Ultimate / Flying Disc is a non-contact, self-refereed sport.
- Never run with the disc!
- Score by catching the disc in the opposite end-zone.
- When the disc lands out of bounds, touches the ground or is caught or knocked down by an opponent player, it’s a turnover – the other team gets the disc.
- Avoid any body contact! Even hitting the disc out of the hand of another player is a foul.
The Goal / how to score
A team scores, when a player catches the disc within the (opposite) End Zone (without dropping it).
End of the Game
A game ends when one team first reaches the game total (standard game total = 15 points / half time = 8 points).
There are 2 teams playing against each other. Each team consists of 7 players (5 players at indoors, beach, turf or small fields) on the field and several substitute players. Substitutions (of players) can only be made AFTER a goal is scored and before the team signals readiness for the “Pull” (the kick-off for the next round). There is no limit to the number of substitutions during a game. (Professional teams often exchange all 7 field players after every goal.) Injured players may be replaced immediately. Our CMU rule for substitutions: If you are currently on the sideline and want to play, just walk onto the field to your start-line (end zone) AFTER any score/goal/point. The first 7 players on the line can play the next round. For all players currently on the field, please be aware of other players coming onto the field and make space (leave the field for 1 incoming player) – be fair and let everyone have a chance to play. Hint: play and run hard, so you will appreciate taking a break.
- Both teams line up inside the end zone (at the line to the middle field or central zone).
- The defense team will hold the disc until the pull. That defense team will choose a set up for the defense (often man-on-man, so every player chooses a player from the opposite team to defend that very person during the next round).
- Both teams may briefly communicate about tactics, defense, handling, etc. When ready, the defense player holding the disc is lifting his arm (with the disc).
- The attacking team also has to show readiness by one or more players lifting an arm up in the air.
- Every round starts with a “pull” by the defense team. One player of the defense team “pulls” (throws) the disc (usually as high and far as possible) towards the offense team – optimally into their end zone but not out of bounds (side ways or behind the end zone).
- As soon as the disc has left the throwers hand, both teams can run out of their end zone and move across the whole field.
- Any player from the offense team can either catch the disc out of the air or let it drop and pick it up. Caution: If the player drops the disc, it’s an immediate “turnover”: the other team gets the disc and can continue from the spot it has been dropped, probably in or very close to the end zone to score!
- If the disc lands out of bounds (not when landing in and rolling out!) the player picking up the disc can decide if he/she starts playing from the point at the side-line where the disc exited or from the “brick” mark (in the middle of the field about 1 end-zone-length from the starting line). If so, that decision must be announced by clapping your hand together over your head and/or calling “brick“.
- No one is allowed to run or walk with the disc!!!
- As soon as the disc is caught, the player has to stop running as quickly as possible (about 3 steps are generally accepted). All other players can keep running or moving around of course.
- The player with the disc is only allowed to “Pivot”! That means, one foot MUST have contact to the ground at all times until the disc is thrown, but the player can pivot with the other foot in a circle around that spot (the pivot-foot).
- The defense player “marker” closest to the thrower (no more than 3 meters away) can “stall count” – loud enough for the thrower to hear – from 1 to 10 (seconds). The throw must be made before the the first sound of the word “ten” is articulated. If the disc has not left the throwers hand in time, it’s a “turn over” and the other team gets the disc.
- The disc can be thrown in any direction to any player.
- There is no offside position.
- After a “turnover”, there is a short stoppage of the game. The defense team now becomes offense and vice versa. Any player (from the new offense team) can pick up the disc and start playing immediately.
- Turnovers result when
- a pass is incomplete (not caught by a team member or dropped after catching).
- the disc touches the ground while not in stable possession of the offense team.
- the disc has been thrown out of bounds (except for pulls).
- a defense player catches the disc.
- the thrower catches his own disc without anyone else touching the disc before.
- the “marker” reaches stall-count 10 before the throw is released.
- If a turnover happens in the end zone, no matter if the disc has been caught by the defense or not, the disc can be brought straight up to the starting line of the end zone, the play continues from there.
- Ultimate is a non-contact sport. Direct body contact should be avoided at all times for the safety of all players. Although minor contact with no effect to the opponent player (or the throw of the disc) as well as contact after a throw is usually not considered a foul.
- Any actions deemed reckless disregard for the safety of fellow players though that may pose a risk of injury as well as any other dangerously aggressive behavior, are considered “dangerous play” and must be treated as a foul, regardless of whether or when contact occurs.
