Ultimate is growing. There is no doubt about it; USAU even has statistics to prove it. Overall growth for the sport is excellent and competitive ultimate gets more competitive every year. RISE UP is set to debut on Monday. This will have a significant effect on the college game. In some regards, every team is about to get hand delivered what elite teams have had for years: superior strategy and a detailed explanation of how to do the little things correctly.
College programs such as Wisconsin, Carleton, Colorado, and 1980’s UCSB are the best examples of an elite program. The same can be said of recent teams such as Oregon, Florida, and to some extent Pittsburgh. These teams, especially the late Black Tide teams, held a strategic advantage that was passed down by older captains, coaches, and alumni. Those teams operated in a bubble. If you wanted to learn a better way of doing something, you had to learn from a better team, potentially while trying to beat them. Not an easy task. The internet gave away some of these top teams “proprietary information.”
While there has always been ultimate related material available online, there has never been material like this. Let’s take for example a small school, anywhere in the country, that’s hoping to turn into a more legitimate program. Previously, all that’s been available is whatever literature you could find scattered around the internet. Then, there were collaborated resources such as The Huddle and ultimate related blogs. Eventually, YouTube Stations and other video resources began to emerge. Now, there is RISE UP: Video-taped episodes devoted to coaching the game complied by some of the best in the business. What I’ve seen from just the ten minutes that have been released might revolutionize the college game.
What is about to be released is somewhat the equivalent of Derek Jeter teaching you how to fetch a ground ball, or Ray Allen teaching you how to shoot jumpers. Small programs can gather this winter and watch these video’s together and then repeat it at practice the next day. RU has taken, to some degree, the teaching out of elementary ultimate. And this is going to be fantastic for ultimate in the long run.
I can’t help but consider the effect that this is going to have on the college game. RISE UP is going to have the same effect on ultimate that Moneyball had on baseball. Information that was previously secret is going to be easily accessible by all. This is going to change the game. It’s not going to happen overnight, or even this season but, elite programs are going to lose their strategic edge.
Other question to ponder is how the elite “monopoly” teams are going to respond. If you’ve lost a strategic advantage, there are a couple different paths you could approach. The first and possibly easiest is to get better athletes; either through recruitment or better training outside of practices. Another option is to become more disciplined. A difference between the college and club game is skilled marks, along with better throwers and a better understanding of the importance of offensive spacing. The final option might be to become innovative, to experiment with new ideas; this will regain the strategic leverage teams are about to lose.
What’s actually going to happen? I have no idea, but it’s going to be exciting.
I always feel like a kid on Christmas morning when new jerseys arrive. Putting on a freshly printed jersey always makes me feel just a little bit cooler. I ordered my first set of jerseys eight years ago while playing on a High School team in New York City. Eight years and countless dollars later I am still ordering more, the only difference is that my parents no longer pay for them. As a cash-strapped college kid , this poses a problem. Thankfully, VC Ultimate is offering a solution.
VC is a well-known brand in ultimate circles. The Canadian company was founded in 1998 in order to create the highest quality apparel for players of all ages. Today, VC is a huge player in the ultimate market. Not only do they make some of the best apparel for the ultimate community, they also make it a point to help promote the sport. They do this by sponsoring teams, tournaments and green initiatives that help to make the sport more visible to everyone outside of the Ultimate community. Though these marketing and green initiatives are good for both the sport and the environment, it does drive the price of the product up.
Enter Printed Performance. “Printed Performance is a no-frills supplier of quality apparel to the Ultimate Market,” says Adriana Withers co-founder of VC and Printed Performance. Printed Performance offers all of the apparel and gear that Ultimate players wear for our sport, including jerseys, shorts, hats and warm-ups. “Our products are sourced from various suppliers and are not re-branded as Printed Performance gear, thereby keeping the prices rock bottom,” says Withers.
Printed Performance keeps prices low in a variety of ways. Most importantly it buys high quality gear from third-party vendors, this is very different from VC’s custom products, which are designed entirely in house.
