Thursday, April 27, 2006

more discussion on traveling

There is a thread on rsd about a clip of the day on ultivillage about whether a throw is a travel.

There is another factor at work here in determining the callability of the travel. I am distinguishing callability from legality here.

What makes a violation likely to be called? Two that spring to mind are:
1. Egregious violation
2. Clear advantage
2a. Breaking the mark
2b. Getting power on a huck

Some will argue about whether 2b is worthy of a travel call or not, and I'm not going to get into that today. But I read the commentary here, then I watched the clip, and came up with another factor:
3. Violator makes no attempt to avoid the infraction.

A defender who appears to try to avoid contact on a layout is less likely to be called for a foul than one who does not, even if the contact is the same. In this case, the hucker doesn't even seem to pay attention to his back foot. He just lets his back foot slide. It didn't drag, and it didn't simply roll over to his toe because he was exerting effort to keep it down and he made a powerful throw. A spectator or player who sees this play might intuitively feel that it's a travel not because he can actually tell that the foot moved before release, but because the thrower did nothing to prevent a travel.

I've made a few petty travel calls in my life, and have been irritated quite a few times by small travels, and I think those were due to factor #3 here. An example is the "handler hop" you'll sometimes see where a handler will catch a swing pass flat-footed and will take a little hop-step to the continue side. Beau's travels might fall under this category, too, as he walks back and forth about the same spot but isn't really setting himself up for anything.

Frank H might be on track with his belief that the soft love policies of ultimate that have allowed these routine, no-need violations to go unpunished have resulted in a less fundamentally sound game. But that, too, is a discussion for another day.


jtflynn said...

2b and 3 are the classic "you gotta be kidding me" calls. i've certainly made a few of them. you can certainly let some of them slide, but the question is how to decide which ones. do we care about upholding the letter of the law? the purest fundamentals? or if we had refs and commentators, would they simply call for letting players play? i don't have an answer, but as i mellow with age, these kinds of calls are the ones i've started reconsidering before they spew out of my mouth.

w$ #74

Anonymous said...

First, with respect to the video clip in question: it's not a travel. When I first watched it, I thought "oh, the link must be pointing to the wrong clip," because I didn't see anything here that could be noteworthy (other than the nice catch, and a college kid earlier in the clip throwing a pretty good high-release forehand). The hucker rolls up onto his toe as he throws --- explicilty allowed in the rules, although one could argue that it shouldn't be --- and does not drag his foot until the disc has left his hand. That's the way it looked to me at full speed, and it's clear at frame-by-frame.

As to the more general issue, I think Jim has a good list, as a description of what is likely to generate a call. But I'd rather see a prescriptive list of what _should_ generate a call. Personally, I disagree with people who say that you can't or shouldn't call a travel if the thrower didn't "gain an advantage" from it. There's always an advantage, from not having to think about it. I've never understood how people can travel, and at the same time claim that it doesn't matter if they travel or not because it doesn't help them. If it doesn't help you, then why do you insist on doing it?

That said, I very rarely make travel calls. I am also very rarely called for traveling.

--Phil Price

Sideline Engineer said...

This one fits into categories 1, 2, and 3:
Sure it requires a bit more knowledge of the rules, but at that level I'd expect players to know that the pivot must be set just inside the line when returning from OB.

ringo said...


I'm not sure I understand the analogy between "trying to avoid contact on a layout" and #3 in the context of this clip or traveling in general.

To me, trying to avoid contact is a willful and purposeful act. In this clip, the thrower (if he travels at all) looks like he does so unconsciously and with no intention to get around a mark. I would contrast that action with travelers who could have actively avoided traveling, such as: the squirrelly handler that curls up-field after catching a swing or the thrower in a zone or off a dump that takes an extra step/hop even though he has no momentum to do so. I think the latter is a more "call-worthy" travel.


parinella said...

Ringo, it looks to me that if the thrower DOESN'T travel he does so unconsicously. It's the motion of someone who makes no effort at all to keep the foot down. If you're trying to keep it down, you might still rise up onto your toe, but the foot will stay in the same place. If you aren't trying, you'll rise up and the foot will slide. His pivot foot ends up two feet from where it started.

