Splendid Frisbee

Frequently Asked Questions

and some questions that are never asked but really should be answered

a compendium of
useful tips, dastardly tricks, official rules, smart remarks, verbal abuse, self-centered tales,
all manner of incoherent nonsense that no one would let me post anywhere else

Reservations are required as of 10/12/07, and reservations need to be cancelled at least 90 minutes before the start time. Write to carolyn AT supersaturated DOT com to reserve a spot.
So, this is like Ultimate Frisbee?
Then it's like Frisbee Golf?
I can't throw a frisbee very well.
Why do I need to make a reservation?
Why do I need shoes at the beach?!.
How long do you play?
What day and time do you play?
How steep is the learning curve?
Are there any rules at all?
I'm a slow runner. Can I still play? (Strategies!)
I'm a fast runner. Is this going to be worth my time? (Strategies!)
Can I bring my child?
Can I bring my dog?
Do you ever play on Rollerblades?
How about bicycles?
Why don't you join an Ultimate Frisbee team?
Can we play Ultimate Frisbee if we get enough people to come?
What are the origins of the game?

  1. So, this is like Ultimate Frisbee?

    No, not at all! Stop asking me that! Splendid Frisbee is its own unique game, which is why it has its own unique name. For a brief and delightful description, please RTFM. We'll all be glad you did.

  2. Then it's like Frisbee Golf?


  3. I can't throw a frisbee very well.

    We'll teach you!

  4. Why do I have to make a reservation for myself and my guests? It's just frisbee for gods' sake!

    First, it's about me: I bring enough frisbees for people who commit to play on a given day. I ride my bike, 9 miles, uphill. Therefore the number of frisbees that I bring matters to me (I need to leave myself extra time with each additional pound of plastic, and occasionally make other sacrifices in terms of things I can bring). If you make a reservation and then bugger off, you might not be the only one: I might bring frisbees for 15 people, only to find 3 people at the beach waiting for me. That would make me scowl, and then I'd take you off my list as unreliable. On the other hand, if you don't tell me that you are coming, again you might not be the only one: I could show up with 1 frisbee for two people only to find 10 people waiting to play.

    Second, it's about YOU: If no one makes a reservation to play, I SILENTLY CANCEL THE GAME. You will not know about the cancellation, because I had no reason to think that you were planning to play. That means that you could show up at 10am for a game that doesn't exist.

    So, please, let me know if you are coming *for sure*, and if something comes up to prevent you from playing, please call me so that I don't carry 10 pounds of frisbee 9 miles uphill to La Jolla only to find that all 15 of my confirmed reservations found something more interesting to do that day but didn't bother to tell me. Fair?

  5. Why do I need shoes at the beach?!

    The beach is hard and unyielding. It only seems soft if you are not moving much. If you did not grow up hunting antelope on the savanna, then your body is not prepared to run barefoot. Every person who has played barefoot has gotten injuried. Of course, it's your decision if you feel like taking the risk. However, I frown on the practice in part because YOUR avoidable injury slows OUR game down, because everyone feels sorry for you and stops to help or just accompany you even if you try to shoo us away. I promise you, this game is challenging enough and you will have plenty of other opportunities for injuries. In addition, our tradition is to visit the tidepools between laps; the craggy rocks are barnacle-covered, pretty much guaranteeing that you will be injured even if we slow down for you. Our barefoot injuries to date include:

    • bee stings
    • glass and clamshell cuts
    • twisted metatarsals from folding toes under the foot in a sandhole
    • shin splints
    • lower back pain
    • fasciitis
    • tendonitis
    • bruised soles
    • abbraided soles
    • blood blisters
    • knee problems
    • hip problems

  6. How long do you play?

    2 to 3 hours. Loosely, the game ends "when we can no longer throw, or run, or speak".

  7. When do you play?

    Currently, we play on a weekend day. Reservations are required as of 10/12/07, and reservations need to be cancelled at least 90 minutes before the start time. The day is either Saturday or Sunday, and the time is variable. There is no fixed game schedule.

  8. How steep is the learning curve?

    Depends on your sense of humor, your intelligence, and how big your ego is.

  9. Are there any rules at all?

    Yes. They are very simple and quite logical. Most of them are safety-related. I'm assuming that you are coming to play because you can live with them. If I have to stop and talk to you about them more than once, I'm going to save myself time and annoyance by taking you off the invitation list.

