So what? He isn’t as familiar with mediocrity as me. Listen to me. The Sports Center fallacy doesn’t exist.
  16. Focus on making it to the highlight reel. The rest will take care of itself. No one cares if you made 90 safe passes in a match but they want to see you bid when you are within 12m of the disc. These aficionados also want to be sure they are the ones that see you complete that 50 yard hammer especially if your completion rate is <8%. Help them win bragging rights.
  17. Your Facebook profile picture must be of you playing Ultimate. Else, you don’t stand a chance. Bonus points for having random Ultimate players (whom you have never met) on your friends list. Double bonus if your Facebook surname is Frisbee.
  18. Catch with one hand instead of two. 33% greater probability of making it to highlight reel.
  19. Have a big huck? Team mate running deep? He has no separation, matched step for step by defender + out of position? Send it first, ask questions later. Just try not to watch hopefully until its caught.
  20. Don’t bring a water bottle. Just be Spirited enough to steal from multiple bottles so a bro may not find his bottle empty.
  21. Spot a new player at his first session of Ultimate? Talk to him about laying out and teach him the skill. He may forget who taught him to throw a backhand but he won’t forget you. After all, you will be the reason he is going to dislocate his shoulder.
  22. Teach pick up players every weekend regardless of whether they want it or are genuinely struggling. If you don’t step in and show them that you are Mr.KnowItAll then someone else is going to.
  23. Wear grey.
  24. Learn the push pass. There is no cooler way to dump.
  25. Your team mates are bound to be envious. Sometimes, all you can do is shirk hard work, be lazy, live the life of an outstanding example in mediocrity and just pray that players take after you.

If you stumble upon new ways, just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to add it to this list. Let’s spread the love.

Oops..”Broken!”

Your fellow Ultimate player and wallower in mediocrity.

Notes:

If you are confused by this post, you should read this.

#15 – Jim Parinella is one of the most famous names in the sport. He is a four-time World and eight-time US National champion in three divisions. He served for six years on the UPA’s Board of Directors, including two as President. He has co-authored the book ‘Ultimate Techniques and Tactics’. He also happens to be a very nice guy (I had the opportunity to meet him very briefly at WCBU 2011.) I am a big fan. Here’s a video of the final in which he played. I maintain my stance – I know more about mediocrity than him.

#16 – Nick Lance won the USAU Club Championships in 2009 with Chain Lightning and finished 4th at the WUCC in 2010. Just about any elite team would want him on their D-line. If you ask me, I think cold beer flows in his veins. That throw probably won him the 2012 Open Callahan Award!

#19 – Brodie Smith arguably made this sport more popular in a year than it was in the preceding decade. His first trick shot video alone has 3455064 views! And then he went on to better that. This two time college national champion and 2012 club champion (With Doublewide) recently helped out with clinics in India as well.

About Abhinav Vinayakh Shankar

Indian player on a personal mission to keep Ultimate fun and Spirited, his proudest moment in the sport, justifiably, came at The World Championships of Beach Ultimate 2011 (WCBU ’11) in Italy, where he represented India in the open division and they won the Spirit Award.

Abhinav serves as the Secretary at Chennai Ultimate Frisbee Club, the largest club in the country. Every October, he helps conceptualize and run BULA certified tournament Chennai Heat (A 7v7 co-ed Beach tournament on full size flood-lit fields that draws crowds of over 5000 people!)

He trains with fitness coach Arvind Ashok (co-founder of The Quad).

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