Phil, there are some cases where there truly is no advantage or the advantage is so small as to be ignored and yet where travels have been called. Walking the disc up to an unmarked goal line but ending up a yard away. Running OB and returning only to the marked line but not an inch further so that you're touching both the line and the field. In the Shank play, officially it isn't a travel until he pivots off the line, since both feet are still viable pivots until then (even if we all know it's not), but I would consider it a pussy call if that happened (in fact, this did happen when I was observing, I was asked to make a call, and I said that it was a travel but it was a petty call).

That said, I can't remember a specific instance where there was clearly no advantage, there was no technicality, and yet a travel was called, like if the thrower slid his pivot foot 2 inches on an open side 10 yard throw. The open side huck that results in a slide, I've seen that called a few times, seen it occur a bunch of times, may have called it once. Yes, there is usually an advantage gained.

Fish said...

Sideline Engineer

I can't see the point that you're making with the Shank video, nor can I understand that your perspective provides some insight into exactly where Shank was in this play.

I watched frame by frame and he replaced his pivot at exactly the point at which he landed after the catch.

Not a travel, even remotely.

Anonymous said...

Just a though somewhat related to the discussion. If a game were to have 3 observers, why not designate one observer to only watch for travelling. In observed games, I feel that players should not be able to make travel calls in observed games. So if there are 3 observers, is this a good idea. It could force defenses to play a little harder and speed up the game immensely.

_dusty_ said...

In the TOS, the observer behind the disc is specifically watching for travels (as well as contact between the thrower and the mark, fast counts, double teams, etc).

Even in the 1 observer system, the observer spends most of his time watching the thrower and marker rather than the cutters down field. The only time you really look at the cutters is once the disc is in the air.

As long as we want the players to control the game, travel calls should not be active. In/out is an active call because the defense can't be hurt by an OB call, where as a travel called on stall 9 where no one was open is immensely beneficial to the offense.

If you're going to make travel calls active, the count should come in at the number reached plus one.

In general, I think non-contact violations could move more towards the active side, but contact fouls should always be initiated by the players.

Fast counts, double teams, stalls, picks, and travels are all violations that a well trained observer crew could call actively.

Anonymous said...

irritating travel number x.y

'the pivot drag' you fake the flick w/ long extension and then drag your pivot foot underneath you on the travel... then the quick pivot from the better balanced position... it's a huge advantage in moving the mark around... if you have the big step out throw, but then don't have to lift your weight back up...

'the bowler kick backhand'... a personal favorite. So much easier to rip it if you let your 'pivot foot' leave the ground and fly behind your leg...

'the turn the corner'... catch it... and head for the house... and come up throwing...

another favorite... 'the ground game'... 6 inches and a cloud of dust... the constant traveler... slowly inching around, and upfield incrementally... followed by a step forward to offer the check on the call...


habitual traveler said...

REgarding travels:

This is one that comes up with me a lot, and I have a hard time even noticing that I do it:

Flat cut for a swing. Disc is laid out in front of me so that I can run onto it. As I reach out to make the catch, I start turning upfield slightly. I begin to decellerate and plant my left foot as I catch the disc (I'm right handed). I plant aformentioned left foot (toes facing upfield) and then step upfield with my right foot.

"Travel! You turned upfield!"

I guess this is a travel, but I do not understand the logic behind it. My left foot has not moved. My right foot is upfield from my left, but what should I have done, stepped out horizontally in order to lose my momentum and the advantage of the cut I just made? XIII.D.5 states that this is a travel if I "change direction... after catching a pass and before establishing a pivot" but how does this apply to changing direction while establishing a pivot or prior to establishing a pivot? For that matter, which movements exactly establish a pivot? If I make a D with both feet planted on the ground, do I have to pick one of them up to establish a pivot? What do I need to do to establish a pivot after I run through a D? Stop? What's the logic behind that? Again, you lose the advantage you gained by making the play.

Anyway, I think I'm ranting. My apologies. If anyone can wade through that crap above and share some thoughts, that would be good.

pgw said...

habitual traveler says "I guess this is a travel ..." Well, not as you've described it, because as you state you did not change direction until after you established a pivot. But you can bet it will get called a lot, because it will look like a travel. Is this fair? No.

