Try Out Information

August 25, 2015

Disclaimer: This was written under the general assumption that the reader has not had any exposure to ultimate as a competitive sport.

Welcome new recruits and returners! We are itching for the season to start, and are excited to get things moving for the 2015-2016 season!

To those that have already reached out, regarding try outs, thank you for your inquiries! It means a lot that (1) there are players that already have interest in the sport/team, and (2) you are already looking to get better and help the team by getting ready for try outs. This post will give any interested player a guideline to how try outs will be run this year, as well as what we are looking for in rookies going into the upcoming season.



ARC is Michigan State’s premier ultimate team. We are a competitive team that hopes to play at the highest level ultimate the College division has to offer.

For more detailed information on our team, go here.

For more detailed information on the sport of ultimate, go here.

To see us in action check out our latest highlight video.

Riot Control

Riot Control is the second open ultimate team at MSU. The goal of Riot is to learn the game of ultimate, and to have fun while doing it. Riot Control is a no-cut team, and generally travels to 2-3 tournaments per semester to play against other college teams. One of the most important aspects of playing for Riot is that it introduces you to the ultimate community, and is a place for players to improve before moving up to ARC.

A key note about Riot is that a large number of our best players came from Riot, and two of the three ARC’s captains started playing on Riot before being a part of ARC.

Riot plays a big part in our program and is a great way to retain players for future years to make sure our ultimate community at MSU stays vibrant despite the turnover of players occurring from year to year.


For try outs you will need a few things:

  • cleats
  • a white and dark shirt/jersey (not grey!)
  • water
  • a positive attitude
  • a disc (optional)

Disclaimer: Please only bring white Discraft discs ($10 at a sporting goods store), no Wham-o’s or Innova discs, see pictures below for reference











Try out practices will be at Service Road Fields. Kenyon Fall Preview, the first try out tournament (Sept 19-20), will be located in Gambier, OH. Huck of the Irish (Oct. 3-4), the final try out tournament, will be located in South Bend, IN.

Side note: For those new to ultimate, the tournament format may be a foreign concept for you. Ultimate does not compete with single games (although unofficial scrimmages occur), ultimate competes with tournaments. This is mainly due to the economics of the sport, but without going too far into details, just know that these tournaments are extremely important because they are a simulation for the way we will be competing throughout the season, more on this later.


Try outs will start the second week of school (September 7-13). There will be two try out practices per week; occurring on Tuesdays and Thursdays of every week from 5-7 pm. There will be a total of eight try out practices, and two try out tournaments within those four weeks. One tournament is on the weekend of September 19-20 (Kenyon Fall Preview), and the other is on the weekend of October 3-4 (Huck of the Irish). Following the second tournament, we will decide on our roster for the Fall 2015 season, although changes can be made for the Spring.


Because ultimate is the best sport on Earth, the fact that you asked makes you a dingus.


Here’s the fun part: how will you make the team.

A little background, we placed 7th in the region last season, and are hoping to improve that placing this upcoming season. With that, we already have a substantial amount of returners coming back dedicated to reaching this goal. If we were to take a full roster there is room for 27 players. Although, this doesn’t mean we will take 27 players; we will take the amount of players that we feel deserve to be on the team. It should also be noted that there are twenty returning players, they are not guaranteed a spot on the team, but they have a big advantage since they have played for the team before and have experience with the sport.

For the statistical people out there, here are your odds:

Generally, our first try out has a lot of people, up to and over 100 sometimes (not including returners), this number will depend on how well we get word out about try outs, how successful we are at recruiting, and the initial interest the incoming class has in ultimate. Although, a large amount of these people aren’t familiar with the competitive nature of the sport. With that in mind, there is a significant drop off, sometimes half or even a majority of the original number, after the first try out. This brings us to our first focus you should have going into the try out process:

The list below is in order of what we will look for most during try outs, where 1 = highest priority, 5 = lowest priority. 

1. Show Up

As Woody Allen says, “Eighty percent of success is showing up” and it’s no different in the world of ARC and ultimate. Simply, the more we see you, the more we know who you are, the more you will stand out. This means, at the very least, come to every try out practice. Introduce yourselves to the captains (you will know who we are from the beginning, don’t worry) and the team, ask questions, be friendly.

Coming to practice is great, and I hope everyone interested comes out to all of them, but if you want to really stand out and be know, you will come to the try out tournaments. These tournaments are extremely important for having a legitimate chance of making the team, for multiple reasons: (1) it shows that you really care and have commitment to the sport, (2) willing to spend a whole weekend playing ultimate and bonding with the team, (3) you will get to know the team and we will get to know you, simply because everyone is forced to hang out with each other for an entire weekend, and (4) the amount of improvement and knowledge you will get (especially as a new player) about the team, the sport, and just how tournaments work is immense. There is simply no other way to simulate how we compete in practice, and the only way to find out what it’s like is to experience it first hand.