    As of 9/15/8, there is a new abbreviated rule-page. This helps people who for some reason can't pay attention long enough to read the explanations; it is no help whatever for people who refuse to read at all--their addresses will simply be removed from the list. It includes rules that previously were unspoken because everyone automatically complied with them out of common sense. As more and more people play, we find more people who don't have common sense. And thus, the unwritten rules must be written.

    • Please keep moving in one general direction.

      We're here to run. If you must slow to a walk, please keep going: we'll zigzag across your path.

    • Confirm eye-contact before throwing.

      If you call the person's name after you throw, it's usually too late; if she turns around she'll just get hit in the face instead of the back of her head.

    • No overhand, baseball-throws among the tourists!

      Overhand pitches are uncontrollable and gain tremendous speed during their descent. I don't like getting hit with them, and people who aren't involved with the game REALLY don't like getting hit with them. We ask that you throw the frisbee like a frisbee and aim it at an alert player. Thanks.

    • Don't challenge another player for the frisbee--it's dangerous!

      Crashes are no fun and I for one am no longer up to it. How would you feel if you body-slammed me and I broke my hip?! If you find yourself on a collision course with someone, kindly shout out your intention (if you've got it, say so; if you're backing off, tell the other person it's hers). Always assume, until you hear a shout, that the other person has not seen you. When in doubt, back off. If the other person is smaller than you, definitely back off.

    • Don't take risks with babies.

      As mentioned in the description, babies and children experience Beach Blindness as a rule. They also fail to obey certain laws of physics. Whatever your own trajectory and the trajectory of a moving child, it can be safely assumed that the two of you WILL collide. Sitting children are helpless. If there is any chance that your intended receiver will miss the frisbee, allowing it to slam into a child, don't throw. If you don't have the frisbee, warn the player(s) with the frisbee(s) when you are passing too close to kids by pointing at them or shouting "Babies!".

    • Whoever throws the frisbee in the water goes to get it.

      I (usually) hate getting my running shoes wet, so I'm scrupulously careful not to send the frisbee into the waves. To encourage you to do the same, I ask you to plan to retrieve it if your efforts fail. Thank you for your support.

  10. I'm a slow runner. Can I still play?

    Yep, if you and your doctor think it's ok, it's fine with me. I really only care whether *I* get to run. As long as someone is flinging the frisbee at me while I'm doing that I'm happy. Woof!

    But you should think about some strategies that you can use to control the pace of your fellow players. I do it all the time, since I'm not a world class runner and I'm not a teenager.

    • Avoid the soft sand. Soft sand is very difficult to run in, so stay out of it yourself. If you can push the faster runners further into the soft sand, so much the better.

    • Throw behind a fast runner.When you throw to a faster runner, throw it a little bit *behind* him (so he has to stop or double back). The faster runner forgets that he's supposed to return to us and instead keeps running ahead; this makes the slower runners feel like they are supposed to try to catch up to him. Both psychological states contribute to a widening gap between players, because the slower runners quickly become exhausted. Before throwing the frisbee behind, let us know that's what you're doing, or call someone's name and point where you're planning to send him.

    • Throw short to someone far ahead of you. NEVER fling the frisbee harder to try to reach someone who is way out ahead of you (and in some enthusiastic cases, still running fast!). This will only put her further ahead of you. It's not nearly as much fun for any of the players, since the faster person then finds herself basically no longer in the game. As the slower runner, you're much better off throwing short, so the person has to run back toward you.

    • Make the faster runners zigzag. While you're running beside a faster runner, wear him out by throwing alternating short tosses and long ones, perpendicular to the path of travel. This will make him run in a zigzag while you can continue to run a straight path or slow to a walk to catch your breath. But throw it within catchable distance; people learn quickly not to chase your throws if they tend to be out of reach.

    • Send faster runners on a sprint. If a faster runner is going at a painfully slow pace, he'll know enough to ask for a long throw so that he can get a good sprint in. If he doesn't ask, assume he's fine with the pace.

    • Let the stronger runner chase the frisbee. Chase fewer wide throws. Let a stronger runner (possibly the person who threw it) chase it while you take a quick breather.

    • Make them dive. If you can get the faster person to fall or dive, even better. Falling and getting back up take extra energy. Be sure to throw it just out of reach, so it looks like he might be able to get it if he accelerates. Very tiring for him!

