Why Hire an Ultimate Player

It's a sacrifice we have to make
It’s a sacrifice we have to make

Lungs hurting, heart pounding, legs moving slowly then faster as you try to get away from your defenseman. Disc in the air, brain working to get to the best spot to catch it, instincts take over, you are flying. Disc caught, get up and throw. Repeat til the end of the point. Point over, now on defense.

Mental adjustment as now you are on defense. Follow your man, know where the disc is. React and adjust, be proactive- move to the left to block a pass to another opponent. Run, go, adjust. All the while you are in the zone, there is nothing in the world that can distract you from what your body is doing, what you are feeling and what your instincts are telling you to do.

All the while you are doing this, there is one thing that is going on in your mind: “I am doing this out of passion. No one has forced me go out there and give it my all at practices, games or tournaments in the baking sun, driving rain or the occasional freezing rain/snow storm. I do this because I love it. There’s no money, no autographs or hiding from the paparazzi.”

Over the years, I have noticed some of the attributes that are key to not only in the sport of Ultimate Frisbee, but to the work environment. Competitive Ultimate players bring all of these qualities to the table and it goes without saying that they are vital for any organization.  For this article, I consider a competitive ultimate player as someone who goes to tourneys, not just a summer league player but someone who travels to play.

Team work

Team Canada in the Sunday's WUGC Finals in Vancouver BC, Canada
2008 Team Canada in the Sunday’s WUGC Finals in Vancouver BC, Canada

By far the most important aspect of any ultimate player. With a group of 20+ guys (I am going with guys but there are also competitive women’s and coed teams) who are all your teammates, biggest fans and inspiration. Everyone has a role on the team- some guys are offensive quarterbacks (also known as handlers), cutters (guys who run non stop to get the disc) and the longs (who are the glory guys scoring all the goals). On defense it is even more important to know your role. You have to be one step ahead of your check (the guy you are defending) and be instinctual and know how to react and quickly. The other guys are the bench warmers that only play 3 points at a weekend tourney. Everyone is important and they all know their roles.

As an employee, an ultimate player brings to the table that they know their role, that a system needs to be understood and the hierarchy is important. We also bring the ability to adapt and to take criticism from our teammates and learn from their collective wisdom.

Competitive

Focusing on the disc.
Focusing on the disc.

There is no denying that when they get out there they want to win. It’s not just the result at the end of the game that matters, it’s every little battle that occurred during the game that matter. Ultimate players never want to lose a battle fairly but they won’t cheat to get there either. It’s a long way back to the other end zone after the other team scores that gives you time to ponder the outcome of the last point.

As an employee, an Ultimate player will strive to do their best with what they have. They will show you that they are capable to giving their all and if the result is not what they expected, they will continue to improve until they win. Not just the big problems but every little one along the way to success.

Individual strengths and goals

Some players are naturally gifted at this sport as they came from an athletic background. For others it took time but their passion and commitment has led them to great places.

I know for myself that I am not the greatest cutter but I am a decent handler. I will sacrifice myself as a pawn so that a teammate can get open so that the play can continue.

As an employee, an Ultimate player strives to improve themselves as individuals and as teammates as well.  They all have the same goal in mind: to win but we won’t sacrifice spirit of the game to get there (see below for more on this).

As an employee, an Ultimate player brings to the table the ability to know their strengths and weaknesses.

Adapt to change

You’re waiting for the point to begin. Your offense has been called and you’re playing long. The Pull goes up (like the kickoff in Canadian football) and the other team comes running down to take their positions. You think they are going to play man but they are running a zone defense. You adapt- change your cutting routes; move to the open spaces to get the disc on the second throw; you call for the disc which draws the defense over to you leaving your teammate open.

How are long are they playing zone for? 5 passes? To half? To their brick mark? All these questions are in your mind as you are trying to get open.

You hear the other team calling “MAN!!”, now you have to adjust again to get into position. You see an opening and you break for the endzone- there is a mismatch (some 5′ guy is on you and you’re 6′). Easy score.

As an employee, an Ultimate player is able to learn, adapt and go with what is right for the team. Quick transitions to identify what needs to be done and to overlap with their teammate are critical.

