Let me say right off the bat that I think Ultimate is the greatest sport known to man. I absolutely love Ultimate, and I think everyone should play. Even if you don't want to play Ultimate, go out and throw a Frisbee around for a little bit. Run. Get some sun and exercise. You'd be surprised how much you'll like it. Remember, Ultimate was created by geeks for geeks. Soon I hope to have an Ultimate history node up so everyone can appreciate the glory that is Ultimate, and how geeks rose up and created it for themselves. These rules are also up at UPA Rules for Ultimate, but that's the full rule book, which I think is a little much for casual players, but this node and ultimate have oversimplified versions of the rules and I think this will clarify some things. If you think that I am adding unnecessary information, well, then vote me down. Here is the way that I teach groups of people without any experience Ultimate in under 5 minutes. I use variations on these 10 basic rules and a brief interpretation of them, which I am sticking at the bottom.

Ultimate in 10 Simple Rules



  1. The Field -- A rectangular shape with endzones at each end. A regulation field is 70 yards by 40 yards, with endzones 25 yards deep.
  2. Initiate Play -- Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of their respective endzone 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 endzone, 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-Refereeing -- 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.

These rules taken from The Ultimate Handbook, http://www.ultimatehandbook.com/Webpages/Beginner/simplerules.html. The Ultimate Handbook is a great site, and I highly recommend it for any Ultimate players of all skill levels, especially beginners though. If you have any interest in Ultimate at all, visit this site or the Ultimate Players Association, www.upa.org.

These are the basic rules of Ultimate. Here's my short take on how these rules are usually interpreted, and any changes that have been made to them in newer revisions.

1. Field is preferably marked with cones, but discs, t-shirts or anything else will do. Use a longish pace as a yard.

3. Slight change under Callahan rules. Now, if a defensive player intercepts the disc in the other team's endzone, it is a score for the defensive team.

4. If the disc goes out of bounds the other team gets possession where the disc went out of bounds, not where it lands. If 10 seconds pass and the thrower doesn't throw it, it's a change of possession.

5. The disc can sit on the ground for a reasonable length of time. You do not have to pick up the disc as soon as it hits the ground.

7. A pick is when a defender has to run around someone else, either offensive or defensive. If you are on defense, and you run in to someone, you got picked. If you just have to alter your course to avoid someone you got picked. Incidental physical contact is not always a foul.

9. Resolve your own disputes. Every on the field wants to have fun. Don't argue. Act like you are on Everything. Try not to rant or scream. All disputes can be resolved.

10. This means have fun. Always remember that Ultimate was created to be FUN, not as a reason to go out and get angry at people.

Ultimate. There could be no better name for this game that can completely posses you. No other sport can challenge you and entertain you nearly as much, but the greatest aspect to Ultimate is that you really don't see any of the nasty competitiveness and heated arguments that you find in most sports. As a geek, I have absolutely no athletic skills, but if you give me a frisbee and nine other people on a soccer field then what happens is magical. The sport is also very simple to understand and easy to learn, as discussed in Barbie's writeup.

When I was in high school, Ultimate was a way to escape from hardships and a place where I could really bond with people. I would often meet with groups of my friends at the field and for hours we would play game after game under the warmth of the sun. Through Ultimate I grew even closer with these people, and I was able to share everything with them and together we united and helped each other through the difficulties of life.

Inevitably, we all seperated and went our seperate ways after high school, but that tie to Ultimate Frisbee still exists for us and when we can, we still join together. Ultimate Frisbee brought me some of the happiest moments in my life, and I am always yearning to be back on a sunny field with a frisbee in my hand.

Ahhh ... Ultimate Frisbee.

I played for a while at school when I decided I couldn't be arsed to bother with cricket, and along with about 20-30 other students we formed NADS, purportedly standing for 'National Adams Disc Squad', as we all came from Adams Grammmar School, but actually named so that the supporters could stands at the side of the pitch as shout 'Go NADS' with impunity.

I didn't ever make it to the team, which were actually very good and boasted several international players, and went on to win the UK National Indoor Championships in either 1996 or 1997.

The most enduring memory I have of the sport is the sheer number of ways a disc can be thrown, be it backhand (the way you would normally think to throw a frisbee, forehand (out of the front of you hand, and involved a lot of wrist flicking), or the tomahawk (where the frisbee was held perpendicular to the ground and hurled in a javelin style at about 45 degrees to the ground,giving you great distance on the throw before it curved round to fly flat ). The most elusive throw of all however, and one which I have never mastered, was the 'air bounce', which was an excellent way of passing the disc under a defenders arm. It was performed by throwing the disc at the ground but at a specific angle so that it caught a cushion of air underneath it, and rather than hitting the floor and thus turning possesion over to the opposing team, the disc bounced off the air, and started to rise again, carrying on its merry way. Baffled me every time.

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