“VC designs all of the gear that our awesome little rubber label logo goes on in-house. From style to fit to materials to construction… everything is under our control. We have two full time production people in our Toronto office making sure that VC products come in from our two manufacturers and out to our customers as best as possible every day. We’ve worked hard with our pattern maker and manufacturing head for years and years to make sure that our standards are met, and that we’re 100% proud to put our label on each item,” said Withers.
This approach to apparel has made VC a leader in the market because they only produce the highest quality clothing. Along with their marketing scheme and the increasing value of the Canadian dollar, it has gotten much more expensive to produce gear at a price that everyone can afford. Printed performance has a much simpler business plan than VC. “We are aiming to keep our marketing and operational expenses at practically zero so that we can offer great products really inexpensively,” says Withers.
This new approach has allowed printed performance to offer a ‘base’ short sleeve jersey for as little as $12.25 for teams. “You might see the same in-stock versions of the same shirt sold for $18-24 by some of our competitors,” says Withers. This savings is huge for anyone, but especially for summer leagues and youth leagues, who order hundreds of jerseys at a time.
So what exactly does Printed Performance offer? You can get screen printed or spot sublimation jerseys with numbers and names.
According to Withers price and timeline are two things that Printed Performance offers over its competition. “Our lack of overhead means we can offer you the best prices ever. If you’ve found a better price, we’d love a chance to match it – we’ll constantly work to find the best way to offer you the best deal possible.”
“Our iron-clad systems and network of screen printers and embroidery suppliers mean that we can get your orders in from trusted suppliers and out the door in about two weeks. Need it faster, just ask – we’ll also try our best to get you what you need, as ordered – on time,” said Withers.
VC and Printed Performance are two brands run by the same group of people. The two brands offer different products for different spectrums of the market. With VC you get their best offerings in Ultimate gear and customer service. With Printed Performance, customers still get that same customer service, but are able to get great gear for less money.
The redesigned Lookfly gloves for 2012.
Nearly two years ago, Skyd published our first review of the Lookfly Ultimate Gloves, a distinctive two-fingered design that has garnered positive feedback from Ultimate players all over the world, including our gear expert Adam Restad.
Lookfly’s glove evolution has been a constantly-improving process. The first version of Lookfly gloves were created in 2004, just a few years after Lookfly went into business. They were completely fingerless, but kept the same sticky-palm design that is featured today. In 2007, Lookfly added back three of the fingers and came up with a new logo design. Finally, at the end of August of this year, Lookfly released a redesigned, classier-looking glove just in time for the Fall season. I immediately got my hands in a pair to test them out.
In our last review, we highlighted the glove’s unique V-shaped grip pattern and thin construction. Let’s take a look at some of the new features:
Elastic Wristband and Velcro Catch
The velcro wristband is a slick addition in the new redesign.
Previous to this version, Lookfly gloves have always featured an open wristband with no way to adjust the tightness around the wrist, causing the gloves to sometimes come loose after a big layout. The new version features a slick adjustable band with a velcro catch, allowing the wearer to adjust the fit.
More Durable Construction
The new gloves feature more durable stitching and a second skin neoprene layer to keep the wearer warm in winter.
However, we are obliged to point out that these gloves still feature two main quality issues that were present in previous versions. First, the stitching on the cut-off fingers is prone to unraveling (on my version, after only two days of wear). However, this only affects the gloves aesthetically.
The second and more troubling quality issue is the seam between the thumb and the forefinger, which came apart on my version after a month of wear. The same seam also ripped on the old version of the gloves. I informed Lookfly about the issue and they acknowledged that they had identified this defect in the 2007 version of the gloves, it was supposed to be fixed by the manufacturer for the new version. Either the problem has recurred or I got a faulty pair. This quick wear seems to be heavily affected by the stress of releasing the disc – the rip occurred on my throwing hand glove. In any case, the rip in the seam does not make the gloves unwearable and I have continued to wear the gloves without any further issue.
Lookfly’s customer service in relation to this matter was commendable as well. They immediately offered to replace my gloves according to their return policy, which applies to all clients with damaged or defective goods.
Exposed fingers: not the coolest design in the world, but really helps the whole process along when you're urinating in the bushes before your first game.