Anonymous said...

I'm back to wondering if I'm looking at the right video clip, or the right throw. (I realize that much of this discussion is general and is not tied to a particular throw, but I'm still interested in the throw that started it all). The one I'm talking about is at and is the final huck, by number 24 in white. He receives the disc, makes a little pivot and half-fake, then winds way up and lets rip, rolling up on his toe as he does so but not moving at all. (This is why I'm confused: Jim says his foot has "moved a good two feet", but in the clip I'm looking at, I can click through it a few frames at a time and I'm not sure his foot has moved two inches, much less two feet.) After the throw is well away --- going frame-by-frame you can see the disc passing the defender about 10 feet away --- his foot lazily drags around behind him until he is completely squared up and is facing downfield. If I'm looking at the right clip: can a reasonable person really interpret the "travel" rule to restrict what the thrower can do with his foot after the disc has left his hand? Or are people arguing that the rule should require the thrower to hold his pivot foot for some specified duration after the throw?

As for Jim's list of travels that really don't confer an advantage...well, yeah, coming up to an unmarked line and putting your foot a few inches too far forward or behind it is technically a travel, but that's not what I'm talking about on this thread, nor (I think) what others are discussing. We're talking about moving the pivot foot during or before the throw. I think it's always OK to call a travel if the thrower moves his pivot foot.


parinella said...

The key word in your post is "lazily", and it applies to the whole throwing motion, not just after the release.

While all or nearly all of the motion occurred after release, it's clear to me that this was just an accident, since the thrower never appears to care whether he keeps his pivot foot down. Try it yourself; if you try to keep the foot down, there is no way that it will move like this guy's did.

In a self-officiated sport, there is a covenant in which players have to try to play by the rules. Thus, when a player doesn't care about the rules, that makes him more fair game for having a violation called on him.

Bluffton Vidalia said...

With all due respect, I don't believe the concept of perceiving another’s level of effort is in this case a valid rational for action. It was a travel or it wasn’t?

parinella said...

While I might prefer to play in a game in which no one travels, the reality is that players will move their pivot feet some of the time. Given that, I do not want to play in a game in which each pivot foot movement is called a travel. Given that, we each have to decide how much to allow. While I would probably use items 1 and 2 (egregiousness and benefit) as my primary rationale for calling, it also irks me to no end to think that someone is getting away with either intentional or negligent traveling. If they care so little about playing by the rules that they don't even make an effort (as long as the level of the game declares that they must; I wouldn't apply this to summer league), I feel that they have forfeited their right to get away with "incidental" travels. "Incidental" = "Occurring or likely to occur as an unpredictable or minor accompaniment." In this case, the travel is not unpredictable, since the player does it every time, and it's not an accompaniment, since he does nothing to try to prevent it.

And if I felt that the player was doing it on purpose, thinking that it wouldn't be called, then I'd want him to be held to the absolute letter of the law.

Dylan said...

I think I'm too late in joining this discussion, but when I looked at the Furious/Sockeye clip mentioned by Sideline Engineer, I saw MG travel on the original huck, and figured that this was the violation to be discussed. Click through and you'll see his foot pop up for a frame, and then come back down (firmly, which is why I missed it in real time) but at least a foot away from the original position. It is a good example of a travel that aids the huck and little attempt is being made to avoid it.

Shanks travel is a violation, and reminds me of the petty call made when a player fails to place his/her foot properly, throws a completion and then gets called for the travel. Even though shank might, according to the rules, choose to throw from his right pivot foot, he is a well-known lefty who has never been known to switch a pivot foot for this kind of trickery. If the travel is to be called at all, it should have been done before the throw.


Bluffton Vidalia said...

Jim Said "While I might prefer to play in a game in which no one travels, the reality is..."

I would contend that this is a weakness in the rules. I understand the arguement (personally - I almost never called travels; although I would say that nearly everybody travels), but if we need to take the accountability away from the rules in order to play, the issue probably still needs to be addressed. I'm good with calling it a work in progress, but would prefer not to have to assume my opponents motivations as part of the rules.

