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This is how to play Ultimate Frisbee, the throwing game and team sport that focuses on fairness and fun

30. March 2017 - Anika Semmer

How to Play Ultimate Frisbee - The Fairest Throwing Game | Game Rules


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Ultimate Frisbee is more than just a running game. Tactics and throwing techniques make Ultimate an ingenious team sport that focuses on fairness and fun. Practically anyone can play it. And this is how to play Ultimate Frisbee.

Ultimate Frisbee – Ultimate for short – is a running game in which two teams play against each other and score points with the Frisbee. The special thing about it: There is no referee, each player reports a foul himself. It consists of game elements from basketball and American football and is running-intensive and tactical.

High combative commitment pays off in Ultimate Frisbee – but it is a disembodied sport, which means tackling like in American football is not allowed. There are fixed rules and specifications for the number of players and playing field for Ultimate Frisbee, which exist at international competitions and clubs.

However, those who play Ultimate Frisbee in their leisure time for fun do not necessarily have to comply with these specifications – because Ultimate can also be played well with more or fewer players and on a roughly estimated playing field, e.g. in a park. For indoor games, basketball or handball courts are ideally suited.

How to Play Ultimate Frisbee

Two teams of 7 players face each other on a marked out field the length and half the width of a football field. At each long end of the field is a 15-20 metre long end zone, as in American football. The goal of the game in Ultimate Frisbee is to pass the disc without running with it and to catch it in the opponent’s end zone – this way the team of the catcher scores a point..

If a player catches the frisbee, he may only move in star step or stop step and has 10 seconds to throw. All other players move freely, trying to block and cover to grab the disc and run for open spaces. If a throw lands on the floor or out of bounds or is intercepted by the opposing team, the other team gets the disc (turnover) and may attack immediately. In tournaments, there is a default whether a game is won by 13, 15 or 17 points – or it goes for a certain time e.g. 2 x 25 minutes..

Ultimate Frisbee is the only team sport in the world where the players manage themselves – so they don’t need a referee – and call fouls. It is a body-less sport and fouls or caroms are reported by the player involved himself by calling foul. Immediately, all players freeze in their position and the player and the one responsible for the foul can acknowledge or deny the foul. If he acknowledges it, the fouled player gets the Frisbee, if he disputes it (contest), the Frisbee goes back to the thrower and the game continues. This check cancels the freeze so that play can continue. Fairness is very important in Ultimate Frisbee – so the players also decide for themselves whether a Frisbee was caught out of bounds or a player moved with the Frisbee against the rules (Travel).

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Ultimate Frisbee Game Rules

This is how to play Ultimate Frisbee by rules familiar from basketball and American football

Bet’cha didn’t see that one coming from ben klocek at CC BY 2.0

About 5 million people play Ultimate Frisbee worldwide – 4.9 million of them in the USA and Canada. So in Germany, this team sport is still a novelty. But it is played all over the world (except in North America) according to the rules of the World Frisbee Federation (WFDF).

General Rules

1. Fair Play is the most important rule.

2. The playing field

The playing field is 100 m long, 37 m wide, the end zones are each 18 m long. The chalk lines bordering the pitch are already part of the out. The size of the pitch may be freely adapted to the available space and the number of players.

3. Teams and Team Strength

Officially, there are always 7 players per team, who may be substituted after each point scored. Each team usually consists of around 15 players.

4. Duration of the game

Officially, a game lasts until a team has scored 15 points and consists of two halves. When a team has scored 8 points, it is half-time. This rule is also flexible – for example, the duration of the game can be limited to 2 x 25 minutes and lower points.

Ultimate Frisbee Game Rules

1. Throw-off

At the start of the game, the teams face each other at the baseline. The defending team gets the Frisbee and throws it to the attacking team – this is the throw-off. Now each player may move freely and the attacking team starts the game.

2. Change of sides
After each point, the teams switch sides and the team that scored last throws on.

3. The Frisbee

The disc may be thrown in any direction to a team player. When a player catches the disc, he must stop immediately and move only in a star step like in basketball. He must throw the Frisbee within 10 seconds – the direct defender who is within a radius of 3 m of the player counts every second (stall count). If no one counts to 10, the thrower may keep the Frisbee longer.

4. Turnover – changing the direction of play

If the following occurs, the other team may attack and gets the frisbee:

  • The Frisbee falls to the ground, touches the ground before being caught or is dropped when trying to catch it
  • The thrower has not yet thrown when the direct defender has counted to 10
  • An opponent catches the Frisbee
  • An opponent hits the Frisbee on the ground. The game continues from where the disc is lying.
  • A player catches the Frisbee in his own out or it is thrown into the out. If a player jumps up, catches the Frisbee in the air of the out and throws it back before his feet land there (The Great), this is a legitimate throw and not a rule violation!

5. Offences and Fouls

  • Any physical contact that affects the game is a foul.
  • The player involved reports the foul himself. If the other player admits to the foul, the game continues where the foul occurred. If he denies the foul (contest), the last pass is repeated.
  • Obstruction of vision and defence
  • Counting too fast (Fast Count)
  • hitting the ball out of the hand (strip)

And how to play Ultimate Frisbee professionally? This is how Ultimate Frisbee is played by the pros! The best throws from 2016:

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Image source Cover image: by Sam at CC BY-SA 2.0

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