Picking up the disc

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Turnover in the middle of the field. Player A is now on offence and runs to pick up the disc. As he is bending over, but before he touches it, he hears his teammate yell run through, so he stands up and bolts for the endzone. The team on defence yells that he has faked picking up the disc, and thus must come back to take possession, as his marker had stopped to mark the disc. He says it was deceptive and allowed Player A to become free in the endzone.

I was on the team that was now on defence. A player from the other team and I had this conversation:

Me: I don't think it's a rule that he has to touch the disc because he bent over. He never touched it, and thus never had possession.
Him: It's a rule.
Me: Which one?
Him: It's a rule.
Me: I heard you the first time. I asked which one.
Him: I don't know exactly.
Me: Just because you say it's a rule, doesn't make it one. I'm not asking for the exact section or article, but I would like to know the wording.
Him: It's a rule.

To me, the funniest part of the conversation, was we were both advocating for the other team. I reread the Handbook today, and I can't find anywhere in it where what their player did was against a rule. Would someone be able to clarify either way? Thanks.

That's a made-up rule being argued by somebody who cares more about calling rules than
knowing rules.

It's unfortunately common for people to make the 'Hey! I don't like what just happened, I'm
going to call something!" Call, even (especially) when nothing illegal happened.

Really, there's no rule even close to the one being argued.

Even had the player touched the disc, he would not have had possession of it and he certainly
wouldn't have had to become the Thrower. If he had 'sustained control" of it, in this case, if
he had gripped the disc, then he would have had possession and would have been the
Thrower. After he had possession, if he were to then drop or place the disc on the ground,
then it would have been a turn over.


The player's motivation based on your description (which may have nothing to do with what
Actually Happened, and that's ok) seems to be that 'faking to get open is against the rules'.

As a matter of fact, being sneaky, tricking your opponent into thinking you're doing one thing,
while you're actually doing another (especially by using your body movement) is at the very
essence of Ultimate.

Now that we're reminded that faking and being sneaky is a key part of ultimate, we won't
even bother to go into the myriad ways in which Player A's actions might have been a
genuine change of mind and not sneaky at all.

The D *assumed* that Player A was going to pick up the disc. That bad assumption does not
absolve them of their job of guarding the open people in the end zone. I'd guess that it was
embarrassment over making such a Defensive error, which lead to the fictional call.

Unfortunately, there's no real recourse for when somebody is inventing rules and calling them.
You can turn the other cheek or walk off the field. There's not much else you can do.

Arguing about it is entirely pointless. Any discussion beyond a few seconds to clarify what is
being called and why is not supported by the rules. The rules say disagreement->BTT, not
disagreement->argument->BTT (note the end result is always the same).

Sometimes offering a wager where the other player can name the stakes can reveal their true
level of confidence, but this is most often counter-productive to restarting with BTT. If the
player wishes to continue the discussion after the point, you may have the chance to win

So, if I understand correctly, your teammates had made the erroneous call, and this fellow was advocating on behalf of your teammates?

Well, in his defense, he must have genuinely thought it was a rule if he was siding with your team, and clearly, he was not the only one around to think so.

This is another one of those myths that propagate by either hearsay or force of habit; it has been awhile since I heard it last, but it goes around.


Correct. My teammate said he couldn't fake and run. I said he was allowed. A guy on the other team agreed with my team and pretty much no one agreed with me. We had a short discussion, agreed to disagree and went on with it. I wasn't on the field at the time, so I figured it wasn't my place to disrupt the game even further.

Two years ago in Calgary someone called this rule on me, when they thought I had bent over to fake picking up the disc. At the time, I wasn't even faking, I was just running through, but the other team wanted a foul called on me. We debated on the field for a bit and I said there was no rule preventing me from doing what they said and even if there was, I didn't do what they said I did. After the point I pulled out the rule book and said I would give them the point if they could find anywhere in the rule book where it proved them correct. It obviously did not happen.

I liken this call to 'check feet', or 'you can't contest that' with many people believing it to be true, and if enough people say it's a rule, it must be a rule. I'm drawing a blank on the other myths, but I'll remember them as soon as I see it in a game.

More statements that demonstrate both a serious lack of knowledge of the rules and an
eagerness to make Calls anyway:

"I'm in on that cone."

"It's his call"

"But I was going for the disc."

"You've got three steps."

"You have to throw from your knees."

"You can't stick your arms out."

I have another scenerio that I can't seem to find in the rules.

Pass goes out of bounds to the back of the endzone therefore a turn over happens. Whoever picks up the disc (offense) and brings it to the endzone line has to be the one to put it in play at the endzone line or is there anywhere between bringing it in bounds and the endzone line they can hand it to someone that will put the disc into play? I hope that makes sense.

I think the short answer to your question is simply rule XIII.A.1: "If an offensive player picks up the disc, that player must put it into play."

That of course begs the question: "what if the D (or a spectator) throws/hands the disc to a
player on O?"