    • Don't turn back! Have a look at the strategies for faster runners. Sometimes you will see other players, who were ahead of you, running back toward you. You may feel an almost irresistible herd-animal-urge to turn around and run with them. Do not do this! They're coming back to get you, so just keep going as you were.

  11. I'm a fast runner. Is this going to be worth my time, if there are pokey turtles playing with us?

    Oh, we'll wear you out, don't worry. This is ferocious exercise, AND you get a perfect all-over tan. Here are some tips for making your own workout as grueling as possible.

    • Never throw behind you to a slower runner. Your heart bleeds for slow people, but you make the situation worse by throwing behind you. If you feel like someone is being left out or left behind, circle back for him.

    • Request a sprint. Ask and you shall receive. The "goal" of Splendid Frisbee is not to tear down to the pier and back as fast as possible, but to stylishly toss the frisbee and snap it out of the air while running. If you're winning some undeclared race against us, this won't be possible. There's no reason, other than convention, that you have to run in a straight line in order to get your exercise. Tell us you need a sprint, and we'll fling it long. Then we'll walk along panting and wheezing theatrically while you heroically chase it and bring it back. Then we'll do it again and again, until you can no longer intelligibly speak your own name. THAT's glory for you!

    • Burn calories. Do something to use up your excess energy. If someone is falling behind, double back and make a wide circle. Circle repeatedly if she can only manage a jog. This will keep everyone in close enough proximity to continue throwing the frisbee. For some reason it also tends to make people laugh, a primary purpose of the game. Run out to the left to catch the frisbee, but carry it almost all the way back right before handing it off with an excrutiatingly accurate toss. Sometimes in a game of three, the two faster runners have repeatedly criss-crossed the path of the third slower runner. Personally I think this makes the game even more interesting. I used to play frequently with a roommate who had enough energy to run and throw, but not enough to sprint and catch; she'd throw it out for me, I'd chase it, then bring it back and literally put it in her hand. Woof!

    • Throw precisely. Put extra effort into the accuracy of your throws. Make sure that a slower runner never has to accelerate to catch the frisbee; one acceleration will waste his energy and result in an overall slowing of his pace. A few accelerations will make him bend over to experience a small heart attack. Your goal should be to keep his pace as even as possible so that the game can continue.

    • Be malleable. Note the manipulation strategies recommended for slower runners. Allow the slower runners to manipulate you. It's for your own good as well as theirs!

  12. Can I bring my child?

    Please do. Be forewarned that we will be using heavy (160g-200g) frisbees, which can be dangerous to growing brains. I always assume that, despite everyone's best effort including my own, I will get hit in the head. This might explain a lot about me... Anyway, you might want to instruct your child in the method of ducking and covering whenever the exact location of the frisbee(s) is unknown.

  13. Can I bring my dog?

    Regrettably, dogs are not allowed on the beaches until after 6pm.

  14. Do you ever play on Rollerblades?

    Oh, just say the word, and I'm there.

  15. How about bicycles?

    See answer to previous question.

  16. Why don't you join an Ultimate Frisbee team?

    Short answer: Why would I, when there is Splendid Frisbee?

    Long answer: Aside from having a principled objection to a clearly inferior game that has the arrogance to call itself 'ultimate', I also have a principled objection to team competition sports. First, I think the arbitrary imposition of rules and time limits is stupid. I don't mind rules that make sense, like, "Don't slam into another player who is chasing the same frisbee as you." I don't like arbitrary rules like "You can only carry the frisbee for 3 steps," or whatever. The boundaries should be integral to the game: if there are people lying on blankets, that's a boundary; if you step over it, you'll step on people, and you'll get what you deserve, and no one trying to enjoy the game has to keep track of any of this. But if you want to run 20 yards away before running back and rejoining the game, that is entirely your decision, and I see no reason to penalize you for wearing yourself out that way. I also see no reason to put anxious restrictions on how people are to throw or catch (if you want to catch with two hands, fine; if you like to catch with one hand, fine; if you want to throw with one foot off the ground, cool).

