The Rules of Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate Frisbee can be explained in ten simple rules. These are simple to learn; and help provide a fun safe atmosphere for athletes of all ages.

The sport is played on a rectangular grass field, with the dimensions measuring 64m by 37m. At both ends of the field are end zones which measure another 18m deep each. I suggest you find a nice open area which tends to have little wind. This is typical in low areas such as valleys, or quads surrounded by buildings.

My friends and I normally use red cones to mark the front and back corners of each end zone, creating the layout of the field. However, you can use anything to mark these eight points, as we have used our change of clothes, shoes, and bags in the past.

To begin play, you’ll need two teams of seven, although, less than seven can still be fun. However, I must warn you, a two on two matches can be pretty intense. At the beginning of each point both teams line up at their respective end zones and one team throws to the other, much like a kick-off in American Football. This act is known as the “pull”.

When advancing the frisbee to try and score, there are a few things each team needs to be aware of. First, players cannot run with the frisbee. If sprinting when making a catch, it is acceptable to run out one’s momentum. Typically this means three steps; and some players may call a penalty if you abuse this rule. Second, players can move the disc in any direction. Passes need not always be advancements. Last, the handler of the frisbee has ten seconds to throw, and it is the defender’s job to call out a stall count when guarding him.

To score, a team must advance the frisbee, through tosses only, into the end zone of the defending team. Again this is very similar to American Football. The receiver of the throw must have both feet within the perimeter of the end zone, otherwise he is considered out of bounds, and the point does not count. After each point, the team which just scored “pulls” the disc and the defending team is now on offense.

Change of possession also occurs when a pass is not completed. This can be due to a blocked pass, an out of bounds, a missed catch, or an interception. All of these instances result in the defense immediately taking control of the disc and becoming the offense.

Typically, teams have more than seven people, which I highly recommend. This allows for substitutions when teammates become fatigued. And trust me, you will get tired. These substitutions are allowed only after a point has been scored or an injury timeout occurs.

And yes, injuries can occur even though Ultimate is a non-contact sport. This means players are not allowed to have any physical contact with each other. This isn’t to say that when two people bump in mid air while jumping for a disc that you should stop play. However, if the collision looks like it was intentional, or turns out to be pretty bad, then it is wise to call a foul. It is important to note that picks and screens are also prohibited in Ultimate.

Fouls are called when two people make physical contact. If the foul results in interference of possession, the original team retains control of the disc. If a player disputes the foul call however, the play is redone.

These foul calls are up to the players. In Ultimate, players self-referee. They are responsible for resolving any disputes, fouls, line calls or similar mishaps. For this reason, it is best everyone remain calm, open-minded, and always give the benefit of doubt to the opposing player.

And the most important thing to remember is something players refer to as “the spirit of the game.” This rule stresses sportsmanship and fair play. Ultimate is about goals and competition but this should never be the case at loss of respect for fellow athletes, the rules, and just plain fun.

Now that you know these ten simple rules for play, it is time for you to go out and have a fun, safe time. Work up a sweat and feel good about yourself. Ultimate is a great way to clear one’s mind and build a healthy body all at the same time.

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