Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keep Ultimate Alive in Columbus!

The following call to arms was emailed to all Columbus Ultimate players, but we're re-posting it in case anyone missed it (spam filters, etc.). Please read and help out if you can!
When CUDA was founded, it was a small organization of dedicated volunteers who primarily provided Summer League. It has grown to provide Spring League, 2 Summer Leagues, Fall Hat Tournaments, Winter League, and has formed a partnership with Andy 24. CUDA (a state-registered non-profit) now handles nearly $30,000 annually but still relies on an ever-decreasing pool of willing volunteers who spend an astounding amount of their own time to help the entire community.

We are in dire need of help. You are a part of the community and we need you to step up and commit some time to CUDA events. We need you to serve on the Planning Committee, help plan leagues, recruit players, write articles for the website or contact sponsors. We need you to captain teams, teach clinics, pick up t-shirts and discs, crunch numbers on spreadsheets, help prepare reports or help plan our future. We need you to give a little of your time to help support this organization that provides so much.

CUDA has grown exponentially in recent years in response to the demand for leagues and events and we have received the support of some new faces in our pool of volunteers, but we reply predominantly on about 3% of our nearly 400 members.

If you're wondering what you get in return for your efforts, we reward our volunteers with gifts and a party. We don't pay people for their efforts- I know it looks like we make enough money to pay people, but all of our income goes to providing ultimate.

So if being able to play ultimate is important to you or if you have something so say or if you'd like to see changes, now is the time to step up. Please help us continue to grow ultimate in Columbus and provide high-quality leagues and events.

Come to the next CUDA meeting to get started: Tuesday 10/27 at the King Ave Five at 7:00 PM.
If you can't make it to the meeting but you'd like to attend, please drop an email to and we'll talk to you about what you would like to do to help out.

The King Avenue Five is at 945 King Ave. in Grandview.

Thanks for your time
Matt Barlow

Please send email corrections/updates to the account.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Andy 24 2009

Registration is going on for the Andy 24 Ultimate Event! If you're new to the Ultimate community, Andy 24 is a 24-hour Ultimate game played in memorial of Andrew Starinchak, a local player who was killed in a hit and run accident. Players come from all over the country to play in this continuous game, which runs from 7:00 PM on Friday, August 21st to 7:00 PM on Saturday. All proceeds go to support the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus.

Registration is easy and cheap, and can be found over on our home site at For just $24.00 online you get all the Ultimate in the world, a great shirt made from high-quality wicking material and a grab bag of donated goodies. You can also buy a disc or extra shirt if you'd like.

Andy24 is Columbus' premiere Ultimate event. It's one-of-a-kind and a great time. Players take over Beekman Park on OSU's campus, and if you haven't been there before it's worth the price alone. The grass is immaculate and lush, the fields are level and soft. You can run and dive around like a dog and not feel a thing. For me and many others, it's also a chance to meet up with old friends coming into town as well as meet a bunch of new ones.

And of course, it's all for a great cause. No matter what your skill or experience level is, you owe it to yourself to experience this event and see what makes the community so special. Tons more information can be found at the Andy24 website.

Please note that if you, your company or employer, or anyone else you know would be interested in sponsorship opportunities for Andy 24, you can find more information here. Thanks!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Pick-Up Rises From the Ashes

I'm pleased to announce that pick-up is again a viable option for those in Columbus wishing to play a relaxed game of Ultimate outside of our many leagues and club teams. Join our Twitter Feed to get reminders and weather updates on weekly pick-up. Here are your options:

Sunday, Park of Roses - The CUDA pick-up game is finally getting good again, with 6s and 7s a dependable expectation. Numbers the last two weeks were low due to tournaments and Independence Day, but even then we've seen a handful of new players join the fray. Add back the regulars and this should be a great game moving forward. Park of Roses, Sunday, meet at 3:15 in the back of the park.