- Running or jumping into other players, running without looking when it is likely that there might be other players occupying the space already or simultaneously running into it, wild or uncontrolled throwing motions, initiating contact with a player’s head, jumping right in front of running opponents, … all these actions are considered “dangerous play” and can be treated as a foul!
Consequence of a foul call
- The fouled player (if not contested) gains possession at the location of the breach and starts the play with a check (either letting the closest defense player tap the disc or by tapping the disc on the ground if there is no defense player close enough).
- If the foul call is contested (by the involved opponent player) and both players can not agree on the issue, the disc goes back to the last player in possession (before the foul call was made).
Typical foul calls
- “Receiving Foul” – when a player initiates non-minor contact with an opponent before, while, or directly after, either player makes a play on the disc. (Contact with an opponent’s arms or hands, that occurs after the disc has been caught, or after the opponent can no longer make a play on the disc, should be avoided but is not a sufficient basis for a foul.)
- “Strip” – If a player is already in possession of the disc (the disc has been caught and stopped spinning) but drops the disc caused by an opponent (defense) player. If a strip foul prevented a direct score (e.g. occurs in the end zone) a goal is awarded.
- “Blocking Foul” – when a defense player takes position or moves in a manner that the opponent will be unable to avoid. This one is quite tricky – feel free to ask more experienced players for details.
- “Offensive Throwing Foul” – when the thrower is solely responsible for initiating non-minor contact with a defensive player who is in a legal position.
- “Indirect Foul” – when there is non-minor contact between a receiver and a defensive player that does not directly affect an attempt to make a play on the disc.
- “Offsetting Foul” – If there is non–minor contact – before the disc has been caught – that is caused by two or more opposing players moving towards a single point simultaneously. In this case the disc goes back to the last player in possession (before the foul call was made).
- “Fast Count” – the marker counts (1-10) in less than one second intervals.
- “Disc Space” – any part of a defensive player is less than one disc diameter away from the torso of the thrower. However, if this situation is caused solely by movement of the thrower, it is not an infraction.
- “Wrapping” – a line between a defensive player’s hands or arms comes within one disc diameter of the thrower’s torso, or any part of the defensive player’s body is above the thrower’s pivot point. However, if this situation is caused solely by movement of the thrower, it is not an infraction.
- “Double Team” – a defensive player other than the marker is within 3 meters of the thrower’s pivot point (without guarding another offensive player). However, running across this area is not a double team.
- “Vision” – a defensive player uses any part of their body to intentionally obstruct the thrower’s vision.
- “Travel” – there are many situations that can cause a travel call and they are sometimes quite tricky in detail. Most simplified, a travel call can be made
- when a player, after catching the disc, does not reduce speed as quickly as possible, or changes direction before establishing a pivot point.
- a pivot point has not been established correctly or at the correct spot.
- the thrower fails to keep the established pivot point until releasing the disc (e.g. lifting the pivot foot even slightly!).
- “Pick” – this might well be the most occurring violation call during a game – picks simply do happen very often and easily.
- A pick call can be made by any defensive player if an offensive player moves in a manner that causes a defensive player to be obstructed by any player. It makes no difference if the obstruction results from contact, or avoiding contact with any other player.
- A pick call shall not be made later than 2 seconds after the pick happened.
- After a pick call EVERYONE on the field has to immediately stop moving (or go back to the spot the player was when the call was made).
- The obstructed player is allowed to catch up to the position he/she would be if the obstruction would not have occurred.
- To avoid potentially following picks, players are allowed to slightly correct their position.
Explanation: In Ultimate games players often run across the field looking up in the sky. Therefore, to avoid collisions and injuries, all players should behave and run responsibly. In this case offensive players, knowing that a defensive player is following closely, shall run in a manner that does not likely lead to accidents.
Referee / decision making
Ultimate / Flying Disc is a self-refereed sport. There is NO referee but the players themselves. It is expected from every player to play and act fair. If for example a player gets fouled, this player can call “foul”. The opponent player can either accept that decision or “contest” it. There can be a short dispute to clear details, but the should not be any discussion on the field. If those two players do not agree, the disc will simply go back to the last (undisputed) thrower. No hard feelings.
Most important rules of all
- Spirit of the Game – play fair, be friendly and respectful to all fellow players.
- Have fun and let others have fun!
Check out the complete and detailed Ultimate rules on:
Detailed rules of Ultimate by the WFDF 2021-2024 (PDF download)