When I see a jam I can instantly get a sense for how experienced the players are in that jam even before I see a trick attempted. How? By their formation. Most new players tend to stand in a circle while in a jam. As players become more experienced they will tend to jam in a line. So, here’s a hint for the new players who try to form a circle. It is much easier to be in a line, than in a circle. Here’s why.
Imagine you are playing catch with one other person. If one of you is up wind and the other is down wind, the person down wind will have a hard time. That is because the wind will cause the disc to fly faster and drop faster. The ideal position for a game of catch is cross wind. Then both players get equal float. Now image the jam. In a circle some players will always be down wind. In fact, I’ve noticed that the newer players tend to go down wind in the circle as they hesitate to move with everyone else. They don’t realize they are making their lives harder. All the throws going down wind will be harder to handle.
Then there’s the wind shadow problem. Players upwind will be blocking the wind flow from those downwind. So, the flight of the disc will be unpredictable making it much more difficult to complete a trick.
Then there’s the mob-ob. In other words, jams often consist of players passing the disc from one to the next. Just like throws, this most easily accomplished cross wind. In fact, if everyone in the line is facing the wind, one player can set the disc out into the wind and across the jam to another player. The disc will float right in for a catch, pull, brush, or roll.
Yes, the line is where it’s at in the jam. So what do you do as a new player? Well first realize that the most experienced players will naturally jam in a line. So don’t worry about making the other jammers uncomfortable. Now, when someone has the disc, get cross wind from them. Not to close, but not to far either. Just think of a good distance for a big Z throw. As that player moves, follow them so you stay crosswind. They may set it to you. Or they may catch. Now you are in a great position for a good throw. If they run fast into the wind, you have the option to follow them, or just hang back and wait for the next throw. Basically try to keep the line formation. If you get to far from where you started, go back and then be ready for down wind throw.
If there are many people in the jam, you don’t have to be directly next to the person with the disc. Instead just try to keep of the line formation. And note that often 2 – 4 people may go on a run. If you are part of it, stay in the line until a catch or drop. If not, stay back with the group, in line for the next throw.
Try this next time you jam. You will have more success when in a line vs being in a circle. Knowing where to be in the jam is a skill all it’s own. Please post other positional tips or questions in the comments below.