How to play Ultimate

Outdoor field
Outdoor field

Ultimate is played on a field with two end zones with a neutral zone between them. A field consists of two end zones separated by a neutral zone. The size of the field can be scaled for the number of players. The team that first reaches a set number of goals, or have the more goals when the time expires wins the game.

A point starts with each team standing in their own end zone. The team that starts in defense throws the disk towards the team that starts in offence. One of the players on the attacking team catches the disc or picks it up where it lands, and starts the attack from there.

To score a point the attacking team must catch and hold the disk in the opponents end zone but
* you can not run while holding the disc and
* the one that has the disc has 10 seconds to pass it to a team mate and
* no one on the attacking team can on purpose get in the way of where a defender wants to run and
* you are not allowed to push a defender out of the way.

The defending team needs to prevent the attackers from completing a pass. They can do this by
* preventing the person that holds the disc from passing it within ten seconds or
* make sure that the disc hits the ground or
* catch the disc while it is in the air or
* make sure that the disc goes out of bounds.
When this happens there is a turnover, and the defenders become the attackers, the attackers become the defenders, and the attack goes towards the other end zone.

However the defenders are not allowed to
* hit the disc out of the hands of a person that is holding it or
* hit the player that is holding the disc, also when they are throwing it or
* hold your hands around the person with the disc
* use more than one player to mark the person with the disc or
* on purpose get in the way of a running attacker unless you’re also running to catch the disc.

This is a self-refereed sport. This means that the players referee themselves. If a player thinks that another player has broken the rules they call “Foul!”. The other player may then agree that yes, they did break the rules, or they may contest the call. If the players are not able to agree on whether or not it was a foul, the disc goes back to the last uncontested thrower. This requires honesty and respect from all players. The spirit of the game is what sets Ultimate aside from all other sports!

When on offence there are a few things that are smart to think about. It is a good thing
* not to stand too close to the person with the disc. This makes it easy for the defenders to get in the way of passes, and one person can defend more than one player.
* for the people that don’t have the disc to stand in a line (stack), with some space between the players, either across or down the field. This will open up room where you can lose your defender.
* to run one at a time to avoid chaos on the field. If you don’t get the disc, get back to the stack.

When in defense it can be smart to
* choose the person you’re going to defend before the point starts
* agree on which side of the field you want to force the attackers to throw to. You do this by the person marking the player with the disc placing themselves in the way of the side where you don’t want the disc to be thrown. The remaining defenders can then place themselves on the open side.

But the MOST IMPORTANT THING to remember is that EVERYBODY that plays should have fun! After a game you give your opponents grades in sportsmanship and how well they knew and followed the rules.

If you want to know more about Ultimate, find a practice to join. You can also see the WFDF pages for more information.


Written by Terje Nilima Monsen for BSI Ultimate. Distributed under CC BY-SA 4.0 license.