Durango Boot: the ultimate 3-on-3 game

Last month during the final day of the Disc NW Masters Hat league, Andy McRea of the Whidbey Flyers introduced me to a GREAT disc game called “Durango Boot” (or just “boot” or “Durango”).  It turns out it has wonderful potential for youth players, primarily because it demands that you maintain awareness of the whole field all the time — a skill that is elusive for most beginners and seems to only come slowly with experience.

Our Masters team had a huge roster, so none of us were getting much playing time during our first game.  Andy threw up his hands and declared “I haven’t even broken a sweat.  Who wants to play boot?”  I raised my hand, but had no idea what a workout I was in for…  Here’s a video that captured the craziness that ensued —

Not many players were familiar with the game (including me), but it turns out the game has it’s own website — Durango Ultimate.  In the simplified form that Andy taught us (and that the Aussies are playing in the video), you place two cones (or better yet boots) a few meters apart near each end of your playing space, mark center field with 2 more cones, and proceed to pass among your teammates trying to knock over a goal cone with a scoring throw.  A huge novelty is that you can head for the goal at either end of the field, and switch your goal at any time!  Another key rule is that on a turnover (upon interception, stall count to six by any defender, ground contact, or a score), the team gaining possession must first complete one pass that crosses the center line.

Though different than the official version, Andy really increased the pace by reversing the normal rule that a score results in a turnover.  Instead the offense that just scored stayed on offense (but still had to “take back” the disc by passing it once over the center line before attempting to score again).  This may be known as the Albuquerque Variation.

In addition to improving full-field awareness, Boot could be useful in the context of youth ultimate in at least these ways:

  • if you have too few players at practice for 5-on-5 or 7-on-7;
  • if you want even more continuous play than ultimate (there is no dawdling around or resting in preparation for the next pull);
  • if you’re tired of playing box;
  • if you want a lot of practice making quick, accurate passes, particularly in the 2-on-1 offensive strategy that is recommended as a basic approach;
  • if you want an early, organic introduction to how a zone defense can be a successful strategy.




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