What is Ultimate?

To quote the USA Ultimate:

Combining the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer with the aerial passing skills of football, a game of Ultimate is played by two seven-player squads with a high-tech plastic disc on a field similar to football. The object of the game is to score by catching a pass in the opponent’s end zone. A player must stop running while in possession of the disc, but may pivot and pass to any of the other receivers on the field.

Ultimate is a transition game in which players move quickly from offense to defense on turnovers that occur with a dropped pass, an interception, a pass out of bounds, or when a player is caught holding the disc for more than ten seconds.

Ultimate is governed by Spirit of the Game, a tradition of sportsmanship that places the responsibility for fair play on the players rather than referees. Ultimate is played in more than 42 countries by hundreds of thousands of men and women, girls and boys.

Ultimate in 10 simple rules

  1. The Field: A rectangular shape with end zones at each end. A regulation field is 70 yards by 40 yards, with end zones 25 yards deep.
  2. Initiate Play: Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of their respective end zone line. The defense throws (“pulls”) the disc to the offense. A regulation game has seven players per team.
  3. Scoring: Each time the offense completes a pass in the defense’s end zone, the offense scores a point. Play is initiated after each score.
  4. Movement of the Disc: The disc may be advanced in any direction by completing a pass to a teammate. Players may not run with the disc. The person with the disc (“thrower”) has ten seconds to throw the disc. The defender guarding the thrower (“marker”) counts out the stall count.
  5. Change of Possession: When a pass in not completed (e.g. out of bounds, drop, block, interception), the defense immediately takes possession of the disc and becomes the offense.
  6. Substitutions: Players not in the game may replace players in the game after a score and during an injury timeout.
  7. Non-contact: No physical contact is allowed between players. Picks and screens are also prohibited. A foul occurs when contact is made.
  8. Fouls: When a player initiates contact on another player a foul occurs. When a foul disrupts possession, the play resumes as if the possession was retained. If the player committing the foul disagrees with the foul call, the play is redone.
  9. Self-Officiating: Players are responsible for their own foul and line calls. Players resolve their own disputes.
  10. Spirit of the Game: Ultimate stresses sportsmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.

Videos of Ultimate games

The College Sports Television Network (CSTV) has the UW Men’s Ultimate Team playing for the national championship in May, 2007. Watch the National Championship game. Those Ultimate games are played at a very high level, but they show how an Ultimate game is played.

While games at the very highest level in the MUFA summer league can look like that, the vast majority of teams play at a much lower level. If you are just starting out, you can expect that games will have lots of turnovers, bad throws, dropped catches, slower game play, etc.

Players start out only being able to barely throw a backhand accurately and it takes quite a while to learn how to throw a forehand pass well. You don’t even have to know how to throw a frisbee at all to play in a league and can just start by running around and catching.

Official Rules of Ultimate, 11th edition

You can start playing by just using the 10 simple rules above. For the complete set of rules, see the Official Rules of Ultimate, 11th edition. They are located on USA Ultimate’s Web site.

More Information on Ultimate

You can find lots more information about Ultimate at the Wikipedia entry for Ultimate.