Let’s face it: the reigning champions in glove design are the Club Ultimate gloves, made famous by Kurt Gibson, Tyler Degirolamo, and the Buzz Bullets. But the new style of the Lookfly gloves brings them at least another step closer. The new version features a redesigned green Lookfly logo that runs down the pinky finger, as well as a slick all-black design, ditching the blue highlighting of the 2007 version. The aforementioned wristband is also a nice touch. And while having the pointer and middle fingers exposed may not add style points, it does make it easier to throw flick hucks and tie shoelaces.
Despite all the new features, Lookfly still haven’t made the gloves any easier to wear as a hat, leaving me no choice but to assign them zero stars in the Hat category. The winner in this category continues to be the Spin Reach Adjustable Trucker Hat.
Ethically Responsible Manufacturing
I also quizzed Lookfly on their manufacturing practices. They commented: “Using an ethical manufacturers is very important to us. We manufacture using an ethically credited supplier in South Asia who look after their workforce. As we can’t reasonably get out there to visit them, they regularly send us their certifications, photos of working conditions and pictures of their workforce. We believe it is possible to design a product that represents value for money for the consumer and still treat everyone involved in its manufacture fairly.”
Although the redesigned gloves are slightly more expensive than the previous version, the lower price may just be the best selling point of the Lookfly gloves. The new gloves are currently available for £9.99 (~12.40€) until the end of October, when the price will go up. However, for buyers outside of the EU, Lookfly doesn’t charge tax, making the gloves a very respectable ~$13.14, which, when the ~$6.73 US shipping costs are factored in, gives the gloves a final price of ~$19.87.
For the main competitor, Club Ultimate, you’re looking at paying 26.50€ to get them from Gaia, or using a complicated drop-shipping method explained in this reddit post to get them for less, but with a lot more hassle.
A new entry to the market, Friction Gloves (Skyd Gear Watch Review), hover around the $25 price range, but are still more expensive than the Lookfly gloves, even with overseas shipping costs factored in.
The Lookfly glove is an affordable first option for players interested in improving their grip, especially in windy, wet, or cold conditions. Compared to its main competitors, Friction Gloves and Club Ultimate Gloves, the Lookfly gloves stand out with the exposed two-finger design, but may suffer from quality issues compared to the more expensive options.
The gloves can be purchased from Lookfly’s online store at a reduced price throughout the month of October.
Out of the spitting winters of the Northwest comes the first American company to distribute gloves for ultimate, Friction Gloves. Chris ‘Hanky’ Hancock of Portland Rhino has struck out to create the first US based ultimate glove company.
A long while ago I reviewed a pair of the Club Ultimate gloves offered by Jump + Reach in Germany. Friction Gloves sources from the same Japanese based supplier, Penguinace. Read on to find out what’s fresh and American about this new venture.
Friction Gloves have tack like the rosy palms of Spiderman himself. I could probably web sling and climb up a sky scraper with these on.
Hands down, my favorite part about these gloves is the consistency it brings to my throws. Warm weather. Cold weather. Wet weather. Whatever conditions that might be thrown at me, I feel confident in my grip with these on. No matter how much suntan lotion I just rubbed all over my teammate’s hairy back I know with the gloves on I can play the next point. My hands could be ice cold or sweating bullets like I’m asking a date out to the senior prom and the disc will always feel the same. Consistency in texture and feel is quite empowering. Rain may affect the glove grip slightly, but no more so than it would affect your bare hands.
The biggest asset Friction Gloves can give players is that they provide a more consistent grip in every condition. I feel that they can be used in any condition and give the player a competitive advantage.
- Chris Hancock, Friction Gloves Founder
I’ve been playing in this specific type of glove for over a year now and, despite the numerous, “Lose the gloves, jackass,” heckles, I’ve never felt like I dropped or threw an errant disc because them. Yes, I may be a crappy thrower to begin with but I project that the gloves are only serving to diminish that weakness. Players like Kurt Gibson of Doublewide, Seth Wiggins of Rhino, Xtehn Titcomb of Sockeye and the entire Japanese national team (Buzz Bullets) have worn the same accessories and they’re throwing just fine. “I remember playing against the Buzz Bullets at ECC and realizing that every player on the team was wearing gloves, in ideal conditions,” states Hancock.