Just my .002 - I respect your knowledge and appreciate the opportunity to post here.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Jim, now you've gone right 'round the bend. It's one thing to say that if the guy looks like he's not trying to obey the rules, he might, in fact, be called for a travel even if he doesn't travel. Maybe that's true. But now you're saying that that's OK! It's OK to call a travel on him, EVEN IF HE DOESN'T TRAVEL, if it doesn't look like he's trying to not travel.

I would hope that we would all agree that it is never acceptable to call a violation that has not occurred. I would hope that, but apparently it isn't true.

parinella said...

I think I was just saying that it's more likely (and a little more acceptable) that a minor travel will be called if the violator doesn't care.

Travels don't get called the instant that they happen, but are reactionary and so take a little bit of time (but not much) to process. Am I alone in feeling that a cheater (or negligent violator) is less deserving of a free pass on a minor violation, and that this might factor into the decision as to whether the violation was big enough to merit a call?

Sideline Engineer said...

I'm surprised by the reaction that the Cruickshank move didn't deserve to be called. I don't believe in calling a travel if someone plants their pivot a bit into the field. That doesn't affect the game. But Cruickshank throws a break that gets released way beyond the mark because his pivot was planted a full step into the field.

Let's assume the mark knows that Cruickshank is a lefty (almost certainly true), and that no trickery will be involved (I'd say this clip shows that's not a safe bet). The mark still needs to realize both of these, realize that the foot next to the line is not the pivot and set himself accordingly. Given how little the throw was contested, I don't think the mark realized these things. And given that the rules require the pivot on the line, this is a pointless train of thought.

Even if the mark does all this thinking and positions himself for a lefty's pivot, there's still a larger margin of error on the throw, because there's an extra yard of space to play with.

Right-handers don't set their right foot on the right hand sideline, I don't see why a lefty should do it on the left hand sideline.

Anonymous said...

Jim sez: "I think I was just saying that it's more likely (and a little more acceptable) that a minor travel will be called if the violator doesn't care."

I'm not sure what a "minor travel" would be. We're talking about a case in which a guy doesn't travel in the process of hucking for the score. You're saying it's OK to call a travel here, thus calling back the score (is that "minor?") even though the guy didn't travel, because it "doesn't look like he's trying", a criterion that is not in the rules and should not be in the rules.

I just don't see where you're coming from. I agree that in fact it may be more likely that a travel will be called in this situation, but I disagree that it is acceptable to call a travel if the thrower has not in fact travelled.

It's hard to believe you would argue the other side of this. Are you just yankin' my chain?


parinella said...

I'm trying to use this clip as an example of someone who isn't paying attention to the rules, not as one of someone who is egregiously traveling. Going frame-by-frame, I don't think that he traveled, but it's not clear to me at full speed, since he moves that back foot so much, much more than your typical traveler would move it. I'm not arguing that it's ok to call a guy for a travel in this situation, but I suspect that this fellow travels on most of his hucks in a callable fashion.

Anonymous said...

I have written a thesis on this topic. Maybe there is som interest for it, then I can send it. It is in English.

parinella said...

Anonymous, why don't you post your abstract here and a link to the paper (if you have one)? Then we can open up a new discussion if it's merited.

Anonymous said...

Hello mr Parinella.

I have seen that you seem to be interested in the traveling call. I have written a thesis on that topic. My angle to it is to see if experts are better to judge traveling than novices. If you are interested I can mejl you the thesis, couldnt find your e-mail adress.



Anonymous said...


Missed you request of the abstract. Here it comes.

Sport researchers have lately realised that perception is an important ability of the sport performer. In open sports, perceiving movement of the co-players and opponents is crucial. Biological motion, attention and decision-making are used as theoretical background in this thesis. It examines the differences between one
group of experienced ultimate players and a group of novices in their qualitative judgement of a complex movement in ultimate frisbee. In this experimental digitalvideo study a total of 162 subjects participated, 104 experts and 58 novices. Twelve pretest throws and 40 test throws were judged by the subjects. The result is
that experts are slightly better than novices. On the whole men excel though less among experts. The background to this can be that expert players don’t value this ability in comparison to other ultimate frisbee skills. The intriguing difference found between
pretest and test can have implications for this paradigm in the future.



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