Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hero`s Ultimate frisbee lifestyle - 2014, 2015

I was really having an ultimate filled lifestyle in the years of 2014 and 2015. Most of my life decisions whether to visit a place or not, whether to have food outside, party or not were driven by ultimate commitments. If there were tournaments or frisbee related activity in a place, we would travel. Also our team were having a lot of foodies. Essentially, we used to travel for the love of disc, sometimes for food. We as a team were so engrossed in ultimate frisbee that we used to think, sleep and play ultimate mostly and the hours of the day were not enough for ultimate.

Broader details of how I used to manage it are given below:

On weekdays, the day used to start at 5AM wake up, going to ultimate practise by 6AM,  practise till 8AM and going to work by 9:30 to 10. Work from 10 to 5PM followed by gym till 7PM and dinner by 8PM. Reach home by 10PM or so and sleep
Since my work and office were in Bangalore North and South approx 36 kms away, and also the practise location used to be about 10-15 kms away from work. I used to get change of clothes and get a shower at friend`s place or else at work and change to work clothes.

In Bangalore, the traffic is such a problem that using cars is such a pain. If you get stuck in peak hour traffic the speed of travel goes to as less as 10km per hour. So, I had to use bike as the convenient mode of transport. But riding bike was a challenge for around 80km per day. I took the challenge to do it and so had to strengthen my body for this task. In a week of gym visit, I made it a point to streghten my back atleast once which would endure close to 400km of bike ride a week.

On Saturdays, the day used to start at 5AM as usual the practise used to go on till 8 followed by a leisurely breakfast and plan for evening meetup or an occassional party.

Sunday used to be rest day or a day with 6AM practise and rest to take care of the sleep deficit which I had to get over the week.

We used to travel to tournaments all over India - Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Auroville, Hyderabad 
The travel was also driven by the love of ultimate - getting to test our skills as a team, working, playing as a coordinated team.

I really miss those days and wish I can become so much active now in the coming years and get a chance to represent India in masters` team for a world`s team(33 year old and above)

Monday, April 4, 2016

My ULTIMATE transformation

This is a self appreciating post. I am generally not like this but I wanted to keep a track of how my personality has evolved through the sport of ultimate. I found of no better way to express this best phase of my life. People who know me since 10 yrs or above can skip the Intro too!
I have written this after playing 9 ultimate tournaments. I was part of the winning team in my first ever HAT tournament in which what I did was just run and also part of silver pool winning team in Malaysian HAT tourney.

I am fortunate to have found this sport. Have always been fortunate in my life somehow. Be it having a supporting family, with them having no problems whatsoever with what I was doing and having a great set of friends who were there to inspire, guide me all along. I had never struggled to get anything in life. My parents wouldn't force me to do anything against my will and I never did care about how it would be perceived by others or what it would have an affect on me. Naturally, I was not pressurized to do anything. I generally took my own time to do anything. I still suck at acing pressurized situations as I am not used to being forced to do something.

Ultimate Journey:
I had a health complication in early 2013 which made me to give a thought of improving my health condition. So, I started running and very very light gym workout. 3kilo dumb-bell lifts and run on treadmill to be precise! Running outside was mostly on weekends and once in weekday in our office run club. I was fit enough to somehow run, walk a distance of 10k too in a time of 70 minutes.

Then my classmate KK who I should be indebted to, introduced me to this game. He told instead of running, come play Ultimate which is running and fun too :) So this lazy man who was never into waking up early on weekends started a new habit. I knew some of my teammates from college, but most of the people in the team were new and the team was reaaaly big in number. We had atleast 30 ppl in the team which was naturally difficult for me to gel with considering my social skills :P But my ultimate team is so easy to get along with. We not only play but we make sure that person is welcome. Little did I know that I would be so hooked to this game mostly because of my team, the challenges that this game presents when we are competing and ofcourse continuos learning 

Initially I used to suck at this sport. If you are from a non team sporting background like me, its not difficult to understand why. This game is extremely easy to learn, but extremely tough to master. Playing competitive ultimate requires you to be in your prime physical, mental fitness, apart from the frisbee skills. It is applicable to all 7 players of a team for playing on the field. I remember that I made a successful pass of the frisbee after 3 long days of playing :) My initial aim was to somehow throw and catch well which I did with assistance from my team, a very young 50 year old Narendra who is excited about every object which flies. Then we planned to play tournaments to see where we were at executing our skills. There were already main players in our team(both men and women) who were easily better than me in frisbee skills. I was part of the sideline squad for my first tournament mostly and I accepted that as the other players of my team were better. Even while playing less, I had faced severe vomiting in my first ever tournament. Such was my fitness levels :P

I could have thought of saying it quits as at that point I had no chance to play with this team. Even if I was in the team, I would be definitely water boy or warming the bench! So, an idea struck me. Even if I am not getting to play in tourneys, why not aim to do well in practise. So, I was religious about giving my best in all practice sessions. Somehow I got the confidence to get to the next stage which was being efficient in the game. After some days, I worked a bit on strength training to work on my speed, jumps.

