The UP League Begins!

21 May

[Note: The first day of league (community vs community) games took place at the field in Kfar Tavor near the end of March.  For various reasons Roy’s excellent write up of the day was not posted until now.  Better late than never.  Enjoy, comment, and forward it on to your friends.]

The first set of league games was exciting for both the players and the coaches. We have spent months working with our teams trying to teach not only the specifics of the game, like rules, strategy and mechanics, but also a sense of good sportsmanship and spirit. We want to impress upon our players the importance of playing fairly, playing with integrity, and working together with players on both teams to ensure a spirited game.

Karym welcomes the players to the first inter-community games.

Teaching how to make a cut or run or play or throw a disc is sometimes difficult, but all of those things can be demonstrated visually and physically. When we teach a play, we describe how it should run, and then go through the play in slow motion or without defense or with some other simplification in order to convey the basics. As the players become more familiar and confident with the play we will speed it up, or add defenders, and run through it again, more closely simulating a real game situation. During the scrimmage at the end of a practice we encourage our players to use the new play so they can get a sense for how it will work in competition.

Going up for the Disc

However, it is much harder to display a desirable example of an intangible concept like sportsmanship. While unfair situations do arise in practice (someone calling themselves in when they are thought to have been out of bounds, someone calling a foul at a critical point during a game) we have been able to work out our issues without too much strife (at least in the communities I visit regularly).
So in our first set of league games our players had a chance to demonstrate both their athletic abilities as well as their sportsmanship and spirit. As might be expected, both sets of skills spanned the range from “excellent” to “needs improvement”.

Adeem (Daburia) shows off her forehand

Our approach to coaching the games was to help encourage everyone to play, to be supportive, and to provide minimal direction from the sidelines (“form a stack”, “don’t run quite so deep”, “look for your dump”). When it came to on-field discussions about fouls or other disagreements, we tried to let the players resolve their conflicts on their own, and for the most part this worked. However, there were two distinct times towards the end of the day that we had to step in.

Both instances played out similarly. At first one player had an issue with a member of the other team (a travel call, an out of bounds call). The member of the other team refuted the issue, and quickly the situation escalated to the entirety of both teams being involved in the dispute, each yelling at the other, each bringing up past grievances that had been overlooked in the name of sportsmanship, and each looking to a coach to resolve the issue. It’s hard for a coach not to get involved when being swarmed by 12 to 18 fired up young players looking for justice.

Tamra posses while Zolo lays out

As much as the players weren’t initially pleased with the approach, we spent quite a bit of time calming everyone down, bringing both teams together in the middle of the field, and reviewing the process for resolving conflicts. Once the teams had time to breathe and the two players directly involved in the dispute could be isolated from their peers, we were able to get them to have a straightforward discussion about what had happened and what should happen next as a result. Most of the players know the rules and understand the conflict resolution process, so once we got to that point, they pretty quickly came to a resolution.

Working things out

This is the type of situation we don’t typically see in practice, and working through it in a real game is invaluable experience for our players. We hope that through these games together they will not only improve their playing skills, but also their sportsmanship skills. We hope they will begin to resist the urge to escalate these types of situations, that they will be able to calm themselves when situations do escalate, and that they will look less frequently to outside authority figures for rulings on the field.
Mentor Coach

One Response to “The UP League Begins!”


  1. Two New Ultimate Peace Blog Posts | Ultimate Josh - May 22, 2012

    […] well worth checking out for lots of current UP info. Two new articles just went online yesterday: The UP League Begins! and UP Middle East League Round […]

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