Common sense and strict interpretation of the rules both agree that that player does not have to
put the disc into play.

It would be silly to have to quickly hold your hands behind your back if somebody was just being
nice to you. Likewise, it would be silly if our rules allowed the D to throw the disc to the weakest
handler on the O and force them to play it out of a sideline trap.

Fortunately neither are the case.

To expand on Temple's argument, defensive players are not allowed to pick up a disc, so they
would have to commit a violation to force a weak thrower to take possession. I don't recall (and
am too lazy to look it up) if there is a similar restriction on non-players.

Super interesting, Gin-Boh, I didn't realize that D wasn't allowed to pick up the disc. If I'm striking long and the disc is overthrown and goes OB, and I'm the only player near the disc, I nearly *always* pick it up and either give it the O player who is coming to meet me, or else bring it up to the goal line and drop it for the other team.

Just assumed it was common courtesy, and frankly it always irked me off when other teams would miss a long disc OB, and be the only player near the disc, but turn and walk away from it and hence leave it for one of our players to run all the way back into the end zone and pick it up, in turn delaying the game.

Turns out I was wrong to be bugged by that. Good to know!

Hey Rolly,

Although I've never heard this particular violation call to date, it is worth remembering that "the team whose player is in possession, or whose players may pick up the disc, is considered the team in possession" (II.O.4).

A lot of people do consider fetching the disc for someone else to be a gesture of courtesy, as you've said. On the other hand, there are many people like myself who find it rather annoying. That is, when the defense picks up the disc out of courtesy, they are influencing the timing of the offense -- either speeding it up or slowing it down. On offense, I would prefer to have control over this myself, within the constraints set by the rules. We may want to use up our time, or we may want to sprint over ourselves.

Furthermore, when a defender puts himself out of position to go fetch me a disc, it makes me feel like a jerk for wanting to make a quick throw to the open receiver.

Now, I don't want to drive a stake through the heart of courtesy and respect, so if you want to lend a helping hand, go ahead by all means. Just please make sure that the other team actually wants you to pick up the disc first -- there will probably be times that they do.

Sometimes it irks me (just a tiny bit) when the D does help with the disc. It reduces the amount
of time my team has to wander down closer to the hucked disc, and more importantly to this old
and slow player, gives me less time to catch my breath.

The intent is always to be courteous, so I never really get bothered, but sometimes I prefer the
break. On the other hand, sometimes I do prefer when the D helps out.

Rolly, I wouldn't suggest you stop retrieving the disc for others. If they ask you to stop, by all
means stop, but doing just about anything on the field with the purpose of being courteous and
friendly is OK in my book (except calling foul on yourself! Say "I fouled you, you should call it"

It is good you realize that they may have other motivations to not retrieving the disc (ie: the
rules say they shouldn't). Also, it's possible they have other valid reasons too, tired and need a
break, want to go get set up on D, etc.

I almost always want to get the disc myself, for similar reasons mentioned above.

Also, sometimes the defender will go to grab the disc (to help), what happens when their check doesn't actually want the disc, and rather want another handler to take it? And what if that handler would rather have made the throw to me from the sideline, instead of at the end-zone line? Especially since I'm open and in the center of the field because my defender is retrieving the disc?

Even further, what does the defender do with disc-in-hand when they find their check striking for the other end of the field and another handler/defender pair approaching to take possession of the disc?

On a turnover, when I'm the [new] offense... I'll time my first cut to coincide with when the handler arrives at the line and puts the disc into play. When the defense retrieves the disc, it's often more difficult to make this work right, and so in some cases, the defense is actually hurting the offense by helping.

Similarly, and on a tangent if I may, it's also frustrating (and tiring) to start my first cut, awesomely timed btw, only to see the handler standing there waiting for the defense to be ready and check the disc before looking me off (because they waited to long to think about throwing)... please don't check the disc in after a turnover, that's not what you're supposed to do.

My suggestion is for defenders to not help with the retrieval. If you DO think it may be welcome, first ask, "would you like me to get the disc for you?".


Just got this from the previous post on the top 10 mythes of Ulti:

Myth #6 - If a player leans/stands over a disc, they must play it.
AKA: "Once you start the motion, you must pick it up!"
If the disc is live, and a player begins the motion of picking up a disc, they
are free to change their mind.

What is the source of this myth? There are certain situations where a player
must maintain or regain possession of the disc. If a disc is thrown out of
bounds and an offensive player retrieves it, that player must put the disc in
play - they cannot just put it down on the line and run away. Also, if a player
calls a time-out, that same player must put the disc back into play.
In fact, many players will bend over to pick up a disc and then be told to
"run-through" by their slow-footed handlers who are trailing behind the play.
This is fine. Also, some cutters like to slow down at the disc as a kind of
"fake", and then make a cut - this is also fine.

SITUATION: A cutter stops at the disc, leans down, and then darts into the
corner of the endzone. A teammate picks up the disc, and hits them in the
endzone. Point.

Thanks for the insight, everyone. Much appreciated.