The Game of Ultimate

Ultimate is a non-contact team sport played with a flying disc by thousands enthusiasts worldwide. It combines elements of basketball, American football, soccer and rugby into a fast-paced athletic sport. The game was originally called “Ultimate frisbee,” but is now simple called Ultimate due to the term frisbee being a registered trademark of the Wham-O toy company.

This game is played on a similar, but more narrow, soccer field. There are two teams, with seven members appointed to each team at a time. Team members are given certain positions to play in this game based on their individual skill set. The object of Ultimate is to score points by catching a pass in the opponent’s end zone.

There are strategies of both offense and defense used for Ultimate, much like in American football. A basic offensive strategy is to create open paths on the field for members to pass the disc through. Those better at throwing flying discs are referred to as “handlers,” and those better at catching the disc are referred to as “cutters.”

Ultimate Offensive Strategies

A common offensive strategy, the Vertical Stack, lines up the team players up the length of the field in order to better that teams chances of having an open cutter. Much like this strategy, the Horizontal Stack, works in a similar fashion. Handlers will line up across the width of the field in attempt to create more opportunities for their team.

Other offensive strategies include: Feature (or German), Spread (or Slit Stack), Hybrid, and Tri-force (also called Trinity play or Triad.) The feature strategy lines up three cutters between the downfield and the end-zone. The remaining cutters line up closer to that team’s handlers. This strategy forces the handlers to focus more on only one cutter, know as the feature.

The Spread or Slit Stack, on the other hand, positions three handlers in a horizontal stack formation then four cutters in the downfield area. This creates a large opening in the middle of the field for the most active cutter to make his move. The hybrid strategy creates mini-teams of two cutters within the team. One of these mini-team takes a vertical stack role on one side of the field while the handlers position into a horizontal stack. This strategy allows an opening in the middle of the field for players to use to their advantage. One last offensive strategy, the Tri-force, breaks one team into three mini-teams and one “option.” Each mini team stays on opposite sides of the field to create a sort of “monkey in the middle-like” tactic.

Ultimate Defensive Strategies

Apart from these offense strategies, there are many defense strategies used in Ultimate as well. The most basic defensive strategy is known as “force.” In this strategy the handler’s access to half the field is blocked leaving the remaining field, the force, open. The side that is block is called the break side because the handler would have to break through it in order to throw toward the force side. This “force” term is used for a variety of moves such as: force home, force away, force sideline, force center, force up, force forehand, force flick, and force back.

Another defensive tactic, “Straight-up” or “No-Huck,” is the opposite of force. For this strategy, the player positions themselves in between the opposing team’s handler and the end zone. The handler is prevented from throwing a long throw towards the center of the field.

“One-On-One” defense is where each defense team member blocks each member of the offense team. This tactic is based on individual positioning on the field. Those with skill sets above the opposing team’s players selects a weaker opponent to guard. It is common for a member of one team to always guard the same person in order to determine that player’s skill set. This defensive strategy is much like the “Zone” defense strategy. For the zone defense strategy, the defending team members guard a specific area of the field instead of another player. These zones that are covered by the player are constantly changing as the flying disc moves up and down the field. This defense is best used in harsh weather conditions, or to prevent offense from making long passes.

A zone is sometimes called a "Wedge," "Cup,” or "Wall" depending on the type of zone defense. The wedge strategy is where two members of the defense team work together to allow more of their team members to play up the field. This is done by one person giving the handler a force while the other blocks any throw toward the force side.

Unlike the wedge, the cup strategy uses three players arranged in a semi-circle. One player marks the opposing team’s handler with a force while the other two players block the open side of the field. This strategy prevents the offense from making an long throws.

The wall strategy uses four players for defense. One player is the marker while the other three form a horizontal line across the field. This prevents the handler from making long throws and progressing forward. Other defense tactics such as the “Electric Slide” and the “Junk Defense” also work in a similar fashion.

Like any other sport, Ultimate has is own set of rules to create an even and fair game experience. While a player possesses the disc, for example, they may not run much like in basketball. Instead, while stationary, the player must pass the disc to another team member. If the disc hits the ground or it is intercepted by the opposing team, the opposition then takes possession. Possession also switches if a receiver is out of bounds when catching the disc. Apart from all the different strategies to win and the game rules to play fair, various altered versions of ultimate are played everyday for the pure enjoyment of this sport. A rules and strategies change to better please the players, and flying discs continue to be a great enjoyment for everyone.

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