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Injuries in Ultimate and why disc golf is a great way to still enjoy Frisbee sports.

Benefits of the Game - Injuries in ultimate and how to keep the disc flying


Don’t we all wish we could be 24 forever? The amount of energy and resilience that younger players bring to the field in ultimate is astounding. When you’re out there, you tend to feel invincible, until you get injured. Unfortunately, as fun as ultimate can be, it’s exceptionally hard on your body.

You can easily consider it to be a full speed sport, one where you’re constantly moving, twisting, and putting tons of pressure on your muscles and joints. From your back all the way down to your feet, it’s almost an instance of getting hurt sooner or later for most players. In fact, 40% of all ultimate injuries are due to running or overusing your body, and sprained ankles are the number one issue plaguing players.


DUDE Clothing - Ultimate Frisbee Catch - Lay out


So if you’re not a youngster anymore, or you’ve been hurt one too many times, how can you satisfy your love for frisbee sports without playing ultimate? For many, disc golf is the answer, as it provides a wide range of both mind and body benefits.

Keep Your Body Moving

When you compare the level of activity required to play ultimate versus playing disc golf, there’s an obvious difference. Although a round of disc golf doesn’t require you to run or dive, that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of physical benefits.

Try a fun experiment the next time you go out for a round - whether you use your phone or a watch that has a step counter, turn it on and see just how many steps you take throughout all 18 holes. Going disc golfing is essentially the equivalent of going on a hike, and that’s enough exercise and movement to support a healthy body and lifestyle.

Working Your Core

Health experts always talk about the benefits of a strong core, whether it’s being able to have good posture, preventing injury, or keeping your back healthy. Thankfully, the throwing motion used in disc golf engages your core and helps you to develop these essential muscles.

Not only does your core get a good workout, but there’s a laundry list of body parts that are used each time you play disc golf. Think about how you use your quads, glutes, lower back, shoulder stabilizers, and more to execute each shot you throw. Playing disc golf is a whole body workout similar to ultimate, yet without the potential for serious injury.

Solving The Puzzle

There’s a fair amount of mental agility required to play a game of ultimate, but when you compare it with disc golf, they’re worlds apart. Every time you step up to a tee box, there’s a list of analytical questions that have to be answered before you even throw:

  • How hard to I have to throw based on the hole length?
  • What’s the wind doing?
  • Do I need to compensate for elevation changes?
  • Is there a line that would be easier to execute than another?
  • Which discs have I really been dialing in today?

Not only do you run through this process at least 18 times during the course of a round, but each hole’s subsequent shots might also require the same pattern of thinking. It’s common to be just as mentally tired as you are physically wiped out after a round of disc golf.

DUDE Clothing - Disc Golf is a mental game, especially off the tee!

The Mental Health Aspect

You’re probably tired of hearing so much news around mental health these days but think for just a moment about how relevant the sport of disc golf is to that topic. Much of the time you’re playing a round with others, which gives you excellent social interaction and perhaps some friendly competition. At the very least, you’re spending time outdoors with people you enjoy.

Being a member of your local disc golf community gives you a feeling of purpose, pride, and emotional satisfaction that’s crucial to having a healthy and balanced life.

If you’re a former or current ultimate player, how have you felt about the transition to integrating disc golf into your life? Let us know in the comments below how it’s helped you to continue to enjoy frisbee sports.


1 comment

  • Quack: January 25, 2018

    I actually just posted on the IG post, but I guess I can get more in depth here.

    I started playing Ultimate when I was 23/24. After a few seasons I was the captain and responsible for keeping the team going, which meant (to me) that I had to keep getting out on the field no matter what was happening to my body. The only exceptions were severe impairments including (but not limited to) a really bad tear in my knee. I went to the hospital and they did an x-ray but not an mri to just let me know it wasn’t broken. “Gee thanks,” I thought to myself. I gave myself only a week and a half to recover because my job was strenuous as well and I didn’t want to miss out on my paycheck. Looking back, I was dumb. I started playing disc golf (competitively) when I was about 26. Which was when I torqued my knee. I had a real bad season and I was just getting down on myself. Eventually my knee started to feel better and I played more ultimate and more disc. Until I started playing in a hat league when I turned 30. I had a couple good seasons of that. I really did feel the best I had felt in a long time… until something happened and my groin started to hurt every time I got off the field at the end of the game. When my adrenaline was spent, I was out of commission. It was hard to walk for a good 20 minutes after those games and I’d have to rest for a week before it felt better… at the time it wasn’t effecting my disc golf game, but eventually it would. 2 years ago I almost stopped playing ultimate all together. It was too hard on my body and I wanted to save myself for my disc golf season. …but something happened that isn’t took me out. I don’t even know when it first happened, but I was on the tee box and went to throw as I normally do, it wasn’t to hat, I didn’t over rotate, but my hip completely popped and my groin muscles felt like they had torn off. At the time I didn’t have insurance so I wasn’t willing to pay an arm and a leg (that I didn’t have) to see what was wrong with me. So I just sucked it up and kept playing. I had the best and worst season of my disc golf career. I had finally placed top 1 or 2 at about half of my tournaments in MA2, the other half of the time, I was the bottom 5%. That was entirely due to the injury. Days where it wasn’t bothering me at all I was crushing, but days where it even twinged a little crushed me. I tried to give it as much rest as I could after that dg season and eventually discovered that it’s a hip issue and not a groin issue, but that, also, it’s a back issue. An Ultimate trainer that was on the sidelines, for the high school team I coach, checked me out and told me my issues. I went to my doctor later to see if he could refer me to a PT, but he told me something that sounded way worse. He told me it goes beyond muscular and that no matter what I do, this is what my hip will be like for the rest of my life. He said that surgery is far too risky because it may never recover and may just make it worse. So here I am in my 9th season after just finding this all out. Disc golf keeps me going. Ultimate was that thing, but disc golf has become that thing that I need in my life… but here I am, 34 years old and on top of questioning every throw I make on any course during any round, whether casual or competitive, I have to wonder if it will be my last round. I cannot throw power flicks for drives or fairway drives anymore because that’s when I can’t throw. The rotation of my hips pulls my groin and I drop like a sack of potatoes.

    So, what can I do now? I take about a week’s rest (or more) in between outings. I foam roll, but not as often as I should. I stretch more before rounds. I take Aleve before competitive rounds and will sometimes use Tiger Balm. And… I stay hydrated. These things have helped me stay in the game even with all these ailments.

    So to say that there’s mental exhaustion after a round…. yeah. There is. Especially if you’re like myself and never want to give up through injury.

    My only advice to Ultimate / Disc Golf players would be this:
    Don’t do what I did. When your body tells you something, get it checked out immediately. You may be off the field or the course for 6-9 months, but at least you won’t be dealing with the pain EVERY TIME you get out there.

    Take care of your body. Stretch more. Drink more water. Get a better mattress (Legit).

    I’ve taken a hit to my player rating over the last couple years because of my injuries, but there is a positive – because of these injuries, I’ve had to learn how to adjust my throws and now I’m playing smarter golf (most of the time), and now I’m throwing further than ever!

    So if you get an injury from ultimate or disc golf and you’re transitioning to disc golf anyway… just be aware of what your body tells you, and learn from it. Don’t keep throwing the same thing/the same way if it hurts. Change it up. Even if that means you won’t place or won’t beat your buddy… try something different that feels a little easier on your body. Practice that. And above all, TAKE your TIME to heal.

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