Wednesday, Academy Park - This is a newer game I haven't been to, but Adam Shea from the Monday League says they've been consistently playing from 8:00 until dark every week. Obviously Wednesday leaguers can't play, but this is a good option for any Monday players or area people new to Ultimate. Academy Park on Morse Road, Wednesday, meet at 8:00.

Wednesday, Park of Roses - There's actually a pick-up game going on the last few weeks by the softball fields at the Park of Roses during league play. It's a group of 8-10 men and women, and they say they come every week at 7:00 to play. This is another great Monday/beginner player option, and perhaps something that should combine with Academy Park, since they are near each other. Park of Roses Softball Fields, Wednesday meet at 7:00 PM.

Email or comment with any questions or other games you know of around Columbus.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lost and Found

I will keep a running list of all the things I currently have that were left at the fields. Please email me if you believe any of this stuff belongs to you.

Red and white cleats (seriously? you left your cleats?)
Women's tortoise shell sunglasses
Women's black flip flops (I believe left on the first week)

More coming, I have some other stuff in my trunk.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How To Throw a Forehand

Today I'm going to give some basic tips for beginner's trying to learn forehand. I have taught dozens of players how to throw forehand and I find there are usually a few simple things holding brand new players back from success.

First, a preface. Every successful throw in Ultimate is a compilation of three factors: spin, force and angle. The angle of the disc upon release dictates its flight path. The force dictates its distance. The spin dictates its speed, steadiness and, usually, it's completion.

New players focus on force. "How hard can I whip my arm around?" You can forget it, because it's not important for 90% of the throws you will make in a game. When learning the game, all you really need to know is spin, spin, spin.


The hardest thing about learning forehands is how awkward the grip feels in your hand. If you are being taught by a college or club player, they may teach you the "power grip," designed for maximum spin. However, I encourage all first year players to use the beginner's grip.

In this picture, the index finger is pointed straight to the center of the disc and your middle finger is flush to the inside rim. Your thumb grips the top of the disc. You need to understand what each finger is doing here: Your thumb is just holding the disc. Your index finger is supporting the disc so it doesn't fall limp against your side. Your middle finger is the only one really doing any work. Therefore, it is very important to have it in the right position. You must have the pad of your fingertip pushed flush to the inside rim of the disc. This is a common, overlooked point among beginners.

Your stance is simple, you always set yourself in the same position: Face downfield with squared shoulders, keep your feet a little wider than shoulder length apart. Knees bent a little in an "active position." To throw a forehand, you will step straight out horizontally with your non-pivot foot. Do not practice throwing by stepping forward, because in a game you would be stepping straight into a defender.

Since it's already late June, I'll assume anyone reading this has already been practicing forehands for at least a few weeks. Therefore, I'll jump into some tips for players who are still struggling to keep the disc flat and accurate.

1. Only practice short (10 yard) throws. I know that when throwing with a friend or before a game, it's much more fun to practice long throws. I'm also sure a baby would rather go ride a bike or drive a car before he learns how to walk, but there is unfortunately an order to these things. You must first master a simple, short throw.

2. Take your arm (force) out of the equation. The reason your forehands are not working is almost always because you are not putting enough spin on the disc. When you shorten your distance to ten yards, even the weakest arms should be able to complete that distance by only using their wrist to throw the disc. Even though it is not ideal in a game, try keeping your arm close to your body so you are only throwing with your wrist and fingers. These are two things that impart spin. Once you can whip the disc with a lot of spin, then you can take your arm out and put force back into your throws.

3. Your middle finger throws forehands. Spin, spin, spin. Your middle finger is the last point of contact on the disc, which is why it is so important that the pad of your finger be flush with the inside rim. Your final action is to curl your finger in, putting as much spin with that pad as possible.

Think of your body like a whip. Why does a whip crack? When thrown, the large force begins at the top of the whip and travels down to the tip like a wave crashing on the beach. Just like that wave, as it gets closer to the tip it focuses that energy and gets faster and faster. Finally, all that energy hits the tip of the whip, which snaps it so fast it breaks the sound barrier, creating that "pop."

