Posts tagged ‘Ultimate Frisbee’

WUGC 2016 vlog

June 9, 2016 at 10:36 pm Leave a comment

Nationals

The Australian Ultimate Championships (Nationals) were held last weekend in Ballarat, Victoria. Thanks to our performance at Eastern Regionals the Wombats were in attendance. In true Jase-fashion I spent the week before in trepidation with the following concerns buzzing around in my brain:

  • Despite being a member of a masters team, this would be my first National Championships. I had previously played regionals tournaments and Div 2 Nationals for Tassie but had never been part of a team that was strong enough to qualify for Nationals. I knew this would be the best competition I had taken part in.
  • My hamstring issue is still lingering. I had spent the last six weeks focused on rehab and recovery, as opposed to building and improving my fitness. Nationals is a four-day tournament and I wasn’t sure my fitness was up to scratch in terms of the length of the tournament or the level of competition.
  • The game-schedule had flagged our team as playing in the showcase game on Friday night. We would we have a live crowd watching the game and also cameras on site to record and stream the game live for people at home.

If I’m honest, the pressure of the showcase game was the issue my brain decided to latch onto and worry about the most. I felt significant pressure knowing that we were going to the focus of so many people whilst playing! I recognised that this was going to be great experience for Worlds, but I was still stressing about it regularly.

Results

After 8 games across the tournament The Wombats came out in 13th place. As a team this isn’t the result we wanted and we were disappointed. Initially we had a tough pool in which we finished third out of four. Some tough games in the crossovers and a close game against Sublime that didn’t go our way saw us dropping out of contention for placings more in line with our expectations. You can see the full results here.

So we have some work to do. There’s some thoughts and analysis going into where we need to improve and I’m sure we’ll see some results and actions at our upcoming Training Camp.

For me…

After a few days of reflection my personal thoughts around the tournament are as follows:

As a D-line receiver it can be tough to get on the field

We’ve got a fairly large D-line, which is necessary. However if you’re not getting breaks and winning points the D-line’s opportunity to get on the field can be minimal. As soon as we score all the D-line players are pumped to get on the field so there’s a bit of competition to get on the line. There’s a fine line between asserting yourself and being a good team mate.

In addition, if your D-line isn’t getting on the field regularly then it is likely that, when the opportunity comes, it is a crucial point in the game. The composition of the line can be quite selective in order to maintain momentum.

I had some mental low-points in the tournament

Most notably, in our game against Sublime, I made a couple of mistakes early on which contributed to scores for Sublime. Initially there was a deep cut that I should have covered and then a few points later I stuffed up the force during a transition which resulted in some easy flow and a score.

In isolation these aren’t huge issues but I want to perform better. I started feeling negative about my ability to assist the team and relegated myself to the sideline for the rest of the game. When it is already difficult to get onto the field (see previous point) its quite easy to let others take your spot if you’re not feeling positive.

In hindsight I recognise that a large part of the issue was the closeness of the match. I had a similar experience at SMO in a tight game. I’ll need to reflect on this further to decide how to handle it.

Despite these issues, I played well.

I believe I made a positive impact for the team in pretty much all the points I played. I was largely successful in fulfilling my role on defense (my player rarely got the disc). When we got a turn I was able to generate options or create space for others to do the same.

More specifically, I feel like I further settled into my role as a defensive receiver. I started to operate in line with the team’s expectations and achieved the desired results. I also eliminated some of the behaviors I’ve had feedback on throughout the campaign. I didn’t take risky options with the disc and can only remember one throwaway.

This is quite a satisfying result, particularly when the areas I needed to improve on were largely mental improvements which I’ve had little game-time opportunity to work through.

I  also feel like I’ve made a notable improvement to my throwing over the last 6 weeks. Thanks to my throwing buddies Rob and Leo for facilitating multiple times per week in the dark!

I want more!

Whilst I am feeling more settled in my role I want more out of myself. I want to start excelling in the role and being a more dominant player. This is underpinned by a desire to get more field time if possible.

To that end I’m resolved to start working harder on my fitness. I got through the weekend without any issues from my hamstring. It’s a lingering niggle that is noticeable all the time, but it doesn’t seem to be preventing me from anything and isn’t getting any worse. As such I am keen to start building more fitness and speed rather than focusing on rehab. There’s going to be a lot of running in my future as we progress through the final phase of the campaign. I can’t wait to get back out there.