So, when we played subsequent tournaments, I thought speed was enough to play well. But it was not quite. Having speed only will make you a uni dimensional player. Better if coupled with game sense which is the prediction of how opposition player moves. Then came the stage of watching games to understand how other teams play, how the teams across the world plays offense or defense. 
When I got better skillwise, I also noticed that other teammates too were getting better and naturally they all wanted to contribute to the team. I then changed my game to compliment the dominant player(s) and clearing out the space for that dominant player of the team to make more plays. I also took up the responsibility of talking to the team while on sideline as this was a thing which I enjoyed doing!

This transition of working on 1 thing at a time has helped me so much. I now feel I have come a really long way from being a guy who was puffing and panting after 100 mtrs run to running a 10k run in 49 mins, my personal best till date. My binge eating has reduced drastically as I have begun to realise that good diet is what makes an athlete a better one. I feel a lot more confident of my body, the amount of wear and tear it might take and how much recovery time I might have to take. 

My learnings, results from this beautiful phase of life:
  • I have gotten more confident about my health
  • Understood that most complex things can be solved in life. Requires time, perseverance and hardwork.
  • My speed has improved a lot. I can do 40 yards in close to 5.5 seconds. Have been observing that the NFL guys also do 4.4 seconds for 40 yards.
  • I have begun to appreciate the value of teamwork in team sports.
  • If an athlete is a better athlete, I would get an idea of how much that athlete has endured, worked and experienced to be one!
  • I am able to manage my personal, professional tasks better than before.
  • Got the privilege to meet and play with great people from around the world
  • Most of all, I got the realization of a person I am and what I intend to be

Monday, February 9, 2015

Team Thatte Idlis till BUO`2014

This is an humble start to my Ultimate frisbee journey which started off an year ago.
The team from which I have started off this journey is 'Thatte Idli with Kaal Soup' (TIKS)
Below is an introduction to the game of Ultimate and our team`s journey into one of India`s premier ultimate tournament, the 2014 edition of Bangalore Ultimate Open also known in Indian Ultimate circles as BUO

Firstly, the introduction of Ultimate:

"Throw, Run, Catch the disc" in a nutshell describes Ultimate. Ultimate is the sport our team of mostly adventure and fitness enthusiasts plays.  It started off relatively late in our life but surely enough, teammates got flying disc intoxicated and are still going strong!

For beginners, Ultimate is a game played with 7 members on each side using a flying disc. It is a no-contact sport where there should not be a contact between opposing teammates during the game. Members should pass along the disc among teammembers in the 100 meter by 37 meter length field without running with the disc and with an aim to get to the opposite endzone which is usually 18 meters across the length of the field. If a team drops the disc or the disc goes out of bounds, there will be a turnover and the opposite team takes offence and tries to move to the opposite endzone. 

For more rules and documentation, refer to the official rules at: 

How Ultimate addiction started:

It all started about a year ago when our college mate Raghav took his dog to throw some discs at cubbon park, which is undoubtedly the best place in Bangalore either for fitness enthusiasts or people who want to have a leisurely walk in. To his surprise he notices some people who are playing disc but with a difference. There was catching, running and throwing involved along with the disc which intrigued him to know more about the sport. And then, it started off with like-minded people initially and by word of mouth to fitness enthusiasts like me and others. 

So, Cubbon park became the starting point for flying disc intoxication. Since the practice was on tar roads of cubbon, there was a risk of injury and so the team tried multiple alternatives like National College grounds and other fields. In so many fields or grounds, the team had to face backlash from other 

Sports players especially cricket. Some teammates even despised the game of cricket because of this citing reason of why a lazy game like cricket should get priority in most grounds of India. Finally we got a field in National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) with the help of research students who led us a green lush field of NCBS to play Ultimate over weekends. The playing field was lush green and fun to play on with less chances of injuries. On Sunday when NCBS was having a holiday we got the ground to play for as much as we could. There was intensity during play, camaraderie during cooling down exercises and some good food to be had as a team post the game. So, a typical weekend`s mornings were dedicated for Ultimate Frisbee.

