Accountability for Unsolicited Sideline Calls/Opinions

  • June 30, 2024 at 4:55 pm #5749

    I coach a middle school team, and this might be a niche issue. Apologies if it is.

    One of the major tenets of ultimate is that players on the field make calls and discuss. Sideline players and coaches are not supposed to interfere unless asked. At the middle school level, there are a ton of calls where unsolicited opinions are shouted from the sideline and influence the decisions of the players on the field. This typically does not happen with coaches, but I have seen that before as well. We also commonly experience situations where sideline players tell players on the field to “call X!”

    Having a form of accountability in the rules for violating this “guideline” would go a long way. My players are typically proud of their grasp of the rules and frustrated by the frequency at which this occurred (almost every call with gray area). Right now, the only form of accountability is to remind the other team not to do this, which doesn’t work as well as it should. For an official rule to remedy this, perhaps the first offense could be a “warning” and subsequent offenses result in the ruling being discussed going against the team with the sideline infraction. On suggested calls from the sideline (like double teams or picks) that result in calls being made that would not otherwise be called, this could be a tool for overturning the call or adding to/resetting the stall count. Open to anything, just hoping for accountability.

    I think having a rule in place would be beneficial, and this would be the kind of rule that coaches of young teams (like the ones I coach) could discuss ahead of time to balance the learning element with spirit/etiquette. Feel free to comment with things I perhaps overlooked or other ideas for the specifics of a rule. I admittedly put some thought into the need for a rule but not much thought into the specifics of how such a rule would operate.

    June 30, 2024 at 5:30 pm #5750

    You seem to believe that indicating “Call X!” from the sideline is a bad behavior, but I’m not sure if this is a widely shared point of view. Of course, only the players on the field may make actual calls, and the sideline is explicitly forbidden from intervening in calls if they have not been invited to do so by the players involved. However, I believe it is totally acceptable for the sideline to inform the players that they may make a given call (e.g. “you can call double team” when the thrower doesn’t notice). I don’t see how that’s different from any other kind of sideline communication with the players, and since it’s not an actual call (“you can call double team” VS “DOUBLE TEAM!”) there’s no way it can be mistaken for an actual call.

    Why do you feel that this is detrimental to the game ?

    edit: where I would agree with you is that as far as I know, there’s no explicit point in the rule that handles the situation where someone on the sideline actually makes a call (e.g. “Out”) and a player on the opposite team stops as a result.

    • This reply was modified 2 weeks, 6 days ago by amaury.
    July 1, 2024 at 11:53 pm #5757

    To be honest, I don’t mind either way on that particular piece. It is a piece of etiquette that has been taught in all of the places I have played, but perhaps it isn’t a widely-shared tenet of the spirit of the game. My personal preference (perhaps due to bias from how I was taught the game) is that players on the sideline can remind teammates on the field to watch for things by saying something like “watch for double teams” before or after the fact, but in the moment it is happening, it shouldn’t be signaled/suggested in any way from the sideline. It can cause confusion because of the nature of self-officiation.

    The main point I feel strongly about is that wherever the boundary is for sideline participation, I think there should be rules and accountability for that boundary.

    July 6, 2024 at 9:10 am #5758

    (For your specific problem:)
    From what I can see, the accountability is just in the Spirit of the Game (i.e. 1.10 and 1.11). It technically doesn’t say anything about *making* a call, but making sure everyone understands that Non-Players shouldn’t influence call discussion could help.
    I personally think it’s fine if people on the sideline remind people of calls, as long as it’s not ambiguous like Amaury pointed out, and as long as it’s not “malicious” but that is also already very clearly addressed in the rules.

    (For the rules:)
    Adding something for accidental or mistaken calls that didn’t come from a player could be useful. Something along the lines of:
    “If a player reacts accordingly to a call they believe was made on field, but which was not made by someone who would be allowed to make that call, they may call a violation leading to a stoppage of play.”
    And then have some decision tree with whether it affected a play, either leading to the disc being returned to the last thrower before the call or just being checked in again at the current thrower.

    People on the sideline making ambiguous sounding calls should just be treated like a Spirit violation I think. It should be talked about before and/or after the game or during a spirit-timeout if it’s happening a lot during a match.

    July 11, 2024 at 3:40 pm #5765
    John Kofi

    If we talk about junior ultimate, I think Game Advisors and experienced players (neutral if possible) should be around most of the time to make sure that the game is spirited and smoothly rolling.

    For adult players that should know and respect the rules, everyone should make sure the sideline is silent during calls.
    During plays, it is common knowledge that anything from the sideline that could be misinterpreted into an on-field call should be avoided (even a simple sentence like “you can call a time-out” = someone could here timeout and stop playing).

    I think you can warn teammates and opponents about infractions but should be careful on the way to phrase it (“call x!” should be absolutely avoided).

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