And in summary…

A weekend of mixed feelings. Positivity about my performance outweighed by some disappointment in the team’s result overall. We played some good ultimate, excellent at times. However we need to keep working and improving, both myself and the team, if we’re going to feel satisfied at Worlds.

Meanwhile, if you’d like to watch us in action there’s a couple of games online:

Wombats vs Mammoth – Showcase game – Pool Play

Wombats vs Krank – Final game for 13th spot

 

April 28, 2016 at 1:18 pm 1 comment

Ultimate Intelligence – Ultimate Rob!

Recently I was approached by Ultimate Rob and asked if I would like to become a contributor on his site. I was really happy to be provided with this opportunity and one of the main drivers was knowing that my thoughts on ultimate would be exposed to a broader audience – hopefully helping more people as a result.

My future ultimate-related posts will be published over at Ultimate Rob. My latest one was published recently and can be seen here:

Ultimate Intelligence – Calm under pressure

If you’re interested in ultimate-related content then Ultimate Rob is a great resource. There’s heaps of good material there already and more to come  – keep an eye on it!

As for this blog, I have a few non ultimate-related posts floating around in my head. One of them is a review of the bike I purchased recently for commuting duties. Apparently my previous review of the Tatonka Barrel bag has been useful for people judging by the traffic to that post.

June 19, 2012 at 9:26 am 2 comments

Ultimate Intelligence – How to train your mind…

All developing Ultimate players will eventually face the reality that they have a physical shortcoming that needs work in order to continue their growth as a player. For example, your long-range forehand may not be very reliable, or you may suffer from fatigue on longer points.

In any sport it is a reality that each person’s unique physical makeup will create a combination of strengths and weaknesses. Some people’s natural physical state allows them to run fast, others may be able to jump high. Training is required to develop those natural skills but also to fill in any gaps.

It is important to recognise that the same can be said for the mental attributes that a player brings to the field. A person’s upbringing and experiences in life all add up to produce their unique state of mind with far more potential for variance than the same person’s physical attributes.

For physical shortcomings there is generally a reasonably well established path for improvement. Regular throwing sessions with a focus on weaker throws, or setting up a more regular running routine, are two approaches that would work to improve the physical shortcomings mentioned above. The question then becomes, how do you train your mind?

Perhaps the same approach used for physical improvement could be used for mental improvement. My interpretation of that approach includes the following steps:

  1. Identification
  2. Measure
  3. Goals
  4. Train
  5. Measure
  6. Implement

For example, in the examples mentioned above:

Long-range forehands

  1. Identification – You’re struggling to maintain accuracy over longer distances with your forehand. Your reliability and success rate is low.
  2. Measure – Figure out how far you can throw reliably at this point.
  3. Goals – Set yourself a realistic goal. This would be how far you want to be able to throw reliably, and the time you’ll give yourself to get there.
  4. Train – Practise throwing, as often as you can. Mark out and aim for your current distance and maybe your goal distance.
  5. Measure – As you train, keep measuring to ensure you’re progressing towards your goal.
  6. Implement – After a while your confidence will grow, deservedly so. Time to throw some long-range lasers into the end-zone!

Fatigue on longer points

  1. Identification – Any point over five minutes leaves you unable to keep up with your opponent, or get away from them.
  2. Measure – Time yourself running over a reasonable distance. I find 5k is a good indication of stamina.
  3. Goals – Decide on a distance and time goal (or pace) to work towards. Give yourself a period of time to work towards that goal.
  4. Train – Go running! There’s plenty of ways to get better at running. Google can help!
  5. Measure – Continue to measure your progress against your benchmark. Watch the improvements, work towards your goals.
  6. Implement – Next time you’re on for a long point and there’s a turnover bust to the end-zone leaving your defender flat-footed!

Applying these same steps to a mental improvement can be a difficult process. We can work through it together, based loosely on my own experience with some mental shortcomings I have worked on:

1 – Identification

Identifying a mental shortcoming that is affecting your game is a really tough thing to do. However, if you observe your actions and reactions to the things that happen on the field you may start to notice a trend.

For me, I am quite capable of giving myself a hard time if I stuff something up.

