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General Play

While throwing and catching are key skills, knowledge of the game is equally important as well. In this article you’ll find out how to play, score and the common faults in Ultimate Frisbee.

If you’re new to Ultimate, it might surprise you to know that it is one of the rare sports that does not require a referee and is self-officiated. Many of the game’s rules are determined by ‘The Spirit of The Game’ and heavily rely on sportsmanship.

Getting a game of Ultimate Frisbee going is pretty straightforward. All you need is a decent sized field approximately 64 metres by 37 metres with end zones 23 metres deep, a frisbee, some cones to mark out the playing area as well as a minimum of seven players per team.  

In terms of game play, the disc may be thrown in any direction, however, players may not run with the disc and when in possession of it, have 10 seconds to throw it.  As there are no referees, the defender guarding the thrower calls out the countdown.

Possession changes when an intended pass is not completed. For example, the pass is blocked, intercepted, dropped, goes out of bounds or is not made after the 10 seconds countdown is completed. Change of possession results in the game continuing where the disc lies with the defensive side now taking over on offense.

In terms of starting a game or restarts after a score, each point begins with both teams lining up in front of their own end zones and the defending side throwing the disc to the offense. This throw is known as the “pull”.

  • All you need to do to score a point in Ultimate Frisbee is to catch the disc in the opponent’s end zone.
  • If you catch the disc in mid-air, make sure your first point of contact lands in the end zone. However, if your foot touches the goal line when you catch the disc, it is not counted as a goal.
  • After a point is scored, play stops and teams switch the end zones that they were defending.
  • The first team to score 15 goals, in a time capped of 90 minutes will win the game. However, this rule can change depending on the level and intensity of play or as agreed upon by both captains.

Fouls and Infractions
  • Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport hence physical contact should always be avoided as much as possible.
  • Physical contact that is ruled dangerous or affecting the outcome of a play is considered a foul.
  • Double-teaming is not allowed. More than one marker/defender may not guard the thrower or catcher and match-ups are to be kept to a one-on-one basis.
  • Players must observe disc space. The marker/defender may not come closer than a diameter of a disc to the thrower.
  • The marker/defender is not allowed to hit or grab the disc out of the hands of the thrower. They can try to block the disc with their hands or feet and attempt an intercept after the disc is thrown.
  • If members of the opposing team catch the disc at the same time, the possession of the disc will go to the attacking team.
  • Players are not allowed to shepherd, or create picks and screens to obstruct the path of players from the defending team.
Making a Call
  • If you believe that an opposing player has committed a foul, you can make a call to report it. Play doesn’t stop when the disc is still in mid-air, but only when a team is in possession of the disc. When the game stops, the person reporting the foul will explain it to the fouling player involved.
  • If the fouling party disagrees that there was a foul, a “contest” may be called and the previous play is re-played.
  • If the foul is agreed, both players involved in the incident will call “uncontested” and the reporting player gets the disc.
  • Play is resumed with a “check”: the marker touches the disc in the thrower’s hand and calls “disc in”.

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