How Many Steps Can You Take in Ultimate Frisbee?

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Many people today like playing Ultimate Frisbee. Unlike baseball, you only need a frisbee disc to play catch instead of gloves and a baseball. People can even play Ultimate Frisbee with only a frisbee disc. However, people often confuse the rules of Ultimate Frisbee. One of the most common questions I hear is: how many steps can you take in Ultimate Frisbee?

How Many Steps Can You Take in Ultimate Frisbee? 

Defensive players can run anywhere on the field and even offensive players. However, if you’re the offensive player with the Frisbee disc you can only take three steps before establishing a base pivot foot. This means offensive players can take up to two stopping steps (or more depending on the catching momentum) before another player calls for a traveling violation.

Player taking a few steps before throwing the disc in an ultimate frisbee game

An official determines if the offensive did take too many steps when he or she could have not. You could also decide among yourselves if a player traveled if you’re playing by yourselves. Offensive players cannot touch, block or bump defensive players. Doing so results in loss of possession. 

Defensive players need to stay one yard from an offensive player holding the frisbee disc. Failure to follow results in a ten-yard penalty walked off by an official. You can stick closer than one yard only if the offensive player doesn’t hold the frisbee disc. Once the offensive player possesses a frisbee disc, you should retreat at least one-yard distance. 

How Does Movement Work in Ultimate Frisbee?

Your team holds possession of the frisbee disc until it is either:

  • Defended
  • Caught by the other team
  • Thrown out of bounds
  • Called for a foul
  • Drops to the ground

While you can’t run with the frisbee disc, you can take a few extra steps to slow down and stop your momentum. However, you can’t slow down if you’re going into the end zone.

Player trying to block someone from throwing a frisbee disc

How Many Seconds Can You Hold the Frisbee in Ultimate Frisbee?

You can hold the Frisbee in your hands for ten seconds. Once a defender comes close to you, the ten seconds count starts. If you fail to release the frisbee within ten seconds, other players can call for a stalling violation.

The defender gains possession of the frisbee and your team becomes the defender. You’ll stay as a defender until you regain possession of the frisbee. 

What Happens When The Frisbee Hits the Ground?

If a player on the receiving team touches the thrown frisbee disc before it hits the ground and then the frisbee disc hits the ground, the play calls for a dropped disc. It results in a turnover and the opposing team gains possession. 

If the receiving team allows for the frisbee disc to fall untouched to the ground and the frisbee disc lands in bounds first, the receiving team gains possession where the frisbee disc stops. 

If the throw off lands out of bounds, the receiving team have the option of:

  • Putting the frisbee disc in play at the point where it crossed the line
  • Request to do a re-throw
  • Put the frisbee disc in play from the brick mark closest to the end zone that the receiving team is defending 

How Do You Call Out of Bounds in Ultimate Frisbee?

Out of BoundsIn Bounds
When the frisbee gets out of the perimeter lineWhen the player catches the frisbee inside of the perimeter line
When the player catches the frisbee yet it touches a part of the outboundsWhen the player prevents the frisbee from touching the outbounds
When the player goes out of bounds with the frisbeeWhen the frisbee doesn’t touch any object that is out of bounds

Like all sports, Ultimate Frisbee has a boundary for their field of play. You can call out of bounds if the play falls into the following:

Player trying to catch a disc mid air
  • A player with the frisbee disc gets out of the perimeter line.
  • A frisbee disc makes the first contact within the out of bounds area or outside of the playing field. You also call it out of bounds if the frisbee discs make the first contact with any objects like trees that are in the out of bounds area.
  • A player makes the first contact in an out of bounds area after gaining possession of the frisbee disc.
  • If the momentum of a player puts him or her out of bounds after making a catch, You won’t call him or her out of bounds. Instead, the player puts the frisbee disc back into play where he or she went out of bounds. 
  • A thrower may pivot in and out of bounds as long as a part of the pivot foot is inside the playing field

Is Physical Contact Allowed in Ultimate Frisbee?

Ultimate Frisbee games involve no physical contact most of the time. Most games also self-officiate meaning players call their own fouls. So this means that players can’t make a play using picks and screens. 

Most fouls and contact rules in ultimate frisbee look similar to basketball. Most ultimate frisbee foul occurs when two players try to take a disc. This may involve a lot of physical contacts as both players eagerly want to take possession of the frisbee disc and usually ends up in a foul. 

Although ultimate frisbee games mostly use self-officiating, most games contain on-field observers. If there’s a dispute of a foul call, the closest on-field observer intervenes on the disputed call and decides the right call. 

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about taking steps in Ultimate Frisbee.

What Is It Called When You Take Too Many Steps With the Frisbee?

When an offensive player takes more than two steps with the frisbee, it is called a ”travel violation”. When this happens, the official will stop the game and call for a check. After the foul is confirmed, the match resumes.

What Is the 10-Second Rule in Ultimate Frisbee?

The ten-second rule consists of the player not being allowed to hold the frisbee for more than ten seconds. Once the player receives the frisbee, a counter will start; if they don’t throw it before it ends, the referee will call foul.

Can You Jump Throw in Ultimate Frisbee?

No, according to the rules, you cannot throw or change the direction of the frisbee without setting a pivot foot. Therefore, if you are airborne while releasing the disk, the official might call it a foul. However, this play can be very debatable, which is why some officials do not call it.


You can take as much as 3 steps in ultimate frisbee before other players call you for traveling violation. Sometimes players go over 3 steps if their momentum doesn’t allow them to only go for 3 steps. Keep in mind that other factors like physical contact and time also factor when you are in possession of a frisbee disc. 

Tim Frechette is an avid athlete, having played sports like soccer and basketball his entire life. He brings a wealth of athletic knowledge to his writing.