The warning signs to look out for are generally any negative feelings. Am I starting to feel frustrated? Unreliable? Maybe even angry? At my worst I can convince myself that I’m better off on the sideline than on the field. You can imagine how this must make my teammates feel. I’m negatively affecting my own game and also theirs!

I feel that the key is to be on the lookout for negative emotions. If you’re not feeling positive then there’s a chance there’s some mental aspect affecting your game. As mentioned above, there’s a huge amount of scope for what the issue could be depending upon yourself as a person.

2 – Measure

Setting a baseline for a mental improvement is also a really hard thing to do. It takes some serious thought and honesty to understand that, on a bad day, 60% of your less-than-perfect throws are causing you to despair about your worth as a player (This is my own example again here!). Obviously I have no way of knowing if 60% is a real figure. For mental improvements I think it is enough to recognise that you’re doing being negatively affected more often than you would like.

3 – Goals

Goals for mental shortcomings are easy – you want to eradicate them! Realistically though, you can’t eradicate a mental shortcoming completely in the same way that you can’t throw perfect long-range forehands every time. Experiencing a noticeable improvement is a worthy goal. Keeping your cool for longer throughout a game is certainly something you can work towards.

4 – Train

Initially I thought that mental training could only really be done in-game. Upon further thought I realised that a useful attitude can be developed at all times. If you’re at a training session and your goal is to not-let-the-bad-throws-get-you-down then focus on that whilst training. Train your mind at training! Learn from your mistakes, but continue with a positive outlook.

5 – Measure

Keep yourself accountable when you’re playing. I had to get myself into a position where I could objectively analyse my own behaviour when I was stuffing things up. Was I being affected as much as in the past? Was I able to carry on and give my best performance to the team?

6 – Implement

Next time you’re at a tournament you want to be physically and mentally trained up. From a mental point of view you should be in a position where you are positively contributing to the performance of your team throughout the whole tournament.

Final Thoughts

As you may have gathered, the process of training your mind isn’t necessarily as straightforward as training a physical attribute. There are a lot more variables and less-tangible things to consider. To assist in training your mind it is worth considering enlisting a friend or teammate. If you really want to make a difference to your mental state then let someone on your team know. You will feel more accountable and, even more importantly, they will be able to let you know how you are improving.

I’ve alluded to some of the mental shortcomings I’ve dealt with in the past. After my most-recent tournament our captain commended myself (and another player) on how we have improved mentally. It was a hugely successful tournament in many ways (silver medal baby!) but receiving that feedback was certainly a highlight.

In terms of being accountable – I’ll let you all know that I’ve still got more to do. In the grand-final my mental shortcomings were starting to make themselves known. I have a few regrets, and fear that the close-game could have come out with us on top if I had maintained a better mental perspective. I definitely don’t want to let that happen again!

 

June 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm 2 comments

Ultimate Intelligence – Head to the end zone!

This is the first of a series of Ultimate Intelligence posts that I hope to write. These posts will hopefully provide some useful information that you can use to improve your game in a variety of ways. For the most part Ultimate Intelligence will be about on-field performance and may include tips regarding tactics, physical work or mental perspective.

This post will focus on an improvement that can be made from both an attitude and a tactical perspective. This isn’t necessarily an advanced tactic, any player could take these instructions on board and incorporate them into their game.

The premise of the post is that it is important to recognise that your role on the field changes when you see the disc heading into the end-zone. In particular if you are not the intended recipient of the throw (or marking the intended recipient when on defence) your job doesn’t stop as soon as the disc is heading into the end zone.

It is extremely common for players to see an attempted goal being thrown and respond by stopping what they’re doing and watching to see what happens next. This is a mistake and a simple change of perspective can improve your usefulness on the field significantly.

The benefits of this altered perspective are different depending upon whether you’re currently on offense or defence. We can take a look at each:

Offense

Imagine you’re playing on offense in the following situation:

  • One of your team mates has made a cut towards the end zone.
  • The person with the disc has identified the cut and put the disc in the air, the disc is heading towards the end zone.
  • You weren’t necessarily cutting but it is within your ability to get to the end zone at roughly the same time as the disc.

My advice is to get to the end zone as fast as you can! Definitely don’t stop to watch the play unfold. Definitely don’t wander towards the end-zone without intent. Definitely sprint disc-wards!

The reason for this course of action is to fulfil a supporting role. One of the great things about Ultimate is the “freakish” plays that occur on a semi-regular basis. People can pull of impressive things by being in the right place at the right time. Often this seems like luck or fluke but being pro-active can certainly help.

