Ultimate Frisbee Tips and Strategy

Ultimate Frisbee HQ banner 5

Ultimate Frisbee Tips & Strategy

Here you can find a couple of Ultimate Frisbee tips, hints, and strategy to make point scoring and defending go a little more smoothly. These tips are just little tweaks I have learned over the years that have helped me, a lot. First and foremost let’s start with the 7 most important Ultimate tips that beginners should know.

7 Important Ultimate Frisbee Tips to Always remember 

Quotes for Ultimate Frisbee
1) Never, EVER give up on the disc.
 “A Frisbee disc is catchable until it visibly touches the ground.” A disc is much different than a ball. A ball has a pre-determined path and speed that it follows until it hits the ground. A disc varies in distance, speed, and height depending on the spin of the disc, angle, wind, and air pressure. What I am saying is that if a ball goes over your head, it will hit the ground behind you. If a disc flies over your head there is a good chance it may stay afloat for much longer than expected therefor still catchable. I can’t tell you how many times a teammate just missed a disc and instantly gave up on it, after a few seconds of anger the player looks back to see the disc JUST hitting the ground a few steps away. If they didn’t give up, the disc would have been caught. The moral of this tip is to go 110% after the disc until you see it hit the ground, always. In my eyes, this is one of the most crucial Ultimate Frisbee tips to remember.

2) Pump fake. – We can all agree it’s pretty annoying when you have the disc and someone is standing in your way trying to block/force. Pump faking is super easy to do and takes almost no energy. Yet, the impact from faking is huge. Faking that you are going to throw one direction then actually throwing it another can gain you up to 18 inches of extra throwing space, depending on how much the defender commits. Using your pivot foot it is ideal to fake a backhand then throw a flick, or fake a high-release then throw a low-release, or a forehand than a hammer. There are tons of combinations you can do but the affect is the same., it reduces the chance of a hand block.

2.5) Use pump faking wisely. – It’s rare that I will counteract a tip with another tip but I need to ensure pump faking is not over-used. While faking is great, there are times that it is not necessary. Some players create a bad habit of faking every time they throw whether they need the extra room or not. Don’t be that player that fakes a huck backhand every time you catch the disc. Faking should only be used when throwing up field and/or a mark is marking you hard.

3) Take your time. – When you have the disc, you have 10 seconds to make a decision (assuming someone is stalling you). I advise you to use this 10 seconds wisely, but also understand that some situations call for releasing the disc very quickly.

10 second stall countI tell everyone to just pretend that the stall count goes until stall nine, and to throw it by stall eight. This leaves some leeway incase your in a sticky situation. Nine seconds is still a long time. Unless a teammate is WIDE open I recommend holding the disc at least until stall 3. I say this because it takes at least 3 seconds to fully scope out the field, pick a type of throw, make a valid decision, and execute. Remember, the rabbit it quicker, but the turtle wins the race in the end. This Ultimate Frisbee tip is for relatively new players. If you have played for years then ignore this tip. In fact, I even encourage you to try TurboDiscing.

4) Have fun and never get mad. – This is a problem with many sports. People let the fear of losing affect their play. Everybody, including myself, loves to win because it brings recognition, accomplishment, and the feeling that all that work paid off.

But losing isn’t all that bad either. If you think about it, you learn much more from losing than winning. That is how you grow and become a better player.

Throwing Frisbee in Dog Suit Funny

“You don’t learn to catch until you drop the disc, and you don’t learn to throw until you throw it into the ground a few hundred times”

This quote pertains to everything about Ultimate. Losing a game allows you to discover what didn’t work, it allows you to fine-tune your plays and to come back even stronger the next time. With that being said you should play your hardest and expect to win, but realize the crucial benefits of a loss. Try not to get mad or annoyed at teammates when they mess up because it will only make them play worse. Instead, encourage and help them with what they need work on. I have seen more teams fall apart because players start pointing fingers when they begin to lose. In reality, a team that becomes stronger when they are losing is the team that makes an awesome comeback in the end. The bottom line is to respect yourself and respect your teammates, good things come to positive players.

Always catch with 2 hands Ultimate Frisbee5) Catch with 2 hands when possible. – I can’t stress this enough. Stretch your arms above you so they are perfectly straight. Got it? Now look at your two wrists and  bring your arms to your waist making a circle. If a disc is thrown to you within any area of the imaginary wrist circle you just drew catch with 2 hands! …Always! We all drop the disc, especially at the most crucial times. Using the other hand is the best insurance policy one can get. Only do a 1-handed catch when you really need those extra few inches of reach. You can see to the right that even Da Vinci himself stressed this crucial Ultimate Frisbee tip by drawing this famous picture. The dashed-line circle represents the area where you should ALWAYS catch with two hands.

