Here’s a fun fact about Ultimate Frisbee: The official name is Ultimate, not Ultimate Frisbee, because ‘Frisbee’ is a trademark belonging to the Wham-O toy company.
But most people refer to the disc-throwing sport as Ultimate Frisbee.
It is played using a flying disc, or what’s more commonly called a Frisbee, with two teams on a soccer-sized field competing to score the most points.
Play starts with the two teams lining up on opposing sides of the field. These are the end zones. The official demarcation of end zones is the last 18m of both ends of the field.
One team throws the disc to the other team. Once the receiving team has the disc, their goal is to pass the disc amongst their players and catch it in the opposing team’s end zone.
This can be done in a single long throw or, more commonly, using a series of short passes from player to player.
Once a player catches the disc while within the opposing team’s end zone, they score a point and play starts again.
What are turnovers in Ultimate Frisbee?
It’s not always that the team on offence will successfully score a point.
During gameplay, the defending team can take possession of the disk and attempt to score a point in the other team’s end zone. They go from defence to offence. This is called a turnover.
Turnover happens when:
- A player fails to catch the disc and it falls to the ground.
- A defending player blocks the disc and it falls to the ground.
- A defending player intercepts the disc and catches it.
- The team on offence throws the disc out of bounds and it falls down beyond the boundary or hits an out-of-bounds object.
- A player commits a foul such as holding the disc for more than 10 seconds.
How many players are in an Ultimate Frisbee team?
Ultimate is typically played in a 7 a side formation, with seven people in each team.
But during casual play, you can have as few as two people per team. It depends on how many players there are and field size.
What are the rules of Ultimate Frisbee?
- No physical contact. Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact game. Any physical contact is regarded as a foul and can lead to a turnover or a do-over from the last uncontested position.
- You cannot run while holding the disc. Once you catch the Frisbee, you have to stop and throw the disc to another player.
- You can only hold onto the disc for a specific period, typically 10 seconds. Exceeding this period results in a turnover. This is called a stalling violation.
- There are specific ways to defend against a player. For instance, you cannot wrap your hands around them and must maintain a specific distance from them.
Unlike other sports, Ultimate Frisbee depends a lot on players to maintain decorum during gameplay. Many games don’t have a referee, though some official games can have an observer or a full referee.
Players themselves call fouls. If there’s a dispute, players resolve it amongst themselves. If they cannot, the disc is returned to the last uncontested position and play restarted.
When does the game end?
There is no official period for gameplay. Before the game starts, the teams decide on the target score, usually 15 or 17 points.
The team that reaches the score first wins.
How big is an Ultimate Frisbee field?
An Ultimate field measures 100m by 37m. The last 18 metres one each end of the field is the end zone.
These are the official dimensions. For casual play between friends, you can play on any sufficiently large field size.
Even a backyard works. Just find a way to mark the end zones and look for an Ultimate Frisbee that is backyard friendly (easy to throw but doesn’t fly too far).
What equipment do I need to play Ultimate Frisbee?
Beyond team uniform, the only piece of equipment you need is the Frisbee disc.
You can use any size of Frisbee you find comfortable. But the official Ultimate Frisbee measures 27.5cm wide and is 175g heavy.