The exact same physics apply to a forehand throw. Your body is the whip, with the pad of your middle finger being the tip. Your entire throw is a force flowing through your sweeping arm, into your rotating wrist down to your curling finger. The disc snaps out of your hand with more spin than a presidential press conference. This is the action you want to practice - creating spin.

* * *

Hope this helps you on the field. Remember, not having a good forehand does not mean you shouldn't throw forehands. Always make the right throw depending on where your cutter is moving, even if you don't think you'll make it. Turnovers are inevitable, and the only way you'll get better. Keep practicing and throwing for fun, and you'll be better than BK in no time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Common Ultimate Rules Explained

Today I'm going to go over some of the most common rule calls in a game, and oftentimes some of the most confusing calls for beginners (and even veterans). If you have additional questions or corrections to anything in this post, please use the comment section to share the answers with everyone. I will start with the official UPA rule and then repeat in layman's terms.

1. Picks

1. A pick occurs whenever an offensive player moves in a manner that causes a defensive player guarding (II.G) an offensive player to be obstructed by another player. Obstruction may result from contact with, or the need to avoid, the obstructing player.
2. A pick can be called only by the obstructed player and must be announced by loudly calling “pick” immediately after it occurs.
3. If play stops according to XVI.C, players reposition according to XVI.C.4. In addition, the obstructed player is then allowed to move to recover the relative position lost because of the pick.

Ok. You cannot run your defender into somebody, whether intentionally or not. If your defender (or yourself on defense) has to slow down in anyway, even if they don't hit somebody, it's still a pick. The person who got picked has to shout "Pick!" as loud as humanly possible, many times in a row until everyone on the field has stopped. A little known rule is that if you don't yell it loudly enough, everyone throws water bottles at you and kicks you in the shin.

Here's where it gets a little tricky. So the pick is called and everybody stops. If the disc is in the air, though, the play is still going on for whoever is involved (the person and defender thrown to). Never stop catching the disc/defending the disc if it's coming your way! If the disc is thrown to the person who picked somebody, and they don't catch it, that's a turnover. If they catch it, it will go back to the thrower because they only got open by picking somebody. However, if the pick happened away from the play and did not affect it at all, the disc will stay with the new catcher. The picked player catches up with the offender while play is stopped, and then the new thrower checks the disc in.

One more thing! You can't call a pick if you weren't ten feet from your person to begin with. Sorry, the rule doesn't allow you to catch up for your own slowness.

2. Stall Count
The UPA rules are very long, and since you're American and have almost no attention span, I'm going to summarize for you. You can start your mark when you are within 3 meters (ten feet) of the thrower. A stall count is ten seconds and you have to speak loudly enough for the thrower to hear. People stall in different ways, ie. "stall one, stall two..." or "one...two...three..."

Ok, so you got to ten, that's a stall, right? It is a stall and turnover the millisecond you utter the first syllable in your tenth count. Got that? Your time is up at the beginning of that final count, not at the end. So, really, a thrower should consider "9" to be the end all emergency of getting rid of the disc.

Just like many other calls, if the thrower disagrees and thinks he got rid of the disc in time, he yells "Contest!" Then the disc goes back to stall 8 (restarts with "Stalling 8...9...Ten!")

If you think your mark is stalling you to fast, call "Fast Count!" and he has to go back one count before the count you called it on. If this happens after stall 5 it goes back to "stall 6". If the bastard does it twice in a row it goes back to 1. Don't count fast!

3. Fouls
This is a very complex area of rules, so I'm going to break it down into two of the most common fouls. First, as an overview, Ultimate is non-contact in the same way high school basketball is non-contact, if you're familiar enough with basketball for that help. Incidental contact happens and should not be called, so long as two people are honestly just trying to get to the disc. That said...

Jump Discs:
I'm going to speak from the view of the offense. If you think somebody physically impedes your catching of the disc, it's a foul. With jump disc situations, this usually means they box you out with their arms/elbows or they push off of you when jumping to catch the disc. Body position is very important here, because if somebody has the right angle on where the disc is falling, it's OK to box you out with their body, like a rebound in basketball. Basically, if they are in front and the disc is coming down into their lap, that's your problem. But when they start crowding you out with their arms or swinging their hips around, that's a problem.