6) Immerse yourself – Everyone is capable of being great at Ultimate. It is important to understand that skill takes time. As you learn more and more, the game of Ultimate will start to make sense. You will start to see why vert stacks and ho stacks are so important and so on. Each sub-tip below feeds into every other sub-tip.

Take practice seriously. Im not going to mention that you should give 100% every practice, that’s a given. I am talking about attendance. If you really want to become good just simply attend practice. Ultimate Frisbee asks for commitment and dedication, and in return you will gain essential skills and knowledge without even realizing it.

Watch what works. You know how teachers tell you not to plagiarize? Screw that. I want you to copy what your elders do. When I joined a college team there were five people on my team that were amazing highly-experienced players that played for far longer than I did. I’m not going to lie, I was jealous. I knew the basics but they opened me up to a new world of tricks, plays, moves, and overall skill. I saw them low-release flick and copied, I analyzed exactly how they skied other players and I applied it to myself, I observed how they cut and I bettered my own cutting. I grew as a player just by watching better players which leads into our next tip..

Pro-Ultimate Frisbee. There are professional teams out there that execute plays, cuts, and throws perfectly. Full-game professional Ultimate footage can be found Online and even watched on ESPN (this link is a scheduled times). Watching pro games are extremely entertaining, weirdly addicting, and they will help you observe crucial aspects of the game on an entire new level.

1 2 kaboom ultimate frisbee play7) Use  plays!– When I first started playing Ultimate we used to just run around catching and throwing the disc because thats all we knew. Yea, we knew plays existed but what we were doing worked just fine… WRONG. Plays add organization and tactics to Ultimate that make point scoring go much more smoothly. I never realized the usefulness of plays until I joined a college team that used them every single point. Simple plays like the common Vert Stack and Ho Stack caused for much less running while doubling efficiency. TurboDisc and Mailman helped score points in a fraction of the time it used to take. The list goes on, the main point is to try something different than the average Man on Man Defense in your local pick-up league or college team. You won’t regret it.

A few more tips to help…

  • Face-guarding. A very common play is man on man defense. When covering your man the best thing to do is to look him/her in the eye at all times. It will feel weird taking your eyes completely off the disc but that’s what Up Calls are for. By looking into your marks eyes it will be extremely hard for them to escape you and get open for the disc. It also helps to keep your arms out, this makes you bigger and harder to throw around. You will be playing a much tighter defense which, in turn, will decrease the chances of your opponent receiving the disc. When you hear a teammate yell UP! It means to turn around and try to block the disc.
  • The Jump-in. In a game players always seem to land inches short of scoring a point in the end zone. If your teammate is standing within a foot of the end zone I recommend the good ol’ jump-in. The other team will most likely be guarding in front of your teammate and in the end zone, forgetting about the back side. The average human can jump 5 feet, and the average Ultimate player can probably double that. The goal is to sprint to the thrower from behind and jump a few feet before reaching the end zone. At that instant your teammate will pop the disc up enough for you to catch it while still in the air, you will then land in the end zone. This is much easier than it sounds and it works almost every time. In my opinion, the jump-in is less risky then throwing into a super crowded end zone.

ultimate frisbee tipsTake a Dump. In some sports it is frowned upon to pass backwards. Which makes sense I suppose. If you spent all that time working it up field why go backwards? Clear your mind of this nonsense if you are playing Ultimate. Most plays revolve around dumping the disc backwards usually followed by a swing. The dump/swing combo switches the field and previously covered players become open for you to “put” it to them. If no one is open another dump/swing should take place.  Ultimate should be played on a “3 steps forward, 1 step back” basis.  In other words, work the disc up 30 feet and dump it back 10, swing, and throw another 30 feet. If your team manages to keep possession you will find yourself in the end zone soon enough. This is the very basis of Horizontal Stack and how to break the Cup.

  • The Wind. Nature can either be your best friend or your worst enemy. It is important to consider the wind before making a decision to throw the disc. For example, if there is even the slightest wind blowing against you the Hammer throw will not work as efficiently, along with push pass and some other throws. If the wind is coming from the side you can use it as an advantage to help curve the disc into a hard-to-reach spot. In most cases the wind is bad so be careful, think, and be Chilly.