What makes ultimate such a great sport in my opinion is that it is intense, but without the aggression common in many contact sports. As a non-contact sport, it makes playing mixed possible, and is almost the first thing I tell people about when I get the familiar puzzled look when describing our beloved sport.
So back to basics, rule 1.1 – non-contact sport. In every part of the game, all players should always be aiming to avoid any contact with each other. Importantly this is restated in the first rule in section 17 – Fouls.
Dangerous play (17.1) is considered:
“reckless disregard for the safety of fellow players regardless of whether or when contact occurs … and is treated as a foul. This rule is not superseded by any other rule.“
I want to talk specifically about this rule in regard to situations where you are thinking of making a bid even though your opponent player has a better position on the disc than you. I see this as an important rule because of three reasons:
1. There is potential to injure yourself and/or the other player *
2. Bad spirit – even if the other player doesn’t call a foul, the rest of his team with a better view will mark down your spirit (eg. see Cananda vs Japan at Worlds 2012).
3. The rules are written so that even if you get the disc, you don’t gain the advantage if you initiated contact.
This last point provides a clear message to uphold the non-contact element of the sport. The rules state that when contact is initiated by either the defensive (17.2) or offensive (17.7) player, the opponent player will be be favoured in the ruling.
17.2 – states that a defensive receiving foul occurs when a defender initiates contact with a receiver before, or during, an attempt to catch the disc.
17.7 – states that an offensive receiving foul occurs when a receiver initiates contact with a defensive player before, or during, an attempt to catch the disc.
Even if you get the disc (on O or D), if you initiated any contact then your opponent can call a foul and you hand over the advantage. So the rules are clear, only make a play if you are confident there will be no contact.
Obviously, as with any rule, there is a grey area about how much contact is considered enough for a foul to be called, so I welcome your comments to this post. Here are some examples where I believe the players make good & bad decisions regarding this rule:
Here is an example of defensive players taking the wise decision not to bid knowing that it would result in contact:
Good example an offensive player making a bid on a disc despite not having position, and importantly not making contact. (sorry Nick, it’s the best example I could find)
This is an example of a bad defensive play where contact results in a foul call
Unfortunately I believe there is a worrying trend and expectation on D players to make a bid all discs to put pressure on the catch. This is a risky strategy, you may get a number of Ds, but are they worth it when that time comes when you do injure yourself or worse the opponent? I would urge precaution over glory.
There is a lot of technique and strategy to getting yourself in the right position to enable you to make a play without contact. Advanced positioning is something we don’t often get a chance to teach/drill at SB. If there is enough interest I will attempt to run a drill on this later in the summer.
So, to conlcude – only make a play on a disc when you can be sure there is no chance of initiating contact (before or after getting the disc) with the other player. Admit you have been boxed out and get the force on quickly if the disc is still in play, or if they scored, congratulate them on a good play (and get yourself along to more SB fitness training 🙂
* I have seen broken bones protruding through skin because of dangerous plays. The player realised pretty quickly that making that D was not worth it.