Likewise, when you both go up, they can't knock your arms out of the way as they reach for the disc, or put their other hand on your shoulder as they go up. It's up to you to decide what's incidental or not, so don't let other people tell you what you should call. If two people are running hard and trip each other, or if two people have equal position and their hands brush up as they jump and vie for the disc, that's incidental. That stuff happens. Don't call every little bump. Be assertive and aggressive when you go for the disc, both on offense and on defense, and make the loud call when you think something was unfair.

Obviously, if the call is made against you and you disagree, yell "Contest." Don't ever get angry about calls, just contest if you disagree or say "No Contest" if you agree. It's pretty simple.

Another common foul is when you're making an in-cut, and somebody tears through you from behind trying to get the disc. A lof of times this only feels like a foul because you are so embarrassed that you did not run to the disc, and somebody who was behind you got there first. You should be embarrassed, that was lazy on your part. Tsk-tsk.

Still, other times the defender gets too excited. They cannot bowl you over or knock your arms out of the way as they rush/dive to that disc. It can be a dangerous play, and if you feel like you would have had at least a shot at getting to that disc before them if they hadn't physically impeded you, make the call. However, if they just brush you with more of that "incidental contact" as they whoosh past you at a hundred miles an hour, chances are you just weren't running hard. Take the incidental contact on the chin and give that one to the defender who was running his/her ass off.

What if you have your hand on the disc when the defender comes rushing through to knock it away? Insert witty lead-in here...

3. Strip Calls

It is illegal to strip the disc out of your hands. However, you are not in the clear the moment your pinky's fingernail touches plastic. The line is drawn when you stop rotation of the disc. This is easiest to determine when you catch the disc with both hands, alligator style, like EVERY SINGLE ULTIMATE PLAYER SHOULD DO 95% OF THE TIME. It's your call to make, so if you think you had that disc in your grip, shout "Strip!" and possession will be returned to you.

If, however, your hand was on the disc, maybe bobbling it a little, and somebody tore that thing into the ground, let it go. They made a great play.

* * *

This is a long post, and I doubt any of you have made it this far, so I'm going to stop. I will look to continue explaining common rules in this blog throughout the summer, so check back often and let me know through the comments section if you have any specific questions. If you'd like to review the UPA rules, they are easily accessible at the link to the right.

Remember, no call is worth your self respect. Don't get dragged down into arguments, even if you are right. It really is just a game. I remember all the little people I've played throughout the years who couldn't follow that simple advice, and they are annoying, petty people. Don't be like them. That's not to say you should be passive aggressive and roll your eyes when you let something go, but remember that in every game, of every sport, there will be bad calls that don't go your way. Ask for clarification from an older player if you need to, make the calls you are confident making and walk away from the battles not worth fighting.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Westerville Summer League

As CUDA registration winds down, Westerville Ultimate is just starting to form teams for their 4th season of summer league. It's a great option for people in the northeast part of the county or anyone just itching to fill their last few empty days of the week with more Ultimate.

Unlike CUDA, Westerville runs their leagues through the city recreation department. Games are played at Heritage Park, which scores major points for having flat fields free of potholes and mole mounds. They are also marked and painted throughout the summer, which makes baby Jesus smile.

Last year the league had 8 teams, and registration is done a little differently. It's coed, but you can register entire teams if you've got enough friends. If you're alone in the world, they'll still make sure you have a home with one of the teams, so no worries there. Well, no Ultimate worries. You should still try to be more social in your life.

The real twist in Westerville, however, comes with the referees. That's right, Westerville games are all reffed by at least two officials who make every call on the field. You don't stall count, you don't check your feet and you don't call your own fouls. They follow MLU rules, which include a 7-seven stall count and two 15-minute timed halves as two of the biggest changes. Last year was the first in this experiment, and after the refs gained experience and the players got used to the new rules, play generally went off without a hitch. The shorter stall count (and not hearing it out loud) forced faster disc movement and decision making, and passive-agressive spirit arguments disappeared, although they were sometimes replaced with yelling at the refs.

