Picks 101

What is a Pick? A pick occurs whenever a defensive player’s path to reaching the offensive player he is marking is obstructed in any way. Most of the time, the obstruction is inadvertent, when another player happens to be standing (or running through) your path, forcing you to adjust your path when trying to reach the offensive player.

Unlike sports like Basketball or Football, a Pick in Ultimate is actually a violation. So if you are on Defense, and someone comes between you and the player you are marking, you should loudly call “pick” right away. Note, you must be within 10ft (3 meters) of the player you are defending in order to call a pick.

The confusion, however, lies in what happens after a pick is called…

If a pick is called and the disc is in a throwers hands, and the thrower acknowledges the pick:

  • stall count stops and continues at the last number stated+1 (or 6 if the count was over 5)
  • everyone resets to where they were when the pick was called
  • picked player regains relative position

If a pick is called, and the disc is in the throwers hands, but the thrower acknowledges it late:

  • stall count stops and returns to the last number stated before the pick was called+1 (or 6 if the count was over 5)
  • everyone resets to where they were when the pick was called
  • picked player regains relative position

If a pick is called and the disc is already in the air, the result of the play is as follows:

  • if the pass is dropped, then it’s a turnover, pick call is irrelevant.
  • if the pass is caught and the pick did NOT affect the play
    • the disc stays with the receiver
    • everyone resets to where they were when the pass was completed
    • picked player regains relative position.
  • if the pass is caught and the pick affected the play:
    • throw goes back
    • everyone resets to where they were when the throw was made
    • picked player regains relative position.

If a pick is called and the disc is in the throwers hands, but the thrower does not hear/acknowledge the call and still makes a throw, then the result is the same as of the pick was called while the disc was in the air, with one slight exception:

  • if the pass is caught and the pick “affected the play”
    • throw goes back
    • everyone resets to where they were when the call was made
    • picked player regains relative position

Regardless, the play stops after the current/imminent throw is made, and not after the one that follows. Which is to say, if a pick is called when the disc is in the air, only the result of that pass matters – no matter what, play stops at the outcome of that pass. And if the pick is called before the thrower acknowledges and the thrower still makes the throw, then only that throw continues, and no matter the result after, play stops. If another throw is made after the initial/imminent throw, the result is entirely irrelevant.

In all cases, the picked player is regaining only their relative position. Which means, if they were 9 ft behind the offensive player, they can’t all of a sudden position themselves in front of the offensive player after calling the pick — they must ‘regain’ until they are again 9 ft behind the offensive player.

Lastly, can you contest a pick? The answer is, yes, you can contest a pick. However, unless your ‘contest’ causes the player who called the pick to retract their call, the outcome of a ‘contested pick’ is the same as that of an ‘uncontested pick’. Play stops, everyone resets, and picked player regains relative position.

The most frequent reason to contest a pick is if the player who makes the call was not within 10 ft (3 meters) of the player they were defending. Otherwise, it’s really difficult to disagree that another player was obstructing the path to get to you.

If you want to look up the full text of the rules, you can find the 11th edition rules on picks.