During October of 2013, when most of the team had gone to Bhutan for a trekking adventure, the games got discontinued. That is when few of our teammates had gone to Chennai to see an annual Ultimate event, the Chennai Heat tournament. Chennai Heat is a 3-day event during the month of October and happens on the beaches of Chennai where top Ultimate teams vie for top glory at this event. They were amazed by the kind of plays made in that event. During December, some team members also played an HAT tournament in Auroville, Pondicherry where registered individuals are made as a team which is a mix and match of Ultimate players based on their experience and skill levels.

So, the team was getting the feel of how the Ultimate competition in India was. After a small hiatus, the team was back on and playing games as usual. Then during the time of March, there was  a talk of Bangalore Ultimate League(BUL) planned. BUL was a preceeding tournament of the big tournament called Bangalore Ultimate Open(BUO) where the participating teams got some match practice and see where they stand in Bangalore.

Bangalore Ultimate League(BUL):

We were just playing amongst ourselves as a team. So, playing other teams was a different learning experience. Our team didn’t even have a team t-shirt to start off with. Other teams which were formed years earlier than us were refined in their game. Their defense and offence were many a times better than ours. Naturally, we began to lose in the league. But in turn made good friends with members of other teams and gradually our game improved. The best part about BUL and Ultimate in general was that there was a ‘Spirit Circle’ after the game where the teams get mixed and form a circle post the game and tell the positives about other team and also the points of improvement in the team. Also, we had a great chance to play the best teams of Bangalore. Then, we gave our game session a break and we worked on points of improvement which other teams in BUL had taught us. So, we practiced our throws, did some drills specific to the game and slowly but surely the results started to follow. Our performances in the subsequent games improved and we even had a tied game against a better team in BUL which was the highest point for our team. 3-4 weeks before the BUO, most teams wanted to practice and BUL came to an abrupt end before all the matches were over.

Bangalore Ultimate Open(BUO) 2014 preparation:

We registered for the BUO 2014 and naturally the team was excited to play in this high profile tournament. Teams from across India were coming. We also knew that we had to play 3 matches a day which was a tough ask considering our fitness levels and also for most of us, this was the first ever tournament.
The last 3-4 weeks before BUO we practiced 4 days a week where we practiced on weekends along with Tuesday and Thursday. We watched YouTube videos of Ultimate games and discussed the same over WhatsApp or during our training sessions. We did drills and fitness practice.  Our throws improved, game reading skill improved and we were a better team from past month. Some of us did gym training as well to strengthen our muscles which would lessen the chance of injury. We wished we got another 3 more months for training which may have put us in a better shape for BUO tournament. Since we could not play in NCBS, we also did a practice session 40 km from Bangalore in a farm of our teammate. It was indeed a great experience to play and learn throwing when there was a lot of wind which would alter the range, direction and effectives of a frisbee throw. Since we were a new team and had lost all matches in BUL, we were seeded 23 out of the 24 teams which registered for the tournament.


We were relatively prepared to do well in the tournament. The team wanted to win some matches and punch above our seeding in the matches we can. We were overwhelmed at seeing so many awesome Ultimate players from across India in one venue. There was so much awesomeness to be seen on the field yet in our mind we were determined to play well. Come day 1, and we played a Bangalore based team which we knew very well. Only difference, they were much experienced, well prepared and brilliant in their execution. They won handsomely against us. Although we played well, we had to be on the losing side. Later that day we played a team from Chennai and Pondicherry. Pondicherry team was incidentally previous year’s finalist and the Chennai team happened to be this tournament’s finalist. We played our hearts out and we were applauded in each of our matches by the opposition team. 

Day 2 was even tough on us where we had to play 4 matches with little breaks between matches. Day 2 also incidentally was an important day for us as we registered our first win as a team! We were fully excited about the win. We narrowly missed on winning another match later that day. Since we had to play 4 matches on that day, we found it tough to stay energetic for the 4th match in that day. We did so with some difficulty and unwound later that night at the party organized by BUO organizers. 

On Day 3, most of the team had severe body pains. The only good thing was that we had only 2 games out of which we won one and lost on the very last point in the second game. The schedule was planned for all of the other teams to witness the finals. 

We finished 22 out of the 24 teams in the tournament and a person from our team was selected to be the MVP of the tournament. This was a moment of pride for all of us. The tournament taught us about the competitive nature of Ultimate sport in India and where we need to improve our game. 

Post the tournament, the hunger to do well is obviously there. The hunger is also there to improve our game and be a better team in the seasons to come. For most of the team, the team is enjoying the journey of transforming from an amateur team to a better team. Personally, I got an Ultimate family away from my family :)