It's different, but worth giving a shot. Westerville offers a nice alternative to the traditional Ultimate that CUDA provides, and at $210/team the price is great. League winners get t-shirts and the final tourney winners all get shorts. If you're interested in signing up a team, yourself, or just getting more info, email Westerville Ultimate today.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ultimate in the News

Two more articles graced my inbox this morning that I want to share. The first is a great piece on women's Ultimate in the The New York Times' Fashion & Style section. Why is Ultimate in the Fashion & Style section? Because we're hip and cool, that's why. We're the William Shatner of the sports world.
Photo by Andrew Davis

"And the rise of women in Ultimate is another crucial part of the sport’s growth. Watching these women play, one can see the athleticism that has attracted them: gorgeous arcing throws, full-extension dives, insane vertical leaps, and discs pinched out of the sky with the barest of fingertips."

Next is a heartwrenching story of youth Ultimate in the inner-city, which I didn't actually read yet. Give me a break, I'm busy at work and feeling a little sick today. Whoever it was that told me Egg McMuffins were surprisingly nutritional deserves a sharp kick to the fruitstand.

Photo By Jim Bates

"Mr. Jamshid is what the kids of Bailey Gatzert Elementary call the school's guidance counselor. In 15 years, Jamshid Khajavi, who came here from Iran, has built one of Seattle's poorest inner-city schools into the quirkiest of sports dynasties. All as a way of mentoring kids."

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Pick-Up Problem

Mike Schelle here. It's a little known fact, sometimes even to myself, that I am CUDA's supposed coordinator for pick-up Ultimate. Or maybe I got voted out, it doesn't matter. What matters is that pick-up in Columbus has historically struggled for various reasons. Today I'm going to go over those problems and some possible solutions, then see if enough people are out there to get pick-up back on track.

Right now pick-up is advertised on our main website for Sundays at 3:00 PM at the Park of Roses. I've been here for three years, and only in the first were numbers ever consistent enough to be worth the trouble. Here are the problems as I see it.

1. With lots of college and club teams in Columbus, practices/games get in the way of coming to pick-up.

2. The times often change several times a year, and few people ever show up on time.

3. I lied, there really aren't any other problems.

You can't fix problem one. Club players aren't going to sacrifice practice/tournaments for pick-up. The good news is Columbus has 750,000 people in it, and only about 100 of them are playing club Ultimate. 200 tops. There are players - newer players, youth players, Masters (old) players and those just too busy to commit to club teams that can still make a vibrant pick-up group.

The second problem is the bigger problem, but ironically the easiest to fix. Are you ready? When you show up to pick-up whenever the hell you want, you are wasting everyone else's time. How am I supposed to set a field up at 3:00 and then assume people will show up at 3:30? 3:45? Exactly how much of my time should I waste before deciding to go home? And it's not just me - this is the same question every player is asking him/herself as they get in the car each Sunday. Why drive out to Whetstone when nobody might be there? How do I know I'm not wasting my time? It's a snowball effect that creates apathy until nobody bothers showing up.

There are several things we can do to fix the problem. Social networking is a great way to alleviate the risk in coming out every Sunday. The new CUDA Twitter feed is a perfect way to update the community Sunday mornings on the weather and liklihood of a game. If I know it's going to storm, I can post that pick-up is cancelled and nobody wastes their time. If I know there's a giant tourament that weekend and numbers will be unnaturally low, I can cancel and nobody wastes their time. The less people waste their time, the more goodwill they will have to show up the next weekend.

The second thing we can do is create a group of regular pick-up players right here, right now. If we get a core group together, with phone numbers that we can call when we need a few extra players one day, then we create trust. If I know ahead of time that John Doe and Mary Smith and so on and so forth will probably be there, then I am more likely to show up myself.

