What Are The Rules And Regulations Of Ultimate Frisbee?

The Rules of Ultimate

Ultimate is a non-contact, self-officiating sport that uses a Frisbee disc to score points. Millions of people play the sport worldwide regardless of age whether it is played on grass fields or on the beach. There are divisions divided by youth, college, club, Masters (30+) and professionals as well as seasonal leagues, and hat tournaments, which are tournaments where players are put into teams by the Tournament Director on the day of a tournament.


Ultimate shares many similarities to soccer, football and basketball but the one thing that sets it apart is that it is a self-officiating sport. There are no referees so every player must become familiar with the rules and make their own calls while on the field. In high-level tournaments, games are overseen by observers who serve as the informal, neutral voice on the field, but they do not have the power to stop game-play or make calls for the players as referees do.

How to Catch

You can run as long as you do not have possession of the disc. Once you catch it, you are allowed as many steps as it takes to slow down but you must stop as soon as possible.

How to Throw

The first thing to learn when you start playing ultimate is learning how to throw a disc. There are two main ways to throw a disc: a backhand and a forehand (flick).


If you are right-handed, outstretch your right hand as if to shake someone's hand and grasp the disc on the right side with your thumb on top and your fingers curling around the side and inside the lip of the disc.


Create a gun with your index, middle finger and thumb and place your index and middle on the inside of the lip, pointing away from you, and your thumb on the outside. Angle your wrist so that the inside of the disc is facing your body. When throwing, snap your wrist in a whipping motion to push the disc is the desired direction. The sharper the snap, the faster and more stable the disc should come out.

Feet Placement

When throwing a flick, your right foot should be at a 45° angle from your left foot. When throwing a backhand, you should mirror the angle of your right foot on the left side. You are not allowed to run when in possession of the disc because that is called traveling, therefore you must have a pivot foot. If you're right-handed, your pivot foot is your left, and vice versa, and therefore must be planted on the ground. Once you let go of the disc, you can move both feet. If you move your pivot foot before releasing the disc, that is a travel.

Spirit of the Game

Since this sport is self-officiating, each player is accountable for their own and each other’s actions. When a player makes a call, everyone must stop where they are at on the field while a discussion between the players in question come to a reasonable compromise for both teams. It is incredibly important to be honest and agreeable when on the field.

Game Start

Each team starts with seven players on either side of the field, behind the front of the endzone line, facing the opposite. When the defense is ready to start the game, the person with the disc raises their hand to communicate that they are ready to go. The offense must raise their hand(s) to say that they are ready, then the defense pulls (throws) the disc to the offense, which indicates that both teams can cross the front of the endzone towards each other.

The Goal

If one team has possession of the disc but is then dropped, intercepted, or touches the ground, then it is a turnover and the other team gets possession. Once someone is in the endzone and catches the frisbee in-bounds, then that team takes one point.


Players are normally categorized into handlers and cutters.

Handlers are usually in the back, in possession of the disc most of the time and in control of where it ends up. They typically need to have decent throws because cutters tend to rely on them to make wise decisions.

Cutters are the upfield players, running around trying to get the defense off of their back to collect a thrown disc.

The Force

The force is a defensive strategy is executed by a defender standing on a certain side of the opposing player in order to influence them to run in the opposite direction or throw a certain way.


The two handlers are in the back and looking upfield towards their cutters and the opposing team's endzone. There are two varieties of offensive setups: vertical (vert) stack and horizontal (ho) stack. The vertical stack is the most common and that means that the five cutters will position themselves in a vertical line in the middle of the field, paralleling the sideline, and facing their handlers.

The Field

Since there is a line in the middle of the field, there are large, empty spaces on either side of the line called open space. The distance between the player in the front of the stack (line) and the handler with the disc is about 20 feet away.

Cutter Movement

In most cases, the person in the back of the stack must make their move first to try and get open. They go first because they have a better view of the rest of the players and can make a decision based off of that.  The cutter can decide to cut go under (towards the handler with the disc) or go deep (away from the disc) and these movements are called cutting. The act of cutting is a sharp sprint directed in a chosen direction and may involve quick fakes (the act of pretending to run or to throw one direction). Once the handler throws it to a cutter or a handler, the stack (line) must shift itself down the field in order to continue to give more space to the players.


The most common defensive strategy is to have each person guarding man on man and forcing them to run a certain direction.

There are two main varieties of defense which can be described in different ways. The terms Home and Away can be used but Flick and Backhand can be used as well, but they are not necessarily interchangeable. When lining up on the field as a defense before the pull, the team must discuss which way they want to force. If the force is home, it usually refers to the sideline with which everyone’s belongings are on. If the belongings are on the left sideline, then every person must force their opponents to run to the right side by standing on the left side of them if they are a cutter. To defend a handler, one must stand on the right side of them, so that they are forced to throw a flick.

Ultimate Boundary Rules

Any time the disc is caught outside of the entire field (including the end zones and sidelines), or it is thrown out and does not come back in, then it is considered out of bounds.

If the disc is caught in bounds but the player then runs out of bounds because of their momentum, they are considered in bounds. In order for the disc to be in play, at that point, a player’s pivot foot must be set on the field and tap the disc on the ground to indicate a live disc.

If a player straddles, steps on, or jumps over the boundary line, then it is considered out of bounds.

The line is also considered out of bounds.


When a player catches the disc but one foot lands out of bounds and the other lands in bounds at the same time, this is called a straddle and is not counted in. This is the same when a player straddles the front of the endzone line, it will not count as in and they must continue to play until a player is completely in or it is a turnover.

On the Line

When a player catches the disc but their first point of contact is on the line, not straddling, then the disc is considered not in. Technically, the line is out of bounds.

Best Perspective

When there is a call made to argue that a player is in bounds or in the endzone or not, everyone stops and the person on the field with the best perspective, or best view of the receiver and the boundary lines, will give their opinion of whether they believe the receiver is in bounds or not. These calls are made if an observer or referee are not facilitating the game.

Maneuvers for Keeping the Disc In

Toe the line

A maneuver to keep your toes in bounds. Typically, when someone tries to toe the line, their body stretches as far as they can to reach the disc so that the disc can be called in.


If the disc is too far away from the boundary line to toe it, then a player can jump over the boundary line, catch then immediately throw the disc before any part of their body touches out of bounds. If someone catches that thrown disc, then it is a completed Greatest.


If a player is really close to the endzone, the receiver can prepare to make a large hop into the endzone so that the point can be over.