Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Ultimate Mondays

Mondays are awesome these days. Well, Monday evenings to be exact. The rest of the day can still be awful, there are no guarantees. But for the past few months Mondays have meant playing ultimate frisbee with my friends.

Ultimate frisbee is something like a combination of soccer and football, except with a frisbee. (And technically it's just "ultimate" because "Frisbee" is a brand name...and not even the brand of discs we use.) At least I think I'm correct in saying it's like soccer/football, but I'm not really sure of the rules of either, so don't quote me on that.

I only have a few photos of an ultimate frisbee game, because there was one I didn't play in because I was sunburnt. It wasn't all of our usual crowd either so I'm not even sure who everyone is, but anyway there's a few basic action shots. I'd love to get some really cool close-up shots of throws and catches sometime! Of course, that means not playing. :(

In ultimate you have two end zones; ours are each marked by four small orange cones. To score a point, a player has to catch the disc while in the defense's end zone. You start out with each team standing in their end zone, and when both teams are ready, one player calls "Disc!" and throws the disc. At that point it belongs to the other team until they drop it. Basically anytime the disc is dropped the other team gets it. We usually have 9-14 people playing altogether; last night we had 11.

Technically ultimate is a non-contact sport, but that pretty much means you don't purposely tackle someone and it's a foul if you do so. But people do run into each other or get hit with the frisbee. We've had several close calls with people getting hit or nearly hit in the face or neck, or getting their feet stomped on...those three are the most possibly serious injuries, at least that we've run into so far... Unfortunately, my style of playing ultimate seems to end up with me landing on the ground quite a lot. The sad thing is that probably nearly 75% of the time it's my own fault, either because my feet slipped while trying to stop or turn too fast (I think I need cleats!), or I run into another player when I'm trying to get the disc. Diving for the frisbee is a valid (and impressive) way to play, but I may unintentionally do it more than necessary. Ha! My neck is very sore today because during last night's game I managed to trip over/crash into one of my own teammates while we both went after the disc, and I hit the ground hard which jarred my neck and shoulders pretty good.
However, I've also been run into, elbowed, kicked, tripped, etc. by other players, so it's not always my own fault. I'm just not really afraid to get in there and get dirty and possibly injured and that leads to...well, getting dirty and injured, surprisingly enough. :D It's kinda odd really, because I've never been one to play sports a whole lot, or to get into them much if I did, but I get really competitive about ultimate and end up out there playing hard and yelling when things aren't going well. Weird. I'm positive my game could use more skill and less injury, but it unfortunately hasn't gotten to that point yet. :/

I also still need to learn some more throws and perfect the ones I do know how to do. There are several different ways to throw a frisbee, from the basic backhand throw that most people know, to a hammer throw, which is throwing the disc vertically instead of horizontally...with the ideal finish being that it somehow flattens out by the time it has to be caught. That doesn't always happen though, so you find an extremely dangerous-looking disc hurtling down at your head. :/ (I don't much care for those, if you couldn't tell...) I really need to get myself a decent disc and practice some, because even my basic throw is somewhat unreliable and entirely dependent on how well I happen to be throwing that day.

As far as defense, there are two ways you can block people (as well as several much more complicated defensive maneuvers involving the whole team). You can stand in front of the person who's trying to pass the disc and distract them or try to knock down the disc as soon as they throw it. The other option (that I generally go with) is to block the players who are going to be trying to catch the disc when it's thrown. I find this much more effective. It's really interesting too, because the more you play, either as a group in general or during one game, you realize that there are certain people who will always end up blocking each other, or you can figure out who someone's likely to try to throw to and block that person, which adds some more strategy to the game.

This website has the basic rules, and diagrams of various types of plays: Ultimate Guide to Ultimate Frisbee. After reading through that I realized that there are several rules we don't really follow. We also don't keep score. At least, we kind of have an idea of which team is doing better and try to make sure the teams are even, but we don't keep track of the numbers. It sounds silly to play with no goal in mind, and normally that would bother me, but for some reason it doesn't in this case. 

At any rate, I find it to be a lot of fun! Great stress-relief and exercise because it takes some concentration and there's lots of running around involved. So that makes Monday nights something worth looking forward to. :) Afterward we usually either go hang out at someone's house or at McDonald's. Unfortunately it's getting dark sooner now and colder, so I'm not sure how much longer we'll be able to play. We really need to either find a lighted field to play in, play at some other time, or figure out a way to be more visible in the dark. Last night we had a lighted disc to play with once it got dark, but we could only see the disc and the people who had somewhat light-colored clothes on. The people in dark clothes were invisible or indistinguishable. The two tallest guys were both wearing blue, so it was pretty much impossible to tell them apart in the dark, and one was on my team and the other was not, so it was either going to be a really good thing to throw to one of them, or a dire mistake to do so! The cones marking the end zones were also invisible, so it was pretty hard to tell when anyone actually scored. So we gave up not long after it got dark and headed to McDonald's to eat and get warmed up.

Actually last night was a little crazier than usual because some of us were a bit hyper thanks to coffee from McDonald's. :) I ordered a mocha, expecting it to be hot and they gave me a frozen one instead. Well, they said to just keep that one and they'd make me a hot one too, so several of my friends shared the cold one and we were all, um, obviously caffeinated. Sometimes I think I really need that caffeine to get over my introverted tendencies in a crowd though. Of course it can go too far in the other direction, i.e. being very hyper and random... :D But I had a great time hanging out and talking with friends. We stayed there pretty late too. I guess McDonald's usually closes at eleven, so they would have eventually kicked us out, but we stayed there until a little after ten-thirty. At some point thinking "Oh, it's dark, but wait, it's only eight after all" turned into "Hey, no way it's as late as it looks...oh, nevermind, it is actually". :D

Anyway, that's one of my favorite things to do these days. I probably just bored half of my readers to tears though. Oops. I apologize. *tosses a friendly reconciliatory frisbee to you* What, what do you mean you hate frisbees...?

(I've also really got to figure out what to do about my addiction to emoticons. I ought to be able to write a blog post without these, right? :D :) :/ :P Right??) Hmph. I'm disappointed with myself.


Uncle Jim said...

You need one of these.

Natalie said...

And you need these ;)

I said we had a lighted disc like that, but we could only see the disc and not the players...

Uncle Jim said...

Perhaps something as simple as one of these for each player. One team could wear white, and the other red. If you clipped 'em to a front-facing belt loop, you'd know when your teammates were facing you and ready to receive a pass.