See the Big Picture

The fields at Potlatch. Renton, Washington
The fields at Potlatch. Blaine, Washington

The field is 70 metres long, 40 metres wide with two 25 metre end zones. That is the size of the field but it isn’t the size of the playing surface. The disc can travel out of bounds but come back in, soar 20 metres up into the sky or straight into the dirt. But Ultimate players always see the big picture- that it’s just a game and that no matter who wins they know they gave their all

As an employee, an Ultimate player wants to know what the end goal is with their employer. They will strive to make themselves part of the team that as been assembled to reach the team’s goal and they will do their part.

 

Quick thinking

Your man is strikiPotlatch2008_071ng long (ie running to the end zone) and you are 3 steps behind. You call “SWITCH!” as your teammate is between your man and the end zone. He picks him up and you get his man who is going under (towards the disc)It all happens in an instance and it goes unnoticed to the rest of the team as it was so natural.

The other team has the disc near their end zone, the throw goes up and you make the dee and the disc is sailing out of bounds. You dive out and grab the disc, spin and throw it back into the playing field for a team mate to catch it in the end zone. CALLAHAN!

Ultimate players train hard to make every decision seem like it is natural to them. To adapt on the fly, to read the defense or the other team’s offense and to recognize what the elements are and how to adapt to those as well. Throwing and catching in the wind or rain or both is much different than a nice sunny still day. Even the sun can play hell on trying to see the disc.

As an employee, an Ultimate player is always learning so that they can adjust to the situation or their environment.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution @ Potlatch.
Conflict Resolution @ Potlatch.

Disc is in the air. You and your mark (the guy defending you) are running full speed down the field to the endzone to catch or defend the disc. It’s a 1 on 1 battle and you both go up for the disc. A foul occurs as he hits your hand away just as you grab the disc. You call “Foul!” but he disagrees- he says he got all disc but there isn’t a referee to turn to as there are no refs.

You talk it over and decide that either:

Yes, you are right and that it was a foul. Your disc.

No, you don’t agree and the disc goes back to the thrower.

There was no arguing, no pushing, shoving, yelling or “your momma’s so fat” comments. Everything seems rather, civil.

As an employee, an Ultimate player brings conflict resolution to the table. He knows when he is in the wrong and will negotiate when he thinks has been wronged.

No matter what the situation, it will get resolved peacefully.

Spirit of the Game (SOTG)

Depending on the tournament, you might sing, dance, play a silly game, hug, high 5, or just shake hands. No matter what happens on the field, it should be kept on the field and non the wiser if you let whatever happened out there effect you later on. The SOTG has benefited many people as lots of players have moved from other sports that have been too aggressive or impersonal. The sport attracts players who have a good attitude and enjoy life. In all of my years of playing, I have never really met anyone that is unkind. Those players get vetted out rather early in their career.

The SOTG is in the official rule book and states:

From Section 1. Introduction, item B. “Spirit of the Game. Ultimate relies upon a spirit of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate unsportsmanlike conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as taunting opposing players, dangerous aggression, belligerent intimidation, intentional infractions, or other ‘win-at-all-costs’ behavior are contrary to the Spirit of the Game and must be avoided by all players.”

As an employee, an Ultimate player will always be respectful to your organization and will always show their good side.

Giving Back

Volunteers @ WUGC 2008
Thank you to all the volunteers that work hard. Volunteers @ WUGC 2008!!

There are a great number of people who have made this sport what it is today and what it will be tomorrow.

All the hours of volunteering spent on coaching, organizing leagues, clinics, tournaments, traveling teams and more have not been in vain. Everyone who plays Ultimate appreciates all that goes on behind the scenes even if they aren’t directly told. They all do it for the good of humanity.

What would this world be like without Ultimate?

As an employee, an Ultimate player will make the sacrifices required to improve your group. They will give all they have to ensure that not only fun happens in the office but that your office will be better than if you didn’t hire them.

So do your company a favor:

HIRE AN ULTIMATE PLAYER

These are my general thoughts about the group of people that I love and molded me to who I am today.

Next article:

Why not to hire an Ultimate player.

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Mike H.
Hi there,
I am photographer, father, son and ultimate frisbee player.
I've recently switched my career path into Mechanical Engineering.
As someone once said, "What a long, strange trip it's been."