[Originally posted to cwru.edu]

In Ultimate, every position requires catching the disc. Therefore, every Ultimate player needs to be able to judge where a thrown disc will go. This skill is called “reading the disc” by people who know how to do it. With the right technique and lots of practice, you can be one of these attractive, intelligent, and highly successful people!

You can probably already read low, flat throws, but you may have difficulty reading high or curving ones. Here’s how.


You cannot outrun a disc, especially near the end of a high throw that tails off to one side.

You don’t have to run under the disc the whole time.

If you can estimate the disc’s destination, you can run straight there. Maybe you can even catch it.


Look at the disc in the air for a moment.

Is it tilting down to one side? If so, run to that side of the disc.

Is it starting to accelerate to that side? Run even more to that side.

Look at the disc often as you run. Readjust as necessary.

Confused? Look at the pretty picture. (Reload the picture to watch again.)


Never run directly under a curving throw. The disc gains velocity as it curves, and it’s almost always faster than you at the end of its flight.

If you’re new at reading, overestimate. Run “too far” to the side the disc will curve to. Just as it’s easier for a baseball outfielder to overestimate and run forward for a catch than to underestimate and backpedal, it’s easier for you to overestimate and come back to the disc than to underestimate and try to outrun it.

Remember, you want to beat the disc to its destination. If your initial estimate of its path is correct, you’ll run in a straight line the whole way, giving you a chance to get there first. Also, it’ll let you position yourself well against a defender.


It’s hard to learn to read. You will invariably make a poor estimate and end up in the wrong place. Don’t worry about mistakes. Just make your best estimate, then run there with confidence. If you’re right, you’ll get a chance at the disc. If you’re wrong, you’ll learn from it. Reading the disc consistently comes only with experience and repetition.