    Second, I've never been able to work up competitiveness in my own self. I played varsity lacrosse in college, and you'd think I would have developed some competitiveness then. But the plain fact is, I don't care who wins the arbitrary competition. I never have, and I probably never will. It just doesn't matter to me. This makes me a TERRIBLE team player, because I don't share the same goals as the other players; and this makes the whole experience a lot less fun for me, and a lot less of whatever the hell the competitive players get out of the game. Why torture myself and others? I'd rather play a game with no scores and no goals, where each player determines for himself or herself, like good independent little thinkers, what "winning" means to them in the context. I do care to some extent about my own good performance. I try to throw so that people can catch (or to make them run, if that's what they like); I like to catch smoothly and while in motion. I like to sprint--sometimes!--for the frisbee. But I guess what I don't like about competitive sports is that it's always someone else's arbitrary and pointless decision of what I *should* be doing *when*. That's just a drag, and a pressure I don't need when I'm out trying to have a laugh and get some sun and exercise.

    Third, I don't enjoy the atmosphere of competitive sports. People are anxious and stressed out, they don't smile, they get embarrassed if they make a mistake and they yell at others who do. They are willing to hurt people if necessary. I find all of this to be a royal drag. If I wanted that kind of atmosphere I'd visit my family.

  17. Can we play Ultimate Frisbee if we get enough people to come?

    You can do whatever you want! It's a free country! Why don't you organize a game?

  18. What are the origins of the game?

    Long, long ago, in the ancient city of Baltimore, Thomas and I terrorized the neighbors by playing a primitive form of Splendid Frisbee in tight spaces between row houses and cars, sometimes in an empty, steeply sloping, partially wooded lot known locally as "The Field". Many co-created science fiction stories revolved around the disc and our travels through the paths in The Field, so frisbee was not just a physical sport for us: it was art, intrigue, and drama. There was serious danger, both real and imagined (I suffered my first broken bone chasing a frisbee in this field). Running through the paths was involved, though not usually directly. Incredibly, this nonsense went on for many years.

    When I was in college (around 1984), the game solidified. I had just played a year of varsity lacrosse, so I was inclined to run and dodge obstacles. I missed lacrosse without missing the competitiveness. I made up for it with the new twist on an old beloved game.

    In grad school in Bloomington, Indiana (around 1987), I began running regularly. But running is not only painful, but boring. A running partner is good, but a running partner throwing a frisbee is immeasurably better. The frisbee provides more than enough motivation to sprint and to get more of a full-body workout. Fortunately, there were several willing victims around. Liz and Tom were my best partners. We honed the game. Somewhere around there I named it: "Splendid Frisbee," a tongue-in-cheek, stilted, pretentious name partly meant to express how the players feel about it, partly to poke fun at the people who named Ultimate Frisbee with a superlative, as if that were a game than which no greater can be conceived. It is a bit of a filtering mechanism, because you have to have something of a sense of humor to hear that name and try it anyway.

    Rules were developed, as one might expect, ad hoc, after much induction from empirical data. They are subject to revision and addition. But let there never be contrived and pointless rules, irrelevant standards to live up to. It shall always remain a laissez-faire game, on pain of becoming a completely different game.

    A possible "goal" for the game is to be the last player able to speak a semi-coherent sentence and stand upright without staggering. That person could then be required to purchase electrolytes for all the other players.

    I have played the game wherever I have traveled. Discs are easy to pack, and I really only need one other player, or a stiff wind, to make a game happen. But I have never caught *ANY*one else playing the game without me, ever. Why? It seems like such an obvious thing to do! Everyone who plays it with me likes it, but I don't think any of them have ever reported back that they played without me. Perhaps *I* am Splendid Frisbee, and when I die, Splendid Frisbee will fly up onto a roof and get stuck there forever. That is why I am writing this history: maybe one day after I am gone, someone will read this and resurrect it simply because it is old and not in fashion.

    More likely, though, it doesn't catch on because it apparently *looks* really hard to spectators. People often stop me on the beach and tell me how amazing we are and how much fun it is to watch us. I have been asked if we are training for a biathalon (or for Ultimate Frisbee). They embarrassedly reject my offer to put them on the mailing list to join us, insisting that they could never keep up with us. Mostly, people watch us going by with wide eyes and surprised smiles; sometimes we get applause and cheers. It probably also looks like we have some definite yet mysterious plan, especially if we are zigzagging and circling to accommodate a slow runner. So no one knows what the "rules" are, so there's nothing to go home and duplicate in the back yard. I'd love to change this. How awesome it would be to wander into a park and find a game in progress, and join it if I were properly shod!

    For now, until we are featured on the news, we have to content ourselves with being a very small collective who incidentally provide entertainment to beach-goers.