In the situation listed above there are a number of possible outcomes where it would be useful to have another offensive player around the disc:

  • The cutter’s defensive player gains position and gets a hand to the disc. They smack it away for a block but don’t catch it. The point is still winnable providing the disc hasn’t gone out of bounds. How often have you seen players scoop up the scraps of a contest for a score?
  • The intended recipient of the throw misreads the disc, or the wind picks up for a second. Again, a supporting player can clean up.
  • Depending on your speed and location on the field you might actually have a better play on the disc than the intended recipient. Communication on the field is key to making this a success however!
  • Should the cutter’s defensive player catch the disc, you are an option for pressuring the first throw after the turnover before re-locating your player and getting back to your own defensive duties.

In summary, by having a proactive and supporting attitude you can come away with some glory and increase the percentages of the intended goal coming to fruition. There’s no reason not to head to the end zone if you can get there on time. That said, two cautionary points:

  • Don’t get in the way of the intended recipient. If you do have a better play on the disc call it early. Otherwise your job is to hover around the bottom of the contest for the disc and tidy up if the disc floats free.
  • Keep an eye on the players you’re leaving behind as you cut away. If the defence is successful in preventing the score you’ll need to get back to your player on the turnover.

From a personal point of view, I’ve caught many points that weren’t intended for me by making sure I was available as support in the end zone. I have also made difficult and important blocks in games, only to have one of the offensive players follow the disc to the ground and score all the same. I will probably write a future Ultimate Intelligence post on why you should always catch the D!

Defence

Imagine you’re playing on defence in the following situation:

  • One of your opponents has cut towards the end zone, but not the player (or within the zone) that you’re marking.
  • The offensive player with the disc has recognised the cut, put the disc up, and it is heading towards the end zone.
  • Your player isn’t doing anything threatening, but it is within your ability to get to the end zone at roughly the same time as the disc.

Again – don’t hesitate, get to the end zone as quickly as you can! Similar to the offensive situation provided above, you are in a great position to be able to influence the outcome of the point. In this case you’re looking to generate a turnover.

You can effectively forget about the player you are marking temporarily. Nothing else matters aside from ensuring that the throw isn’t completed so it isn’t important what your player does, unless they also head towards the end zone in which case you want to be in front of them anyhow!

The following may occur:

  • The offensive player gets a hand to the disc but fumbles. Their defender may still be in the air or committed to a certain direction, you can step in and grab the disc.
  • Your team mate gets a hand to the disc but doesn’t catch it. The disc is falling within reach of the offensive player (or another offensive player). Again you can step in and make sure there is no score.
  • As an offensive player, it is more psychologically intimidating if there are several defenders around you influencing the outcome. Mistakes happen under pressure, you’re providing pressure!
  • You may get to the disc in a more direct path than the intended players, stopping the disc from even making the target.
  • Your team may get the turnover, you will be in a great position as a free-player to start the disc moving back up the field in a quick manner.

Essentially the flip-side of the offensive advantages apply on defensive. You provide more pressure and more likelihood of a turnover by being available as a supporting defensive player in the end zone.

I recall a point where a good long-cut was made to the end zone by an opponent, closely followed by my teammate. Everyone else on the field stopped flat-footed to see the outcome. It was going to be an impressive contest, involving two of the better players on the field. My teammate was able to out jump our opponent however it wasn’t a clean block and the disc started tumbling straight down. The offensive player landed with his eyes on the disc and immediately attempted a layout grab as the disc fell in front of him. Lucky for our team, I had followed the disc into the end zone and quickly pushed it out of his reach whilst it was falling. I saved us a point. It wasn’t particularly glorious or impressive, but a simple proactive run saved a point.

One final point to make is that, on defence, you can be pro active when the disc is headed towards the end zone even if you are nowhere close enough to make a play. Don’t assume that the throw will be successful. There’s always a chance of a turnover until the disc has stopped spinning in the offensive player’s hands. Watch for the result, but start moving towards your required position as soon as you’ve seen the disc flying towards the end zone. Your offensive play positions can be setup and ready to go early!