So if you want to play more Ultimate on Sundays, then email me at with the subject "Pick up." I will make a list serv to help coordinate games with, and we can decide if we like 3:00 or another time. Then, if the weather's nice, we can get things rolling this weekend.

And be sure to come out to Como Park tonight, for mixed pick-up at 6:00. Only lightning will keep us away, and numbers have been great despite the poor weather. If you have any comments about pick-up or in general, please add them to article with the links below. It's easy and I don't think you have to sign up for Blogger or anything. Feedback is very important!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Disc Golf coming to the Wii!

This might be a little off-topic, but it's something I've been waiting for ever since I first heard about the Wii. The door is now open for an Ultimate game! Think of the hundreds upon hundreds of copies that would be sold...

Seriously, though, it's important that disc sports begin to crack the mainstream like this. Although it's not a stand-alone game, this will have a very positive effect on disc golf and, by proxy, Ultimate.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mixed Club Ultimate Reboots in Columbus

Mixed Ultimate is growing across the country, and in Columbus its no different. Right now there's a core group, led by Natalie Heil, looking to raise a new mixed team from the ashes of last year's Zatfig group and begin the trip to Nationals.

Anybody whose played summer league is familiar with mixed Ultimate. Playing with both men and women can bring on challenges of meshing together varying athletic and physical abilities, but the chemistry of a good mixed team can be unrivaled. It's a unique way to play and takes a different mindset than on an open or women's teams, but the rewards are tremendous.

In years past, Columbus' club mixed teams have had trouble keeping a core group together willing to put in the work for a Nationals appearance. This year the goals are clear, and players willing to commit are already coming out in strong numbers. Several planning meetings have already plotted out some key dates and tournaments for the summer. Right now everyone interested in playing is knocking off the winter rust with pick-up play on Tuesdays night at Como Park. The last two weeks have drawn great numbers despite terrible weather, and play has been refreshingly competitive for April.

If you're interested in mixed Ultimate this year, or even if you just want to play some pick-up, then get over to Como Park tomorrow and every Tuesday at 6:00 PM. We'll be gelling together a few more weeks until May 16th and 23rd, when weekend tryouts will be held to settle a final roster. If you have any questions, come on out to play or email Natalie at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ultimate On the Rise

This article on CNBC found its way to my inbox today.

"In 2006, there were 3.9 million people playing competitive frisbee. In 2007, that number climbed to 4 million and last year, there were 4.9 million ultimate frisbee players..."

I'd be interested in some more information. Where is this sporting goods association getting their stats? That's a pretty big jump to make in one year... makes me a little skeptical, although I'm sure Ultimate is on the rise. Ultimate has nowhere to go but up, just like my bright future (according to one supportive mom I recently interviewed).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

College Sectionals in the Columbus Dispatch

College Sectionals were held this past weekend in Granville, and the Dispatch's online edition carried this video of some of the womens' action. Look for cameos from our own Emily Wallace (Thug) and Emily Puchala (Pooch) as they pimp the Columbus Ultimate scene. Is there a high-paying, nationally syndicated broadcasting gig in their futures? Is my no-look backhand huck known throughout the land as The Frozen Rope-A-Dope? The answer to both questions is no.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring League Kickoff!

Spring League started this past Saturday at Como Park, kicking off the outdoors Ultimate season in Columbus. The weather held up and teams came early for a new tradition - Saturday brunch. Every week a different team will be responsible for supplying bagels, fruit and a special Ultimate brunch item (this week it was Bloody Marys). The idea is to get more people out on a regular basis, since the spring weather sometimes leads to anemic turnout.

For what was the first game of the year for many, play was actually pretty decent. I saw some layout Ds and some great backhand hucks, although the wind and winter rust played havoc on quite a few forehands. Both match-ups yielded tight, split games so the parity seems to be excellent this year.

As the weather continues to trend upwards, we'll also try to get Sunday pick-up back online, so everyone who wants can get into running shape for the upcoming Summer League season.