Spring Reign

Event Type
Team Tournament
Event Start
Event End
Burlington, WA

Spirit of the Game


Spirit of the Game is very similar to the concept of sportspersonship, which is encouraged in all youth athletics. However, this tenet is especially important in the sport of Ultimate, since Ultimate is a self-refereed game at all levels - from elementary school to elite adult play. Since there are no officials, it is up to the athletes, parents, and coaches themselves to follow the rules and treat one another respectfully. The joy of competition and camaraderie on the field should be the primary focus, and teams (including coaches and parents) must be careful to avoid the desire to win at all costs.


Please continue reading or click on a topic for tips, guidelines, Spring Reign customs, and resources related to Spirit of the Game.


Spring Reign Customs

  • At Spring Reign, it is customary to shake hands, offer a cheer, and present a small gift to opponents after each game.
  • DiscNW provides each team with three mini discs; after each game on Saturday, teams choose one player from their opponent's team to receive this Spirit award. 
  • DiscNW asks teams to report Spirit of the Game scores for all of their opponents on Saturday.  We use spirit averages to make decisions about next year's Spring Reign bids.  We also award a Spirit prize to the most spirited team in each pool, based on averages from Saturday.  Score reporting is required to claim team dinner on Saturday evening.
  • For various logistical reasons, DiscNW has not traditionally collected Spirit scores or provided Spirit gifts for Sunday's games.  However, Spirit of the Game is of the utmost importance during bracket play.  We request that teams implement their own initiatives to ensure that Spirit of the Game is at its highest during Sunday play.

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Examples of Good Spirit

These are examples drawn from the Spirit scoresheets of previous Spring Reign tournaments, and from staff observations at Spring Reign and other DiscNW events. It is not an all-inclusive list.  We encourage teams to be creative in coming up with ways to make competition fun and fair.

  • All players and coaches being familiar with the general tourney rules and the most common ultimate rules. Willing to refer to the rulebook to look up more obsure rules or if there are disagreements on the field.
  • Sporting a team theme or costume.
  • Giving gifts or snacks to opponents.
  • Writing custom songs for opponents.
  • Playing a Spirit game with opponents after the ultimate competition.
  • Parents cheering positively for their own team and avoiding negative comments to or about opponents.
  • Complementing or encouraging opponents.
  • Treating teammates respectfully.
  • Engaging in a post-game Spirit circle.
  • Giving opponents a Spirit tunnel.
  • Playing hard and making inspirational but safe plays.
  • Coaches introducing themselves to opposing coaches before the game.
  • Being flexible and cooperative, within reason.

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Examples of Spirit Violations

These are examples drawn from the Spirit scoresheets of previous Spring Reign tournaments, and from staff observations at Spring Reign and other DiscNW events. It is not an all-inclusive list.  When in doubt, treat others as you would like to be treated.

  • Breaking game rules or general tourney rules (e.g., roster minimum, single-roster, or eligibility rules) - either intentionally or unintentionally. 
  • Suggesting that an opponent is not spirited if it refuses to offer your team an exception to tourney or game rules.
  • Profanity or name-calling on the field or in cheers.
  • Spiking the disc, over-celebrating, or mocking/taunting opponents.
  • Verbal or physical fighting - either between opponents or teammates.
  • Coaches making calls for their players, or inserting their own opinions in discussions about calls.
  • Parents yelling at opposing teams' coaches or players.
  • Parents, sideline players, coaches, or equipment encroaching on the field of play.
  • Arguing excessively over a call.
  • Rude body language, heated communications, or confrontational behavior.
  • Rough, physically aggressive, or dangerous play.
  • No actively involved adult coach or chaperon.
  • Refusing a basic cheer or handshakes after competition.
  • Delaying the game or wasting time.
  • Stealing merchandise or others' belongings.

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Spring Reign SoTG Investigations and Enforcement

  • A Tournament Director will make every effort to speak with A) both opponents involved, and B) nearby witnesses to determine what happened.
  • The Tournament Director will work with the persons involved to ensure that all efforts have been taken to encourage future positive interactions between the teams or individuals involved.
  • A committee of at least two Tournament Directors will determine if a penalty is warranted.  The committee will consider the severity of the event and the cooperation of the teams or individuals involved.  Here are examples of penalties:
    • Forfeiture of a game or series of games at Spring Reign.
    • Banishment of the individual(s) involved or, in extreme cases, the full team of the individual(s) involved, from the current Spring Reign tournament. 
    • Disqualification of the individual(s) or team(s) for future DiscNW events.

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Learning and Teaching Spirit of the Game

Here are some ideas and resources for coaches to address Spirit of the Gamewith their teams:

  • Familiarize yourself with the USA Ultimate Spirit of Coaching guidelines so that you are aware of the unique responsibilities you hold as a coach of a self-officiated sport.

  • Talk with your players and parents regularly about Spirit of the Game and its importance in the sport of Ultimate. We suggest using the "Ten Things You Should Know About Spirit of the Game" outlined by USA Ultimate.

  • Dedicate a section of each practice to learning rules. Introduce a scenario to players and talk as a group about how to react in such a situation. Coaches can find many scenarios and ideas at the USA Ultimate Rules Resources webpage, or you can review scenarios that came up in your last game or practice.

  • Encourage your players to participate in the assignment of spirit scores. Oftentimes, the coach perspective is far different from athletes' perspective. Ask your players after the game to discuss the game and to identify the positive and negative behaviors they observed that might affect the Spirit ranking of the opposing team.  If the players' assessment seems overly harsh, problem-solve aloud to help them come to a more appropriate ranking.  These conversations can help them to think critically about how they themselves display Spirit of the Game on the field.

  • Demonstrate Positive Communication Skills and Facilitate Conflict Resolution When Problems Occur. If a coach feels that a game was especially heated or that there were hard feelings on the field, we encourage you to approach your opposing coach after the game to patch things up. We encourage prompt and direct discussion about the conflict in order to improve future interactions between the two teams. Tournament Directors are available to moderate a discussion or offer advice on how to approach an opponent if that is desired. If the Spirit infraction involved players, we strongly encourage a Spirit circle after the game. In a Spirit circle, players stand in a huddle, alternating players from each team, and each player has an opportunity to identify something positive that (s)he saw from the other team.

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