I would also like to credit a Tassie player who drove these points home for me whilst I was playing one night. I was watching the disc fly into the end zone from not too far away when Mike Baker yelled at me from the sidelines to run it down. It was a bit of an “Aha” moment where I thought “Why didn’t I go after that? I definitely could have made it and I definitely could have been useful”. So – thanks Mike.

Update!

Interestingly Brodie Smith released a highlight video on his Everything Ultimate YouTube channel today. Two of the plays in the video demonstrate the point of this post perfectly.

In the first play the defender tidies up an attempted block. In the second play the supporting offensive player makes the score off a throw not intended for him. The plays are next to each other in the video, starting at 1min 24 seconds in. The whole video is worth a watch though!

May 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm Leave a comment

Tournament Preparation – What to bring…

In a previous post I wrote about how to prepare for a tournament from a training and fitness point of view. Not long after publishing the post I realised that another important element of tournament preparation is making sure you bring along all the right things to get you through the tournament.

This post is about making sure everything is available to you when you need it to be. I like to know that if I need something during a game I will be able to grab it and get on with playing. I don’t want to have to fret about not having the right bit of gear for a certain weather condition, or the right food for my particular energy-levels at any given time.

By being prepared with all the right items I can focus on the important aspects that are happening on the field without having to worry about anything else.

The first consideration is a bag to put everything in. I’ve dedicated an entire post to the bag I use for Ultimate Frisbee tournaments so you can check that out here. Once you’ve got the bag sorted there’s a bunch of stuff you’ll need to put in it:

Ultimate Clothes/Accessories

Who knows what weather you will be playing in across a 2-3 day tournament? In southern Australia it is impossible to plan for any weather in particular so here’s how to cover everything:

  • Jersey/Shirt – Your team jersey!
  • Shorts – Shorts that match your jersey or whatever your team is going with.
  • Compression Shorts – Worn under your regular shorts if it isn’t cold. Quite good for your muscles over a tournament.
  • Base Layers – I like wearing a base-layer when I’m playing, one that wicks away sweat. They keep me warm when it is cold, and keep the sweat off me when it is hot. At a tournament they also help keep my jersey fresh for more than a day. They don’t have to be expensive, I use these ones from Torpedo 7. I bring one for each day of the tournament.
  • Socks – I bring heaps of socks, at least one pair for every day of the tournament and potentially 2-per day. Fresh socks are amazing mid tournament and also help prevent blisters from sliding round with sweaty feet in hot conditions.
  • Cleats/Boots – Some people have tournament-specific boots. I just have some trusty Asics that I love and wear whenever I play Ultimate
  • Cap – Helps visibility and also helps keep the sun off your face. Alternatively, if it is raining/cold it keeps your head dry and warm and stops water running down your face.
  • Sunglasses – I squint a lot in the sun so prefer to play in sunglasses if it is sunny. Some claim it is a disadvantage if my teammates can’t see where I am looking but it hasn’t seem to be too much of an issue.
  • Compression Tights – If it is really cold you’ll want some coverage on your legs. Compression tights allow you to run around with coverage without getting too hot (as opposed to some sports-oriented tights that are fleecy and generally too hot for running in).
  • Arm Warmers – Probably my most crucial bit of Ultimate kit aside from the usual stuff. I have found cycling arm warmers to be brilliant for variable weather or warming up. Your arms stay warm without adding an extra layer to your chest, which then gets hot when you run. The biggest benefit is you can just pull them off when you warm up, even mid-point. Some are water-resistant such as the Castelli Nanoflex ones that I have. I originally started using Arm Warmers for cycling but I can highly recommend them for Ultimate.
  • Beanie – If it gets really cold I will play in a beanie to keep my wears warm.
  • Underpants – I play Ultimate in briefs whereas I generally wear boxer-briefs. As a result I need to remember a pair per-day.
  • Waterproof/Windproof Jacket – On cold days you’ll want something warm to put on between points and in breaks between games.
  • Sweatbands – On hot days I like to wear a sweat band on my throwing arm. Mainly this is for wiping my face but if it is really hot it also stops sweat running down to my hand a bit.
  • Gloves – I’m not entirely sold on the idea of playing in Gloves as yet but I do currently carry a paid of the Lookfly Ultimate gloves with me and wear them occasionally. As a mini review, I wish they let you choose which hand you throw with so the other hand could have five full-fingers on the gloves rather than two useless cut-out ends.
  • Thongs – Similarly to having fresh socks, being able to take your cleats off and wander round in thongs at lunch time is amazingly good for your feet. Do it!
  • A frisbee! – You’ll need it for warm-ups and to kill time in the airport.

