Ask Anna: Problems in a League of their Own

Playing league ultimate can present some challenges.

There’s a lot more to ultimate than just the Xs and Os. While your coach or captain might be able to help you diagnose a mechanical problem with your forehand, a lot of times, you might find yourself looking for answers to social or financial questions.

To that end, welcome to a new advice column on Ultiworld: Ask Anna!

You can reach Anna at [email protected] with any questions that you have.

Q: I (cisgendered female) would love to play 4/3 next year, but the league I play in keeps telling me there aren’t enough women to make that possible. What argument should I make, or what are some other options?

-2 Tired Of 5/2

Good for you for asking for what you want and being open to creative solutions. I think a lot of areas are facing these problems: both demand for more equitable playing ratios and also more men than women signing up to play. I think the best approach is solution-oriented. Is there already a women’s league in your area? If not, you could start one as a way of developing playing space for women in general. If that isn’t actually in demand (some people are really into mixed!), what about pitching the league to make a mixed league and an open league to accommodate all of the men who wish to play but can’t fit onto teams with a higher number of women?

If that still isn’t in demand, what have you done to recruit more female players? Reaching out to HS/college/club teams to advertise could help: most leagues are pretty thinly staffed and would love to have the help, so taking ownership over this would probably be welcome.

If none of these options are appealing, my final and least ideal recommendation is to petition the league for a 4/3 option. If the league has the option, at least you’ll get a few points with 4/3 for next season until recruitment and other league options shift. As always, I advocate for local leadership — if you have an idea for the community, talk with the league, run for a board seat, go to the community meetings, or email the organizers to see how you can contribute. Most people will be thrilled with the support. Persist and good luck next season!

Q: I live in a fairly large city and we have multiple leagues at several skill points. I’m a high level player, and there just aren’t options for me to play at the level I enjoy. I won’t have fun playing in a league with people who aren’t that good, but I want to keep playing during the off season. Advice?

– Self Aware and Trying To Not Be A Jerk

Oh, you have lots of options. Move to Seattle. Start an invite-only high level pick up game and only bestow the golden ticket to players you deem worthy of your inside flick. Quit frisbee in a small but mighty preservation of greatness. Don’t like any of those ideas? Ok, now we can actually talk.

My basic recommendation is to decide what is more important to you: more playing time or only playing excellent ultimate. If you land on the side of more playing, let’s try to develop some silver linings. Playing league gives you a chance to get touches while also improving your coaching abilities — you can be a captain or help players on your team develop skills. You might find a few other unexpected and unknown gems — not all talented players play club, and league is often the port of entry for people when they move to a new city. You can recruit!

I also think this could be an opportunity for you to stretch and expand your scale for what fun ultimate is – focusing on something other than the highest possible level of achievement and practicing dealing with frustration are things that will likely continue to serve you in your ultimate career. But like I said, there’s always Seattle.

Q: Please litigate: I, a woman, was chasing down a disc during fall league and a man was covering me pretty aggressively. I yelled at him to not truck me. He backed off a little and I caught the disc (I would have anyway, if it matters). He talked to me afterwards and said he was offended and thought it was poor spirit of me to say something like that in the middle of a play. I hear his position, but in that moment, I really was scared of getting wrecked.

– Living In Fear Of Trucks

While I have sympathy for you, I think you’re in the wrong here. I wish I had a better course of action for you in the moment when you’re scared of injury due to the physicality of another player other than being heads up and maintaining responsibility for your own safety to the extent possible. It’s just pretty poor spirit to essentially yell at someone to stop playing defense – it maybe isn’t explicitly in the rules, but it isn’t a good show of offensive tact: it’s a crude distraction.

If you’re really scared or actually in danger, let them get the D. Who cares – it’s league. In that case, I would talk to them after and see what their decision-making process was like. Maybe they were being safe, and maybe they weren’t, but it’s worth talking through it with them. If there’s a pattern of dangerous play, escalate it to your captains/league officials to get some guidance and request communication to specific problem players.

Email your questions to [email protected].

  1. Anna

    Anna is Ultiworld's advice columnist. She is a long-time ultimate player that's navigated college, club, and league competition (and social scenes). You can reach her at [email protected].


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