Different London teams play in different kinds of events - some only play Summer League, others travel the world!
London Summer League (or "LSL") started in 1998 and has been growing rapidly in popularity.
Games take place on weeknights, typically from mid-May until late August. Each team plays one full game in an evening, and will not be scheduled with more than one game in a week. Games are played on marked pitches at venues in both north and south London.
We accept entries from teams only. Individuals without a team that want to play Summer League can either find an established team to play for via the London Ultimate Forum, or join forces with others in a similar predicament and enter their own team. It's rare that anyone finds themselves team-less.
Summer League is played mixed - you will need players of both sexes on your team.
Novice teams are welcome at Summer League. Even though the top league teams are pretty strong (we have a some world-class players in London), the league is structured so that teams spend most of the summer playing against teams of a similar standard to their own. Rest assured, you will not be the only new team at Summer League.
Summer League is renowned for its friendly atmosphere, even by Ultimate standards. Your opponents will almost certainly insist on dragging you to the pub after a game. There used to be a saying in Ultimate circles: "Most Fun Wins". Even if you don't hear it quoted much any more, it's no less true.
If you're an experienced player... then get yourself onto one of the top teams and be prepared to kick ass! In the most spirited manner possible, of course.
London's Winter League started around 1999, when players that had just finished Summer League realised they didn't want to stop! However, the evenings are not light enough over the winter to play midweek. So "LWL" operates as a series of mini-tournaments (or "matchdays"), taking place one sunday per month, kicking off in November. Teams play four full games at each matchday.
A couple of other features distinguish Winter League from Summer League. Firstly, it can be cold and occasionally wet. But British Ultimate players worked out a few years ago that it was perfectly possible to play all-year round... just wear the right clothes and bring a thermos!
Secondly, because Winter League takes place on weekends during the off-season, teams from all over the south-east show up to London Winter League, using it as a warm-up for the major outdoor events that start in April. LWL matchdays can look like UKUA Tour events in miniature.
Nevertheless, new teams are welcome, and there are separate divisions catering for everyone from European Champions to complete beginners.
Weekend tournaments are the traditional backbone of Ultimate in the UK. They're enormous fun and a great opportunity to meet players from outside London. Tournaments take place all over the country.
The UKUA "Tour" events are the most competitive of these tournaments, and the Open Division 'A' Tour is the place to see Ultimate played at its highest level. The UKUA also organises a Mixed Tour and Women's Tour, and the season culminates with National Championships in all three divisions.
There are also many popular informal tournaments throughout the year. With less riding on a good Sunday morning performance, Saturday nights at these tournaments are, shall we say, enthusiastically-received!
The most flexible way to play competitive Ultimate is to join the UK's "Ladder League". The idea is simple. You form a team, arrange games with other local teams, and report the results on the Ladder League website. The results are continuously collated to produce Regional and National rankings. The more games you play (and the better you do in them), the higher up the rankings your team climbs.
It's a great system. Full details can be found on the Ladder League website.
Although there has been something of a decline in indoor Ultimate in recent years, there are still well-attended events happening around the country throughout the winter. The game is played 5-a-side, and the smaller pitch and lack of wind actually makes for a very different style of play. Games are shorter than outdoors, but are no less demanding physically. The other bonus for some is that you can't get rained on.
Beach Ultimate is a fast-growing variation of the game which now has it's own World Championships just like the traditional grass game. Beach is usually played 5-a-side. However, the simple fact that you're running on sand makes it tactically very different, and exhausting in the extreme. On the plus side, laying out is almost entirely painless.
There are a couple of popular beach events in the UK, and many tournaments are staged around Southern Europe. "Paganello" in Rimini, Italy, is without doubt the most famous beach tournament. With over a hundred teams attending from all over the world, it has to be seen to be believed.
One of the attractions for many Ultimate players is the opportunity to experience other cultures by chasing plastic around a field (or beach) in a foreign country.
You can find Ultimate being played in pretty much every corner of the globe. The particularly adventurous player can travel to the North or South America, Australia or Asia, but tournaments around Europe are clearly the best-attended by British teams. Subscribing to the EuroDisc mailing list is a good way to start finding out about European tournaments.
No discussion of international Ultimate would be complete without mentioning the WFDF World Ultimate Championships and the World Games. But seeing as we started by talking about London Summer and Winter Leagues, I'll leave it to you to find out more.