Durango Boot

The flow of Boot is much like Ultimate, but even more fluid with no stoppage of play, even after scores. There’s full-on running, lots of give-and-go action, smooth zone defenses, and the whole globe is your playing field. It’s very competitive and we have yet to master the game after years of play.


The first time we ever played the game was on a snowy day in January. We had all arrived in snow boots, but none of us had any cones so we used our boots to mark the field. Hence the name: Boot. (Editor’s Note: “Durango” has been added to the name of the game because it was first played and developed in Durango, Colorado.)


Refer to the accompanying diagram for the basic configuration and dimensions. As in Ultimate, the field can easily be altered to fit the space available. Eight cones are used to define the field. Four cones (star dots) are the goals. If your team hits one with the disc, you score. The other four cones (black dots) are used to mark the ‘take-back” zone, which is actually a belt that extends all the way around the world. There is no out of bounds.


The object is simply to hit any of the 4 score cones (star dots) with the thrown disc.  The disc must be released — no slam dunks.

If the cone is hit by a throw from within the zone in front of the “take-back” zone, it counts as 1 point.  If the cone is hit by a throw from within the “take-back” cones, it counts as 2 points.  If the cone is hit by a throw from beyond of the “take-back” cones, it counts as 3 points.  See diagram for examples of throws.

Games are generally played to 3 points.  Win by one point.  Best 2 out of 3 games.


Each team fields 3 players.  A disc is flipped at midfield, heads or tails is called, and the winner of the flip immediately picks up the disc and takes the offensive.  They then work the disc trying to get into position to hit one of the score cones.  As in Ultimate, if they fail to complete a pass or if the stall count is reached, it’s a turnover.  The stall count only goes up to 6 and may be counted by any defensive player no matter where on the field he is.  No one needs to mark the thrower.

On a turnover, the defensive team immediately becomes the offensive team, but before they can score, the disc must pass through at least part of the “take-back” zone.  This is done by throwing the disc to someone in the “take-back” zone or on the other side of it.  If the disc is lying in the “take-back” zone after a turnover, there’s no need to take it back.

After a score, the defensive team immediately becomes the offensive team, just like after a turnover.  The only difference is that before they can begin play any cones that were knocked over must be reset.  There are no “pulls”.

Most of the normal rules of Ultimate apply, e.g. fouls, traveling, etc.  However, we generally avoid making calls unless they’re very blatant.


Both offense and defense require an amazing amount of strategy.  It’s a very heady game.  Below is the very basic strategy, but there’s lots more to learn as you play.

The basic offensive strategy is to create 2-on-1′s and then take advantage of them with very quick give-and-go’s.  Because there is only one defender trying to defend two cones, one cone will be open.  However, if the 2-on-1 becomes a 2-on-2 because the middle defender hustles back, that end of the field should be abandoned and you should try to create a 2-on-1 to the other end of the field.  It’s almost impossible to score on 2 defenders because they can each defend one cone.  Under no circumstances should you bring in the third offensive player to help because when you turn the disc over (either by a turnover or a score), you’ll have no one back to defend the cones at the other end of the field.

A zone defense is the most effective defense.  One player acts as goalie at each end and one person plays the “take-back” zone.  The main objective is to stop the 2-on-1 and that’s primarily the responsibility of the middle defender.  Once two offensive players start moving the disc towards one end, the middle defender needs to move with them to help out his goalie, but he has to be careful not to overcommit or the offense will reverse direction and have a 2-on-1 in the other direction.

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