"A Dump is a Beautiful Thing"

In the game of ultimate one must weight advancing the disc upfield against the risk involved in making that advancement. For instance, if a thrower has the choice between a pass to a guarded receiver 20 yards upfield and an open receiver 5 yards upfield the best choice is the 5 yard completion. This is obvious. The point that seems to take upwards of a couple years to pound into new players is that if the choice is between a 50/50 throw (ie a throw that has equal chances of being complete or a turnover) and a throw that you will complete but lose upwards of 10 yards the choice is to throw the dump. Take the loss but keep the disc possession. Further, this is true from goal line to goal line. It doesn't matter if the 50/50 throw is for a score, take the dump.

Why? Let me tell you a little story of a handler and mid. Let's call the handler "Tom" and the mid "Olen", just to pick a couple random names out of a hat. Tom is an experienced handler and will complete his pass a majority of the time. He makes good decisions based on years of playing the handler position. He rarely forces a toss and so it is ideal that he have the disc in a scoring position. Olen is a fantastic mid. He times the continuation cut well and rarely drops the disc if the throw is on target. In fact, even when the pass is off target he tends to run it down and haul it in. If you get near the goal line you would like him to be the guy you go to. Now, picture that Tom has the disc about 30 yards from the score. He completes a pass to Olen at around the 5 yard line about 5 yards from the side line. Olens defender quickly throws on a hard mark forcing Olen to have very little room to get the pass off. Olen spies a cut swirling in the endzone and in the excitement of the moment tries to fire the throw into the receiver. Well, sad but true the pass is not completed. What Olen should have done was look for the wide open throw. If that wasn't there then he should turn and throw the dump pass. By this time Tom is most likely closing in behind Olen to provide a nice easy throw for him back up the line. The mark is feverishly trying to prevent the score so the backwards pass is uncontested. Now what is the situation? Tom has the disc about 10 yards from the score - a net gain of 20 yards from where he had the disc before. Olen is in a one-on-one situation very near the goal line. With the disc in Toms hands and Olen working for the score there is a much better chance of success. Hurrah.

So, when near the endzone -- especially when near the endzone -- look for something you know you can complete. If it isnt there then look for the dump. It's beautiful, really. Scores are not easy in ultimate so treasure every opportunity you get in each game. Forcing a throw and getting the score is luck. Good luck. Look at your life and try to think if "good luck" outweighs "bad luck". It doesnt for me and so I play the odds. Make the catch. Look for the "automatic score" and then if it isnt there dump away. Hey, you may end up catching the score and that's just as fun. In fact when the handler is running up behind you they will often yell "dump and go." This tells you that the handler is not going to run into the endzone but instead expects the dump and for you to run in for the score.

Another way to look at it is this. If you turn the disc over when your team felt they were going to score it will suck the life out of them and the defense will be terrible right after that. If your team isnt very focused lost opportunities often turn into quick scores for the other team.

Who should throw the dump? Everyone should be willing and able to throw the dump pass. If you are a handler then you can wait for a higher count before throwing the dump. As a handler you shuold be calmer and less effected by the pressure so dumping later wont harm. Plus, as a handler you are the one that is expected to make the good upfield passes so holding longer to see if you can find one is perfectly allright. If you are a mid then look to dump earlier. Once you catch the disc there may be few options open to you since there may only be the other mid and two deeps down field. If something is open take the throw. If not and the count gets to 5 look for the dump and clear out of there. Now, if you are a deep then look to dump as soon as possible. This has less to do with your throwing ability than it has to do with field position. When you are a deep you generally catch the disc for a good gain. You also tend to catch the disc past all of the other players except for maybe one other deep. Completing a short pass to the other deep really doesnt gain you much since the rest of the team still has to run upfield to catch up to the play. As a deep you should only contiue to work the disc upfield if you have plenty of help. If not then make the catch, look for the automatic score, then turn and dump to the first handler to arrive.

How should I play for the dump? First, as you approach behind the player with the disc you should announce to the thrower "you have the dump if you need it." When I play for the dump I tend to shade toward the marked side. This is for two reasons. First, if the dump can be thrown into that position then you are losing yards but working against the force. A minor victory but you take what you can get. Second, starting in that position the dump can cut to the force side to get open. Giving the person dumping an even easier throw is worthwhile.

Another time to throw the dump is when the disc is working its way closer and closer towards the sideline. If the opposing team is using the force well then your offense will tend to gradually get closer to the sideline they are forcing. Before you get trapped on the sideline, dump and swing. This is a standard play that helps recenter the disc in the field of play and usually results in very little lost yardage. But remember, even if some yardage is lost it is still better to get the disc to the middle where there are options and open spaces for the cutters to run. In the figure that follows notice that after the dump there is almost always a swing opportunity. If the swing is far enough then not only has the disc been centered but the mark will have been broken as well.

And that, my Ultimate friends, is that. Once you realize what the dump can do for you and your team you will realize why indeed, a dump is a beautiful thing.

enjoy the game.

tom (aka soup).