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Ultimate Frisbee 101: basics of throws and catches

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The game of Ultimate, more commonly referred to as the Frisbee, is a fast-growing competitive sport among the local college sports scene. The sport is picking up fast as ultimate competitions are springing up more often than ever, what with the WFDF 2013 Asia-Oceanic Ultimate Club Championships (AOUCC) just around the corner.

Ultimate is a team sport played with seven members. The objective of the game is to score points by catching the Frisbee while in the end zone. Going back to as earlier as 1967, Ultimate may not be an Olympic event, but the vast number of followers for the sport has proved its popularity over the years and is now officially recognized as an Olympic sport.

Ultimate is a sport that does not require much technicality, and that probably explains its popularity as a sport among busy college students. It’s a sport that is easy to pick up and proves to be a good workout. The basic get-to-know Ultimate lies in the throwing and catching techniques in the game.

Types of Throws

There are three types of throws that are mainly used in an Ultimate game; the backhand and forehand throws which are considered the basics, and the overhead throw, more commonly known as the hammer throw, which is considered to be more advanced.

The forehand requires a proper girp on the Frisbee disc before it is thrown. Fingers should be positioned in a gun-like manner with the thumb, index and middle fingers sticking out and the last two fingers closed. Grip the disc with the thumb on top and the index and middle fingers on the underside along the rim of the disc. To launch the disc, extend the disc away from the body and snap the wrist inwards, with the entire arm following through the motion of the throw. If done correctly, the disc will glide through the wind without wobbling and hit on target accurately.

To do a backhand throw, the grip along the rim of the disc should have the thumb on the topside and all four fingers resting on the underside. The body should stand out in a forty-five degree angle for the throw. Hold the disc up parallel to the ground and snap the wrist in the direction of the throw, and similar to the forehand throw, the arm has to follow through the action in order to ensure that the throw is done correctly.

The hammer should only be tried only after mastering the two basic forms of throws. As it can be difficult to control the trajectory of the disc in a hammer throw, it should only be practiced in a safe place with lots of space. The grip for the hammer is similar to that of the forehand throw, but instead of holding the disc parallel to the ground, it should be held slightly above the head and angled slightly. To launch the disc, snap the wrist downwards with the arm following through the motion of the throw.


In a game of Ultimate, there are two basic ways to catch a flying disc – the pancake and the two-hand grab. Both techniques are similar as they require both hands to execute, but the method for each is different.

The pancake catch is easily the simplest and safest catching technique in Ultimate. With the palms of both hands facing each other, anticipate the trajectory of the flying disc. Once it is within reach, secure the disc with both hands by trapping it between them. The motion is like clapping hands together, but in a vertical manner.

The two-hand grip might seem to be much more complicated but is definitely not as challenging as it may sound. With arms outstretched, anticipate the path of travel of the disc and secure it with an overhand grip along the rim, with the thumbs on the underside and the rest of the fingers on the topside of the disc. 

Nicholas See, member of the SMU Ultimate team, has been playing the sport competitively for four years. He shares some of his experience for those who are looking to join the local Ultimate community. 

“Initially the throws might be a little challenging to grasp but don’t be discouraged as it’s a small price to pay for an awesome game. Also, remember to enjoy the company when playing! The Ultimate community is really warm and it is a great place to make new friends. Lastly, don’t forget to stock up on sunblock for your first session. It will come in handy!”