Food and Liquids

You need to stay hydrated and well fed throughout a tournament. This requires some preparation:

  • Drink Bottles – I bring two and have them full and on the sidelines within easy reach at all times. One is for water and one is for electrolytes/sports drinks.
  • Sports Drink – In the past I have carried a tub of Gatorade around however more recently I took a tube of Nuun tablets to a tournament. These were much more portable (smaller) and heaps easier to prepare in a drink bottle each time. I try and drink water and electrolytes equally, aiming for a bottle of each per game.
  • Gels/Energy Bars – Running all day for several days in a row saps energy. You won’t feel hungry but you’ll need fuel. I bring 2 energy bars per day but can substitute one for a banana if there are some available at the tournament (they are a bit easier to eat mid-game). I haven’t tried any Gels as yet but they’d be fine if you can find any that taste nice!
  • A bowl and Spork – Some tournaments offer dinner but require your own cutlery/crockery. I normally bring along a bowl and a spork as I’m not overly keen to eat off a frisbee.

Medical Stuff

  • Sunscreen – apply regularly and liberally. Nothing worse than having to deal with sunburn on the second day of a tournament.
  • Anti-Inflammatories – Either Voltaren or Nurofen. If you get a sprain or a twinge or an ache you can safely start taking anti-inflammatories to help you through the tournament.
  • Paracetamol – If you’re taking Voltaren and need some extra pain relief then Paracetamol can help. Nurofen has pain relief built in.
  • Sports Tape – My feet aren’t used to spending a couple of days cutting hard in lots of different directions. I can start to develop blisters after a while and sports tape can help to avoid that.
  • Ankle Brace – I’ve sprained my ankle a few times during tournaments. If it is still ok to run on a brace will help avoid doing more damage whilst you continue playing.

Feet Taped Up – Helped to avoid some impending blisters. Not sure what was going on with my bruised toes…

Regular Clothes

Generally speaking if you’re going away for a weekend tournament you won’t actually spend a lot of time wearing your regular clothes. This section is really up to personal preference and baggage allowance! Last tournament I brought what I wore on the plane plus some shorts and a spare t-shirt.

Toiletries

Whatever you would normally bring when you’re travelling – don’t forget any prescription medicines or similar. Also, don’t forget your toothbrush! I forgot mine last tournament 😦

Other general travelling stuff

The usual travelling stuff applies:

  • Phone Charger
  • Book to read
  • Chewing Gum
  • Headphones – probably one of the worst things I have forgotten.
  • Phone
  • Wallet
  • Plane Itineraries – I store mine on my phone normally.

I think that’s about it! Hopefully that’s a useful list of things to bring to a tournament, along with some tips for a few things you may not have considered.

How about you? Is there anything missing on my list that you would bring? Any pro items that I’m missing?

May 14, 2012 at 10:21 pm 6 comments

Ultimate Frisbee – Bag Review – Tatonka Barrel

I recently went through the process of researching and purchasing a bag to use when attending Ultimate Frisbee tournaments. In some ways this process was relatively straightforward as I had seen several good examples already at previous tournaments. I had also talked to a few people about their choices.

That said, I like to check things out myself so I started looking into it with the following considerations in mind:

Requirements

Size

The bag needed to be big enough to fit everything for a 2-3 day tournament, but small enough to get away with using it as carry-on luggage on domestic flights. I also wanted to use the bag as my regular league-bag when I am not attending tournaments so I didn’t want it to be too huge. Keeping in mind that there’s a fair bit of stuff to bring along for a tournament, getting the right size was not straightforward.

Comfort

There’s a good chance that there’s some walking involved when you’re travelling for a weekend. Even walking through the airport can be a bit of a trek. As a result it is necessary to have a bag that is easy to carry for a while without getting too uncomfortable.

Weatherproof

If you’re playing in an Ultimate tournament there is going to be some point where you’re on the field in the middle of the point and it starts raining. Your bag will be on the sideline and, unless it is weatherproof, everything inside it will get soaking wet. This is far from ideal and I didn’t want to have to worry about all my gear when I’m in the middle of a game. As a result, I wanted a weatherproof bag that wouldn’t let the rain in.

