ultimate intelligence

It’s Not About You

After a bit of a hiatus due to holidays and focusing on other sports (mountain biking yay!) I have spent the last couple of weeks on a bit of a return to ultimate. As I get back into various leagues and training regimes I have been doing some self-assessment (somewhat unknowingly) to gauge my starting point. As a quick rundown, my fitness appears to be pretty good, my skills are a bit rusty but the most striking shortfall I have observed has been in my mental fitness.

To understand what I mean about mental fitness it is worth having a quick read of one of my previous posts, The Good Mistakes.


In most ultimate games players will spend part of their time on the sideline. Time spent off the playing field allows a player to recuperate, hydrate and tend to any other personal matters as required. That said, it is important to recognise that you are still part of a team who is currently involved in a game and that you have an important role to play even though you’re on the sideline.

Put another way, players on the sideline have a role to play in the same way that on-field players will be called upon to fulfil a role during any given point. The role of a player on the sideline can vary and some of the responsibilities of that role are as follows:

Call On Me

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.

Pulling Power

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.

Good Mistakes

All ultimate players make mistakes on the field. There’s a huge range of things that you can do wrong, affecting the game, your team and yourself. Drops, throw-aways, not clearing, getting frustrated, forgetting to drink – these are all possible mistakes. There are many more and we’ll all experience these mistakes at some point.

A player looking to improve their skills and abilities should consider how good they are at dealing with mistakes. This is a skill that is as relevant to your performance on the field as many others. Your mental fitness needs to be just as tuned and functional as your physical fitness.

Cutting with Flow

Years ago a friend of mine linked me to a blog post where the author was speaking to an ultimate team about their strengths and weaknesses. One of the players highlighted “cutting with flow” as their primary strength. Unfortunately I can’t find the original post but since reading it I have often thought about cutting with flow and how I can improve this aspect of my game.

Let’s Talk About Space

Recently I have been consuming quite a bit of Ultimate. After an injury-induced hiatus I am now playing in two leagues and I have also been watching as many games as I can find online, particularly with some great content coming out of Worlds. I have really enjoyed being able to watch so many great games!

Whilst being exposed to all this ultimate I have observed an emerging point of interest that I’d like to talk about a bit in this post. Specifically, the importance of space on the field and how space can be considered a commodity. It is a fairly fresh thought process for me so hopefully it comes across as something useful for other players to consider.

Catch the D!

This post contains a lesson that will be familiar to many Ultimate players. It is a lesson that I learnt the hard way, on the field in an important game. Hopefully I can help newer players avoid the hard lesson by providing an easy one!

Put simply, if you are playing defense on a point and have a chance to bid on the disc your primary goal is to catch and control the disc. Although it is easier (and fun!) to smack the disc out its flight path this is a dangerous option as you are not actually exerting very much control on the disc. It can end up going anywhere on the field.

The Captain’s Conundrum

This past weekend saw me returning to Ultimate after a three month break due to an ankle injury that I suffered whilst playing in a tournament. I was making my return in two leagues, an indoor social league and our division 1 outdoor league.

Anyone who has recovered form an injury in any sport can appreciate the anticipation as you slowly rebuild back to a point where you’re game-ready. There’s a sense of excitement, a renewal of goals and a realisation that, although your game has been put on hold for a while, it is time to get back into it and continue moving forward as a player.

The Throwing Comfort Zone

In previous posts I have made reference to The Throwing Comfort Zone. This post will explore the concept of The Throwing Comfort Zone whilst also providing some advice on how your Throwing Comfort Zone can be increased and maintained. The concept of the Throwing Comfort Zone is a useful mechanism to identifying where you sit as a thrower and what you can work on in order to continue improving. In addition to reading this post I would suggest reading Rob’s post on The Elements of Becoming a Better Thrower.

Defining Comfortable

The Throwing Comfort Zone is made up of two elements:

Throwing for Connections

This is the last post in a mini-series on why connections count within Ultimate. The first post highlighted that all passes, including scoring passes, rely on an interaction between two players. Those players need to work together to ensure that the connection occurs. Last week’s post focused on receivers and detailed some tips that can assist when cutting for connections. In this post we’ll take a look at the thrower and the role they play in a successful connection.

Cutting for Connections

In my previous post I highlighted the importance of connections within ultimate. I’d recommend having a read of the full post. As a recap, the interactions between throwers and receivers is an example of where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. By recognising that there are two people involved in any pass, appropriate steps can be taken to ensure that the connection is successful.

In this post I want to focus on the receiver’s aspect of the connection. As a receiver, what actions can be taken to help with the success rate of the connections on the field?

The Connections Count

Aside from ultimate, think of another sport where the act of scoring a point or a goal requires an interaction between two players….

I can’t think of one. Any other team sport allows a player to score by themselves. It is an individual’s act. Whilst the rest of the team plays an important role in getting the scorer into a scoring position, the actual act of scoring a point is the responsibility of one player alone. For example, kicking a goal in soccer, smashing a puck through the posts in hockey or sinking a hoop in basketball.

Calm Under Pressure

Arguably one of the most pressure intensive parts of playing ultimate is when you have the disc in your hand. The outcome of the point is completely in your control and it is up to you to take an appropriate action to work towards a score. Other players on the field can influence the options available to you, but ultimately the next action lies with you.

Ultimate Intelligence – Head to the End Zone!

This is the first of a series of Ultimate Intelligence posts that I hope to write. These posts will hopefully provide some useful information that you can use to improve your game in a variety of ways. For the most part Ultimate Intelligence will be about on-field performance and may include tips regarding tactics, physical work or mental perspective.

This post will focus on an improvement that can be made from both an attitude and a tactical perspective. This isn’t necessarily an advanced tactic, any player could take these instructions on board and incorporate them into their game.