Seth Wiggins of Portland Rhino gloves it up. (Photo by Jeff Bell - Ultiphotos.com)
Give yourself 10-15 minutes of throwing around before a game making sure to test out every throw in your ol’ throwbox and I guarantee you’ll feel confident on the field.
Still got to work on this aspect, Hanky. Friction Headwear could be huge.
This will mostly be a regurgitation of the review on the Club Jr. gloves, as they’re produced with the same materials by the same source supplier so I’ll keep this brief. Superb materials are used in the creation these. The grips are sticky but not weighted. They don’t feel like you’re playing with off road tires on your hands. The back of the hand is breathable, wicking, and light. Their construction is sound and professional.
Warmth! If you’re playing ultimate North of the 37th Parallel and you haven’t tried these gloves yet I have no pity for you, you disc dropping, ice-club-handed fool. Or, you have the internal temperature of a Scarlet Fever patient. These gloves will keep your hands degrees warmer and more dexterous than you think. Even in just slightly chilly conditions I have these on. Warm or cool, the material used regulates temperature like an Arizonan nursing home. Yes, your hands will get hot when you play in 80-90 degree heat, but your hands are going to be hot and sweaty anyway. Friction Gloves at least provides a second skin of protection between precious plastic and your disgusting, flop sweat hands.
Where Friction Gloves takes a step beyond the Club Jr. competition is that they have a Velcro wrist strap. My wrists are about the size of highlighter, maybe a bundle of toothpicks, so having something adjustable that I can cinch down just gives me one more level of control in how my hands feel during play.
The only way I feel my 4/5 rating for comfort and material could ever go up for gloves is if a product was designed this well, with materials as high end as Friction Gloves, but made with the express purpose of ultimate in mind.
I’ll admit, no glove you wear no matter how sleek or sporty it may be is ever going to look cool when you play ultimate. I don’t think any person playing ultimate while wearing gloves will ever get more than 3 stars out of 5 in terms of fashion. Our sport has nothing on the Ducks. (Go Ducks!) This is a fact I’ve come to realize as a glove wearing ultimate player.
Glove dissenters are going to heckle. Let them bark. But the bottom line is this: gloves make me a better player, especially in cold weather. So ask yourself, how cool is it to drop a disc in an in ice puddle midst the jeers of your teammates during the first round of Sunday games, then stick your muddy hands down the front of your shorts and sulk to the sideline? Or you could wear gloves. I suppose if you wear the gloves and drop the disc you probably should take up badminton, or curling or… Quidditch.
Plus, it’s really dramatic to get angry at a call on the field and spike not only your hat, but your left and right glove. That’ll really get your point across.
Definitely not a steal at $24.99, but these gloves are your best (and only) domestic option for our US patrons and well worth the cost.
There are cheaper ways to get similar gloves directly from the Japan based Penguince but trust me, the pain is probably not worth it. You have to order through a Japanese website (which is like navigating a hedge maze designed by Gaudi while someone injects you with Red Bull and seizure inducing drugs) then the gloves have to be shipped stateside through a Japanese to US freight forwarder. Through this entire process you’re bound to accidentally be signed up to 10 or 12 email promotion lists. I get more Japanese shopping spam mail in my inbox than an entire anime convention. And, I can’t figure out how to unsubscribe because all the emails are in F******** JAPANESE. Help me.
Friction Gloves are durable, but you’ll probably burn through a pair in about a year. Turns out laying out on turf isn’t just bad for your knees. Constant wear and use will rub down the grip on the fingers and palms losing that all precious tack.
Friction Glove Founder Chris Hankcock
Hancock also talks about expanding the line of his gloves and adding customization options for teams. “I hope to have different colored gloves and a larger variety of print colors in the future,” states Hancock. “I am also working on developing a team order system so that teams can have custom Friction Gloves with their logo on them. I believe that team printing will be a big hit one day.” Perhaps group ordering will drive down the price in the future.
From one glove user to a future glove user: these gloves are quality. I’ll probably never play competitive ultimate without them again.
For more updates on Friction Gloves be sure to check out their Facebook page.