Throwing and Catching in Ultimate Frisbee – The Basics

If you know the basics of Ultimate, you already know that this team sport is easy to pick up. However, to play the game you need to practice two key skills: throwing and catching. Learning is not difficult. You’ll need: a frisbee and someone to teach you the basics. What throws and catches are the absolute basic skills to master in Ultimate?

Types Of Throws

Many people worry at the beginning that they can’t play the sport because they don’t know how to throw the disc. In most cases, some of them already know one of the basic throws! At the beginning, you need to know just three throws. There’re no shortcuts, so make sure to practice as often as you can.

The Backhand

It’s the throw that pretty much everyone knows. At first, it may seem like the easiest one to master as it’s the most natural way to throw a disc. It’s very commonly used as it’s the easiest way to make a short but fast pass to another player. It also works great for medium-range and long-range passes.

How to throw backhands? The first step is to establish if you’re right or left-handed. Then, while holding the disc, place your thumb on the topside and the remaining four fingers on the inner side. Stand straight and then move your body to a forty-five-degree angle to make the throw. Bend your wrist and elbow so it’s in front of the disc and then in a one, steady motion throw the disc in the desired direction. The key in doing it correctly is to bend and snap your wrist to add the spin. Make sure that the frisbee is parallel to the ground.

The Forehand

This throw takes some practice and commitment. It’s the most efficient throw in Ultimate – doesn’t take much energy and it takes seconds…or rather milliseconds to throw. It’s perfect for middle and long-range throws and usually looks spectacular! Don’t give up too easily – it takes some time before you master it. Make sure to practice as often as you can.

First, you need a good grip on a disc. The easiest way is to hold your hand in a gun-like manner. Next, grip the disc on the top side of the disc. The middle and index fingers should be on the underside of a disc, along the rim. To throw you need to extend your arm away from the body, pull the wrist back and snap it forward with your arm following the motion. Just like in backhand, the disc needs to be parallel to the ground. In order to make it work, remember to put the spin on the disc.

The Hammer

Among the three of these throws, this one is the most advanced. When you master the first two, it’s time to learn how to throw a hammer. At first, it might be hard to control the trajectory of the throw, so make sure to practice somewhere with a lot of space. My first hammer hit someone in the head, so remember to have some space. 🙂

To throw the hammer, you need to grip it just like you would in a forehand. The difference is that you don’t hold it parallel to the ground. Instead, you should hold it slightly above your hand in an angled position. To throw it, snap your wrist downwards with your arm following through the motion.

Tips on Throwing

Ultimate requires developing some technical skills. Throwing to a moving person at their top speed is far more complicated than to someone standing in one place. That’s why you should practice as often as possible.

Remember to keep the disc parallel to the ground and add spin as you throw. That’s where the power of the throw comes from! For beginners, it’s often easier to learn indoors as there’re no additional factors to consider, such as the wind.

Take small steps. Don’t make it a goal to throw across the field right away. Make achievable goals and extend them as you improve. Ask your teammates to help you out and don’t get frustrated if they give you tips. They only mean to help.

Of course, the easiest way to learn how to throw it to go out there and do it! Just mind the wind! 🙂

Types Of Catches

Catching is the skill as important as throwing. If you drop it there’s a turnover. There are three basics ways to catch the discs. While none of these requires you to make layouts or skys, it’s important to master them. At first, it may seem a bit hard and you’ll have a lot of drops, but with time you’ll be able to tell where the frisbee will fly and what’s the best way to catch it.

Pancake catch

Pancake catch

The pancake catch (or crocodile, as we call it on our team :D) is the safest and sure type of catch. That’s what you should want to do most of the time – especially as the beginner player. It’s best suited for the waist and chin level throws. You should try to get your body in front of the disc for additional security. To catch the frisbee you need to anticipate the trajectory of the disc. Once you are close to it, make a clapping motion vertically and trap the disc. Sometimes by putting too much pressure you might cause the disc to fall out of your hands. 

Two handed catch

It’s best used for the below the waist and above the chin throws. It might seem a bit challenging at first, but it’s easy to master. This type of catch is also a bit faster than the pancake. Sometimes it can be very helpful – you might snatch the disc before your marker does. To catch a disc you need
to grip it with your thumbs on the inner side of the frisbee and the rest of your fingers on the top of the frisbee.

Two handed catch

One handed catch

This kind of catch might be considered as advanced. The beginner players are advised to do a one handed catch only if necessary. It should be used only when you catch the disc with both hands. The situations could be high throws, low throws and throws behind you.

Tips on Catching

A disc is catchable until it hits the ground, so don’t give up too early! During the game or practice, make sure that you keep an eye on the disc until you catch it. That way you’ll know where is the disc. You’ll possibly avoid getting hit on the head. 😉

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