Options

I was already fairly certain that I wanted a barrel/duffel-type bag after seeing the bags that others had been using. I did consider a more traditional backpack however I was put off by the general design whereby you have to stack gear from the bottom up, and access things through a smallish opening at the top. I suppose “accessibility” could have been another requirement as I do like being to quickly grab something (such as a sweat band or energy bar) out of my bag between points if required.

In particular I was aware that several manufacturers make weatherproof duffles that also have conversion straps that allow the bag to be carried like a backpack. All of these manufacturers also offerred the duffels in a variety of sizes allowing me to choose one that was small enough to take on a plane as carry-on, but big enough to fit everything required for a tournament.

In particular there are options from  Mountain DesignsThe North Face and Tatonka.

After hunting around online I settled on the Small Tatonka Barrel in yellow for the following reasons:

  • I was able to check these bags out in person at a shop in town so I could confirm the sizes were right.
  • I found a great online price from Bagworld, including free shipping!
  • The yellow would be visible in a group of bags or on a carousel at the airport if I ever checked it in.
  • A few friends had recommended them.
  • They were available for a good price in Australia, instead of having to buy from overseas and pay more for shipping.
  • The bag is specifically approved for carry-on with Qantas.

The Tatonka Barrel in a Small size – it isn’t very full at the moment.

That said, all of the bags were pretty close in terms of price and features. The only other notable aspect is that The North Face offer a much broader range of colours (and the yellow is nicer too dammit).

Result

I have used the bag for a while now, both as my main bag for all my frisbee gear as I play league and also for a 2 day tournament in Melbourne. Overall I am very happy as the bag has met all my requirements above.

My only criticism of the bag is that it could benefit from some more pockets. Inside the bag there is a narrow pocket at each however these can’t be fastened shut. As a result it is hard to successfully store stuff in those pockets without it falling out when you use the bag in “backpack mode”.

The interior compartment at one end. Things can fall out when the bag is vertical.

Aside from those two pockets there is also a zippered pocket in the lid of the bag. Given this is the only secure separate pocket from the main compartment I ended up putting more stuff in here than I would have liked. Anything small ended up in here like keys, phone, sweat bands, a fork, chewing gum, energy bars and other things such as tickets and boarding passes. Overall it was good to have those things separate from the main compartment but there were too many things in there which made using the pocket a bit inconvenient.

The pocket in the flap is full of sweat bands, a beanie and any other random small items.

The bag does also has an exterior pocket that is designed to house the backpack straps when you want to hide them away. Whilst not ideal, I ended up using this pocket for a few things, like sunscreen, just to get them separated from everything else. You can’t shut this pocket when the backpack straps are out, and if they’re in then the pocket is full. As a result you wouldn’t want to have things stored in that pocket when it is raining as you would want the whole bag zipped up tightly.

This is where the straps go when you want to fold them away.

The other consideration when using a bag like this is the fact that it needs to hold together when it is horizontal and vertical. I am a fairly obsessive packer and I like to know where things are in my bag. As a result I don’t want things moving around too much when I am carrying the bag. You pack the bag when it is horizontal but as soon as you lift it onto your back it ends up completely vertical. As a result it is necessary to pack the bigger things to the right-side (assuming you have the bag open with the flap facing away from you) of the bag so they will be at the bottom when it is on your back. This isn’t a problem though, just a consideration.

The bag in backpack mode…

Summary

Overall I’m really happy with the purchase of this bag. It worked extremely well for my tournament and I was able to fit  a lot of gear in there. I am planning another post in the near future which details the things that I bring to a tournament so you will get better idea of the capabilities of the bag then. It didn’t rain during the tournament so I haven’t actually tested the waterproof capabilities of the bag yet, but it certainly looks very rugged and waterproof – we’ll see!

I would recommend this bag to any Ultimate player or anyone who travels for a weekend of sport. You’ll comfortably get all the gear (depending on your sport) you need inside and it is comfortable to carry around. Great bag!

About half full of stuff … just my general league gear minus my shoes.

All the gear that was in there. The green bag has a few spare jerseys in there. Plenty of room for my shoes and a bunch more stuff.

Update!

I have now written a post showing the list of things I typically pack for an Ultimate tournament. This gives you a great idea of how much stuff you can fit into the bag.

May 8, 2012 at 6:25 pm 5 comments

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