Rules of Ultimate
The basic rules of Ultimate are easy to understand and have been simplified for this page. The complete rules, which should be read by all participants, can be found on the World Flying Disc Federation website here
You can get the basic gist here.
Ultimate is a team sport in which the team with the higher point total at the end of the game wins. It is played with two teams of seven players on a rectangular field with an endzone at each end. A goal, worth 1 point, is scored when a player/thrower passes the disc to a teammate and it is successfully caught within the confines of the endzone his or her team is attacking. The disc may be advanced solely by passing the disc from one player to another. A player may not run while in possession of the disc. While the team in possession of the disc seeks to advance the disc toward the endzone it is attacking, the opposing team seeks to thwart advancement and obtain possession by forcing a turnover. A turnover results whenever a pass is incomplete, caught or knocked down by an opposing player, touches the ground at any point or is caught by a player out-of-bounds. No overt contact or tackling is allowed. The sport is played on a self-officiated basis, with no referees. All line violation, possession and foul calls are made by the players on the playing field.
Spirit of the Game
All sports have a sense of the spirit of the game, although some have lost their grip on it more than others. In football a certain amount of cheating is expected and encouraged by fans and managers. In rugby the odd dirty hit is part of the game. Not in Ultimate
You don't cheat. If you want to cheat to win, go and play football.
There is no referee. The players referee themselves, at all levels of the game from juniors to international competitions.
Know the rules, respect your opposition, play fairly. That is spirit. A player with good spirit will call themselves out of bounds even when nobody else has spotted it. A spirited player doesn't call foul because they know contact was made half a second after they had already dropped the disc. A spirited player does not cheat
Starting a Game
When both teams have seven players in their own endzones, the game is ready to begin. One team will throw the disc from their own endzone to the other team in order to start the point. This is known as the 'pull'. If the disc lands out of the pitch then the attacking team may choose to start the point from the middle of the pitch, level with where the disc went out, or at the brick mark - whichever is further upfield.
Is in other sports, such as netball, players must come to a halt once they have caught the disc. Unlike in netball, players are allowed to slow down once they have caught the disc
. They are not expected to have come to a halt before they catch the disc. They must then make every effort to come to a halt as fast as possible. The general rule is within three steps.
Once the player in posession of the disc has come to a halt they must establish a pivot point. This is virtually always a foot, although technically it could be a hand, a bottom or a face. Something must be in contact with the ground and is not allowed to be in motion when the disc is being held. Usually this will be the opposite foot to your throwing hand (so a right handed player will pivot on their left foot).
If the player with the disc, once coming to a halt and setting a pivot foot, moves that foot before the pass is released, they have travelled
. Any member of the defending team may call 'travel', and the disc will go back to the thrower. If the throw hits the ground or is intercepted (i.e. the defending team would have gained possession had no call been made), then the defending team are allowed to decline the call and take possession as if no violation had occurred.
A player may hold onto the disc for no more than ten seconds. As soon as they have caught the disc (and it can be before they establish a pivot, or whilst they are out of bounds), any defender within three metres may begin stalling the player. They must start by saying "stalling" and then count upwards from one, at second intervals, until they reach ten. If the disc has not been thrown when the marker says the "t-" for ten, the player has been stalled out.
If the thrower feels the marker is counting too quickly (not at second intervals) then they may call "fast count". The marker immediately slows down and takes two seconds off the stall count. If they do it a second time then the stall count returns to zero.
Out of Bounds
If an attacking player catches the disc out of bounds, they will lose possession. A player is only out of bounds when they are in contact
with the ground outside of the pitch. A player in the air outside the pitch is not technically out of bounds until they contact the ground, although they must have jumped from an in bounds position. You can't stand ten metres out of bounds, and then jump when the disc comes at you! You need to jump from inbounds.
It is technically possible, although extremely difficult, to keep play alive by jumping out of bounds, catching and throwing the disc whilst in the air, before making contact with the ground. If the resulting pass is caught by a member of the attacking team it is known as the Greatest Play in Ultimate
or simply a World's Greatest
. You can see video of one here
If a player has one foot in, one foot out when they catch the disc, the are out
If a player has any part of their body on the line, they are out, even if it is only part of a foot. The sideline is out, unlike in tennis, where the sideline is still in.
The aim of the game. A team scores when a member of their team catches the disc inside the endzone that they are attacking. They can catch a pass from a teammate or intercept a throw from the opposition (nicknamed a 'Callahan'). Either is a score.
The player must be in bounds, as defined above. It is possible to catch the disc while jumping from outside the endzone (as long as you are jumping from an inbounds position) and land in the endzone. This is a score and is know as a 'jump through'.
Each score is worth one point. It is not possible to score more than a point at once in ultimate.
Restarting the Game
After a score, teams switch ends. The scoring team remain in the endzone they have scored in, and the team which has just been scored on walks the length of the field to the other endzone.
At this point either team may make substitutions.
There are unlimited rolling subs in Ultimate. Between points all seven players may be replaced with substitutes if the team so wishes. In fact, it is common that teams will put on fresh players every point due to the physically draining nature of the sport.
Once a player has subbed off they are still able to sub back on later in the game. There are no restrictions about the number of times a player may sub on or off.
Substitutions may be made during a game only when play has stopped due to an injury
. When a player has been injured and play has stopped they must then leave the field. They are free to return to the field later. Both teams may make substitutions when there has been such a break in play.
Ultimate is a non-contact game. The opposition may not tackle each other, they may only bid for the disc when it is in the air. The rules on contact are generally pretty clear, but there are technicalities which can be read about more here
If one player makes contact with another, the player who initiated the contact
is guilty of the foul. So for example, if the marker steps into the thrower as he is trying to release a pass, the marker has fouled the thrower. Common sense.
The interpretation of the rules is slightly less clear when two players are bidding for the same disc. Both players are allowed to move towards the disc and attempt to catch it. If two players are both jumping into the same space and make contact with each other, this is generally not considered to be a foul. However if one player is already standing still, and another player jumps into him whilst attempting to catch the disc, then they have fouled that player.
The basic idea is don't be a wimp and don't cheat. There will always be some contact when two players go up for the same disc. However only call foul if you feel that contact was what stopped you catching the disc, not the fact that the other player simply beat you to the disc. Calling a foul simply because you got beaten to the disc is as bad as jumping into another player. Both are violations of spirit.
You have the right to follow your marker around the pitch without being physically impeded, either by accident or design. Assume you are next to your mark. If they run in such a way that you cannot follow them in a direct line because other players are in the way, then that is a pick. If another player (from either team) unknowingly steps into your path and you cannot follow your mark, that is a pick.
You must be close to your mark to call pick. This is designed to stop stupid calls being made to slow down an attack. You have to be within 3 metres of your marker at the time when you are picked.
When picked, you should stop moving and shout "pick!" loudly. Everybody else should stop moving. You then have the chance to regain the distance you lost due to the pick. You don't automatically get to catch up the full distance if you were three metres away when you were picked!
Because a pick is a violation caused by the attacking team, they must make sure they maintain possession. If a player calls pick whilst the disc is in the air and the attackers fail to catch it, then a turnover occurs and the defenders take possession. After all, why would they want the play to go back? The general idea is that if you are an attacker and you hear "pick" while the disc is in the air, make sure you catch it!