Daylight Saving Ends
North America
March 8, 2016

Start a Pickup Game

Q: How do i start an Ultimate Frisbee pickup game in my area?

A: 10 steps to starting an Ultimate pickup game

Congratulations for wanting to start an Ultimate game. It is the first step to admitting you have an addiction to flying plastic. These general guidelines will help you start a simple pickup game, as well as a larger, year-round game, on beach or grass. Pick and choose what tips work for you. Your mileage may vary, depending on your city, state, country, hemisphere as well as your personal temperament.

1) Pick a day, time and field

  • Weekday or weekend game? A morning, lunch or evening game?
  • Early games can be played year-round without issue of daylight.
  • Late games are usually played roughly from March – October? If you want to continue to play during the Winter months, you can start play earlier, find a lighted field, or move indoors. (Winter months vary depending on your place on the globe)
  • Evening /Weekend games have challenges depending on the season due to sporting events (soccer), picnics, festivals, even rain. For these reasons, it is a good idea to scope out an alternate field  just in case.
  • Grass fields: great to play on, layout on, and stretch out on after a great afternoon of disc…it is ultimate in its purest setting however, come rainy season, grass fields get sloppy, muddy and usually get closed until  conditions improve.
  • Turf fields: Turf fields can be played on year-round. Turf’s all-weather quality does not make it the best surface to layout on, but if you have a low co-pay have at it. Many turf fields also have lights so you can thumb your nose at the darker winter months. Some posted games have a summer (grass) field and then shift to a winter (turf) field for lights or rain friendliness.
  • Alternate field(s): pre-planning an alternate field or two, just in case of scheduling conflicts or wet field closure can make you look like a hero and keeps the game on track. During the rainy season have your city’s rain hotline on speed dial, so you can quickly get field updates. Over the years you will come to know the yearly events that happen and require you to move to your alternate field.
  • Permit? Does the city require a permit to play? or do you go “bandit”and simply show up and start playing?
  • Got Cones? Don’t forget cones to mark the field, but you can use shirts, shoes and discs equally well.

2) Communication

  • (Strongly Suggested) Maximize your efforts by starting a group page: (e.g. yahoo group, google group, google+facebook, meetup, sportsvite,or a website) so you can begin attracting like-minded people to the group via google searches, it also gives you the ability to provide game updates, polls, and solicit game RSVPs.
  • Post key contact(s) information, email and/or phone so players can contact you.
  • Last minute changes to the game…put the word out quick. e.g. game cancelled, field closure, game moved to an alternate field location…be helpful and respectful and get the word! Having players looking for a game that has been moved or cancelled is a BuzzKill!!
  • Show players exactly where the game is: provide an address, directions, a map, and any landmarks to help anyone find your game. Vagueness is a BuzzKill!
  • If this is too much info, too soon…Grow your game slowly by building a simple group-list and begin by emailing a small group of fellow players directly.

3) Identity

  • Give your game a name, make it memorable (e.g. Yucca Valley Ultimate or “YUC” Yamslam, MoHuck, Hammatime, Rocket Sauce, Milkshake Beavers, PennUltimate, or any other cool name) have fun. Need creative help in finding a name?
  • Give your game a face. If you’re motivated… design a logo for your group. Here is a Logo gallery to peruse for inspiration.

4) Consistency

  • Consistency of start time and field location makes life easier for everyone…and it is a key step to preventing Buzz-Kill for your fellow players!
  • Consistency removes the guess work and helps people to plan their day around the game. If your game is in hibernation during the winter months, come Spring, consistency makes it is easier to resume the same schedule.
  • Consistent communication to your group is also important. A Facebook page without any posts for months gives the impression that your group and game is DOA..dead on arrival.  Stay connected to your group during the slow winter months when your game is in hibernation, post a weekly or monthly comment to keep your game top-of-mind. (suggestions: countdown to when daylight savings ends (or the coming thaw), vote on a new field or alternate field location, or plan a skills clinic,  discuss rule nuances, plan a hat tournament, etc.).
  • Inconsistency in field location, start time or communication can make it difficult for your game to gain traction with players.

5) Passion: It will rub off on others and people will want to be apart of that energy.

  • “Who’s Down for Ultimate?!” Sending consistent game reminders will do the trick…but make the message upbeat, you’re not an Undertaker inviting people to a funeral. You dont need to be Rah Rah..but being upbeat is a start.
  • Even the most established game takes someone(s) to maintain the group’s energy.

6) Creativity: There may be many a game day where only a few people attend. Don’t cancel the game…show and throw, play Goalimate, Durango Boot, or do drills. Anything that gets the disc in the air and your interested players showing up.

7) Broadcast:  Get the word out. Share your game listing with the ultimate community! There are many a wayward ultimate player in search of a game and new blood can make your game stronger.

8) Delegate: Ask for assistance. If you have players willing to share in any aspect of the game planning, e.g. emailing, answering questions, bringing cones, building the Facebook page…etc, take advantage of the help. It will make your job easier.

9) Patience: Game attendance will ebb and flow as you begin to grow your player base. Patience goes with consistency. Over time, if there are Ultimate-starved players in your area they will begin to consistently show.

10) Have fun…don’t stress….rinse and repeat.

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