If you really want to go the extra mile, come to our off field events. You will soon find out that the ultimate community (at MSU and all throughout the world) is a vibrant, growing community who loves to hang out with each other. I can tell you from a personal perspective, most of my best friends play ultimate in some capacity. Given this, we will have some off field events (cook outs, informal tossing sessions, dinners, etc.) throughout the try out process, take these opportunities to get to know everyone in the program and show that you’re a likeable person (this is more important than you might think).

If you do all of the following, we will have no choice but to know who you are. That may not seem like much, but trust me it’s a big step in getting a spot on the team. Simply put, we can’t put anyone on the team that we don’t know, and you’d be surprised how many times in the past there have been roster additions later on in the year, because the leadership missed its initial opportunity to see certain players during try outs.

2. Positivity

Showing up is great,  and is a necessary part of the try out process but it isn’t enough. What’s worse than not showing up? Showing up to everything and being negative all the time.

We’ve all met people that seem to complain about everything, make excuses, and blames others for their mistakes or lack of enthusiasm. Don’t be that guy. On ARC, we want to foster a positive team that supports each other, rather than bringing people down. This, just like anything else, is a skill and it needs to be honed and polished, so don’t take it lightly. Many of the people reading this have played sports before, if you’re one of those people, you know how easy it is, in times of struggle and setbacks, to be negative and blame others or your situation (blaming a loss on calls on the field, weather conditions, etc.) for those obstacles. It takes mental toughness and courage to be positive even in those times, and if you can’t show us that in try outs, it will be hard for us to be convinced you are right for the team.

Like I alluded to before, being positive in most situations takes mental toughness, a skill that is more important than physical abilities, especially in high stake situations like sectionals and regionals in the later parts of our season.

Some examples of being positive are: be friendly, show respect for team-mates and opponents, congratulate others when they make a good play, be open minded to constructive criticism (more on this later), ask questions, and motivate and inspire people to play the best they can.

3. Open Mindedness and Coachability

Simply put: you can always improve. There is always a higher ceiling you can reach as a player and a person. Realizing this and internalizing it, means you will always be open-minded to new ideas, constructive criticism, and working hard to continually improving yourself as a player and as a person (the two go hand in hand quite often).

More objectively, this means we want players that are always looking to improve themselves and the team, this can come in many forms, but at first this means being open to embracing the system already in place for ARC. This can have different meanings for players with differing backgrounds: if you’re completely new to ultimate, it means learning as much as you can about the team and sport, and understanding why we’re learning certain things in practice, and be able to apply it on the field, in a game situation.

If you’ve played ultimate before, it means being open to accept the way we do things at MSU, even if it’s completely different from what you’ve learned before. Once you’ve learned our system and understand the system, we, as leadership, will be much more open to potentially changing and modifying the system to the concerns of new players, but until we can trust that you’re for the team above all else , it will be hard for us to take any of those critiques seriously. The last thing we want to do is pass on a player with previous experience and superior talent, because they didn’t like the way we ran things at practice/tournaments.

Generally, if you have a curiosity about the team and the sport, respect the leadership’s decision making, are willing to follow before leading, and are open to constructive criticism, you will put yourself in a great position to make the team.

4. Defensive Positioning and Lockdown Defense

You’re bought in at this point, you plan on showing up to all of our events, you’ve refined the best technique for giving out high fives to team-mates, and you’re as open minded as the Dalai Lama. Now what?

This is where we will get technical. Everyone is expected to play high intensity, man-to-man defense. This means locking down your defender (think of a lock-down corner back in football) above all else. You’re goal as a defender, during try outs, should be to force the person in possession of the disc to look off the player you’re guarding. This means keeping up with your guy and working hard to stay with him for the duration of the point.

If you force a defensive turnover, great! That’s a bonus, but first  and foremost you’re goal should be to make sure your offender doesn’t ever get the disc.

Keep in mind that we will have individual lessons and goals for each practice, this could range from learning the fundamentals of the vert stack to learning how to throw a forehand more effectively. It’s important to take those individual practices lessons seriously, but playing lock-down defense should always be in the back of your mind throughout try outs, especially in scrimmages and game situations.

5. Decisive Cutting and Clearing Out

During the first week of try outs we will discuss basic cutting concepts, but don’t worry to much about how you are supposed to cut until that time. What’s important to know, right now, is that when making a cut or clearing out of the cutting lane, make sure it’s decisive and that you’re cutting with a purpose.

This will make more sense once we introduce cutting concepts and you see good cutters in action, so bare with me.

Too often I see new players over thinking their cuts in the early stages of try outs. Don’t get me wrong, being aware and cutting at the right time is an integral skill to have, but when starting out it’s more important that you understand that a lot of cutting is about taking control of your cut and owning it.

This means that when you cut, cut as hard as you can, and assume you’re going to get the disc. “Fake it until you make it” would be an appropriate saying here. Seeing a cutter that owns his cuts, even at the wrong time, will make more of an impression on the leadership than someone too scared to even make a cut, or when they do make a cut, it is so apprehensive that it has no real purpose to begin with.

I hope this post has been helpful, you should now have all the information you need to get through try outs and how to put yourself in the best position to make ARC!






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