What is handling? by Brummie

One of the most frequently observed positions on offence is that of a handler. What is handling, and what does a handler do?

What is a handler?

Players in ultimate can often be categorised into roles. However, unlike some sports like netball. All players in ultimate can move to all parts of the field and can all change positions and fulfil any role.

That said, one of the most commonly used terms is “handler”, i.e. one who “handles” the disc most frequently, and typically stays near the disc.

While each team might have slightly different expectations of what roles a handler in their team might perform, but the following are typical roles for a handler:

  • Field the pull
  • Throw the disc most often, and take on the more challenging throws such as throws to the deep space or break side
  • Stay near the disc to offer a reset to the stall

Handlers from Parcha fielding the pull

Note that some teams will keep the same player fulfilling the role of handler, while others will rotate as the disc moves so those players nearest the disc act as handlers. There is no right or wrong approach.

Traits of a handler

Ideal traits for a player acting as a handler might include:

  • An arsenal of different throws for different circumstances and weather conditions
  • The ability to stay calm and make good decisions
  • Good field positioning to maintain throwing lanes
  • Strong communication skills, since they will often be orchestrating the offence
  • The ability to see offensive players and defensive threats, aka “field vision”
  • Quickness and the ability to get open for short passes within a small time frame

It should be made clear that different teams will have different philosophies & tactics, so these act as a general guide rather than being rules. Some teams will seek to keep the disc moving and therefore require lots – or even all – of their players to act like “handlers”, while others will want to keep the disc in the hands of a single thrower to make all forward passes. Most will be somewhere between these two extremes, and it is usually the case that any given line of players have one or more players acting in the role of a “handler”.

Handlers from Pride of New York work the disc


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