More than just a game for your dog

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that requires speed, skill and precision

Yes, Ultimate Frisbee is a real sport, and no, it’s not like playing with your dog in the park.

At least those are a few of the things Luca Stabile, a McGill student from the West Island who plays on McGill Ultimate Frisbee team, has heard some people say.

“It’s different than other sports,” Stabile said. “It’s still pretty demanding in terms of athleticism, although people don’t recognize that.”

For many, Ultimate Frisbee, which is normally referred to as “Ultimate,” is just a sport they played in elementary or high school. But it’s a lot more serious than people think, according to Stabile.

“When you’re on the field, you’re literally sprinting,” Stabile said, adding the sport demands a lot of cardiovascular strength.

Depending on the league, team size can vary from four-a-side or five-a-side to the standard seven-a-side. In 4v4 and 5v5 leagues, they play the width of a football field, but in the competitive divisions, they play the whole length of the field.

In standard leagues, there is no time limit to a game, but rather, a team must reach a certain number of points agreed upon by the teams before the game, which is usually 15. Some leagues with limited time on a field may set a time limit, and Stabile said most games are like soccer, with two halves of 45 minutes.

Changing players on the fly is allowed in recreational divisions, but in competitive leagues, players must stay on the field until a team scores a point. This can mean some long shifts at times.

“There was one game for the McGill B team, we were on the field for 30 minutes,” Stabile said. “That was really brutal.”

The rules of Ultimate are pretty simple. In fact, there’s only one big rule: don’t run with the disc. But Stabile said there are a lot more technicalities than that. A defending player cannot make contact with a receiver, and players have 10 seconds to throw the disc.

There’s a catch to this handful of rules—there are no referees. Players must call the fowls that are committed against them. In competitive leagues, however, there are observers to settle disputes between players.

“Some people who know all the rules will abuse them essentially, and people who know [the rules] less get taken advantaged of,” Stabile said.

Ultimate is not just a bunch of people throwing around a disc trying to score points, though—there are a lot of strategies players must learn.

“There are a lot of offensive formations that you run, similar to football, to get the disc up the field,” Stabile said.

In Ultimate, there are three different ways to throw the disc. There’s the backhand, the classic forehand throw known as the flick and the hammer, an overhead throw.

The sport is popular in Montreal as the main league in the city, Association Ultimate de Montréal (AUM), had more than 215 teams and 2,991 members in 2014.

Universities in Montreal are also forming teams to compete against each other, although not through U SPORTS. McGill, Concordia, Université de Montréal and Université de Québec à Montréal will all be competing in the AUM upcoming spring season.

If you want to get involved with Concordia’s Ultimate Frisbee team, you can visit their website for details.

Graphic by Thom Bell

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