The Aim of the Game
Ultimate is a non-contact, self-refereed team sport played with a flying disc (or Frisbee).
Two teams of seven players compete on a playing field about the same length as a football field, but narrower. At each end of the playing field there is an end zone. Each team defends one endzone. They score a goal if one of their players catches the disc in the opposite end zone.
The player with the disc is called the thrower. The thrower may not run with the disc. Instead they move the disc by passing to team-mates in any direction.
The defensive team gets possession of the disc if an offensive team’s throw is not caught by a player of the same team. Then the defensive team becomes the offensive team and can try to score in the opposite end zone.
Spirit of the Game
Ultimate relies upon a Spirit of the Game that places the responsibility for fair play on every player. There are no referees; the players are solely responsible for following and enforcing the rules, even at World Championship. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.
This sheet provides an outline of the rules only. If you want to participate in official competitions, you should become familiar with the official WFDF rules, which you can find on the WFDF website. In addition, experienced players will gladly teach players the rules and good spirit, so don’t be scared to ask.
- The Pull
- In-bounds and out-of-bounds
- No running with the disc
- The 10-second rule
- Fouls, Violations and Infractions
- Making a Call
- Substitution of players
Each point starts with a throw-off from the goal line (“pull”). All players must remain in their end zone until the pull is thrown. At the start of the game a toss decides which team throws the first pull.
After a goal is scored, play stops. The team that scored stays in that end zone and throws the pull and becomes the defensive team. So, teams change their direction of attack after each point.
If the pull lands outside the playing field the thrower can either start play from the side line where the disc left the field, or from the “brick” mark closest to their end zone. The thrower indicates they are choosing the brick option by raising their hand and calling “brick”.
In-bounds and out-of-bounds
A disc is in-bounds when the receiving player is inside the playing field when they catch the disc. If you catch the disc after jumping in the air, your first point of contact must land inside the field. The side lines are not part of the playing field. If you catch the disc in-bounds, and then momentum takes you out-of-bounds, you must return to where you left the field before you can throw the disc.
You are allowed to throw the disc so that it flies outside the playing field and then comes back in, as long as it does not touch anything out-of-bounds and is caught inside the field.
If the disc goes out-of-bounds, it is a turnover. It does not matter which team last touched the disc. Play continues from the spot where the disc left the field.
No running with the disc
You are not allowed to run while you have possession of the disc (“travel”). After catching the disc while running, you must stop as quickly as possible. Once you stop, you must keep one foot still, but you are allowed to move the other foot: this is called pivoting.
The 10-second rule
The thrower has 10 seconds to throw the disc. A defender can stand in front of you (remember: no contact!) and count aloud to ten in one second intervals. If the disc is still in your hand at the “t” of “ten”, the other team gets possession of the disc.
The defensive team takes possession of the disc (a “turnover”) if the offence fails to catch a pass, if they catch it out-of-bounds, or if it is intercepted or knocked down by a defensive player.
Turnovers also occur when:
- the marker reaches “ten” before the disc was thrown
- the disc is handed from one player to another without being thrown
- the thrower catches their own throw without the disc being touched by anyone else
- the offensive team tries to catch the pull, but drops it
After an in-bounds turnover the other team may immediately resume play at the point where the disc was caught or stopped.
Fouls, Violations and Infractions
- Ultimate is a non-contact sport. Physical contact should always be avoided.
- Contact that is dangerous or affects the outcome of the play is a Foul.
- The thrower may not be defended by more than one player at the same time (“double team”).
- The marker may not come closer than one disc diameter to the thrower (“disc space”).
- The marker may not hit or grab the disc out of the hand of the thrower. They may however try to block the disc with their hands or feet after it is thrown.
- If opposing players catch the disc at the same time, the offensive player gets possession of the disc.
- Players are not allowed to create shepherds, picks or screens to obstruct the path of defensive players (“pick”).
Making a Call
If you believe you have been fouled by an opposing player, you can call “foul”. If the disc is in the air play continues until possession is established (a catch or a turnover). If your team gets possession, then play continues, otherwise, play stops immediately.
After play stops, you explain what the foul was and discuss this with the other player involved. If the opponent disagrees that there was a foul, they may call “contest” and the disc is returned to the previous thrower. If they agree that there was a foul, they call “uncontested” and, generally, you take possession of the disc. Play is resumed with a “check”: the marker touches the disc in the thrower’s hand and calls “disc in”.
You score a goal if you catch the disc in the endzone that you are attacking. If you are in the air, your first point of contact must be in the endzone. If your foot touches the goal line it is not a goal. After a goal, play stops and teams swap which end zone they are defending. The first team to 15 goals wins, with a time cap of 90 minutes, but this can change depending on the level of play.
Substitution of players
After each point you may substitute as many players as you want. During a point a player may only be substituted due to an injury. After an injury, play stops and the other team may also substitute a player, if they wish.