Ultimate Frisbee Rules

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Ultimate Frisbee requires you to master all rules. The game has many rules ranging from players to the field. Mastering the Ultimate Frisbee rules will help you play fairly and ensure that your time playing is enjoyable.

Ultimate Frisbee Rules

Ultimate Frisbee is a disc sports game that involves not making contact with opposite team players. Any contact that stops play is regarded as a foul. The game aims to score goals that earn you points.

A person catching a frisbee

Two teams of 7 players each play the game. Interestingly, this game requires no referee because the rules of the game run and officiate how the game is played. The rules cover the gameplay and players and can sometimes be manipulated. The rules for ultimate Frisbee include:


The field should be rectangular, 40 yards wide by 70 yards long. Each end has an end zone 20 yards deep. This field size accommodates the two teams, and play is on the marked field. The game time is two twenty minutes halves with a five minutes break.

Starting play

Two teams of 7 players play ultimate frisbee. A minimum of 5 players is required. There is a gender difference of one in a co-rec play. Players have to align in front of opposition end zone lines. The defense tosses the disc to their offense. A coin is thrown, and the winner determines if they initiate the pull.


Catching a pass of the opposite team in the defense end zone is considered a score. The team with the most goals wins. Every team has one 2 minutes timeout per half. The teams switch directions after a goal is scored. In case of a tie, the play goes to overtime. When both teams fail to score after the runtime of the game is over, it is considered a tie.

State of the Disc

The Ultimate Frisbee disc is allowed to move in any direction. Running with the disc is prohibited. You have 10 seconds to throw the disc. The defender takes charge of stall count. The state of the disc describes the complexion of play. The disc can either be:

  • In-play – occurs when players are permitted to move.
  • Live – movement is allowed, but the thrower can not make a legal pass. You can not throw the disc to yourself.
  • Dead – the disc is not subjected to a turnover.

Possession Change

Possession changes when a pass is not completed. When possession changes, the offense becomes the defense while the defense attacks. When the disc changes hand to opposition, it’s a turnover.

A turnover occurs when a pass is incomplete, and the disc becomes out of bound. It occurs when a player is not in position and the disc touches the ground.

Two players trying to practice and follow the Ultimate Frisbee rules


Substitutions are made after a score or during timeouts. Before a pull, replacing an injured player and starting a half subs can also be made. Substitutions after a re-pull call are disallowed.


Each team has seven players. The players consist of the receiver, the marker, and the thrower.

After catching the disc, the receiver should come to a halt and establish a pivot. When defensive and offensive players catch the disc simultaneously, the offense retains the possession.

The marker takes charge of the stall count. Once the thrower has the disc, the marker begins the stall count by announcing “stalling.” Once a count of 10 has been reached, a turnover takes place.

If the disc is on the ground, any offensive player can possess it. If the offensive player picks alive or in-play, disc play continues. The thrower establishes a pivot for a live disc before touching the disc on the ground and throwing it.


Only the fouled player can call an infraction. A play is considered dangerous if the action may impose injury or is wildly aggressive. Contact that distracts play results in a foul. The team or player fouled announce by loudly calling foul once it occurs. The opposition team can contest if they disagree with the call.

Some actions considered dangerous are:

  • Diving around
  • Jumping into a group
  • Contact with another players head
  • Wild throwing motions
  • Jumping in front of a sprinting player to block movement.

Play stops after a foul call is made. The continuation rule applies when a foul is committed. Play stops if the thrower acknowledges the call as an infraction. A player may stop a sliding disc but not further its movement.

Dangerous play between a marker and a thrower is considered a throwing foul. The resulting foul is received when the disc is in the air.

Self Officiating

In the ultimate frisbee game, disputes are solved by the players. No officiating referees are required; the players make foul calls. Both teams resolve the infraction and play proceeds. If a team disagrees with the call and is disallowed, play reverts to the previous thrower in possession.

You can seek the perspective of sideline players or coaches to help with the rules. Outfield personnel, however, cannot assist in making the right call.

Two players trying to catch the Ultimate Frisbee disc

Spirit of the Game

Establish a healthy rivalryGet angry at your competition
Control your emotionsSpeak using bad words
Speak respectfullyTry to cheat

It is the backbone of all rules—Spirit of the game refers to a set of ideas that brings fair play. Players are not allowed to violate the rules intentionally. Some rules are specific, while others are general. Competitive play is motivated but not at the expense of other players’ well-being.

Players must:

  • Be truthful
  • Only make a foul call if the infraction is crucial
  • Understand the rules
  • Resolve disputes quickly
  • Use respectful language
  • Make foul calls in a harmonious way
  • Allow opponents freedom of speech
  • Consider opponents opinion
  • Be objective and fair

Number of Steps to Take in Ultimate Frisbee?

You can take up to three steps before a traveling call is made. An offensive player with the disc has up to three steps depending on the catching momentum. Both defensive and offensive players can move anywhere on the field.

An observer can help decide if the steps taken exceeded the required amount. Players can also decide if they are sure about the steps taken. Offensive players are disallowed to block defensive players. Possession is lost if a defensive player blocks or bumps into an attacking player.

What Is Not Allowed in Ultimate Frisbee?

Physical contact between players is prohibited. Unavoidable contact is inevitable, but any meaningful contact with an opponent is considered foul play.

Actions like taunting other players are highly discouraged. Intentional fouling, reckless aggression, and win-all-cost character are against the Spirit of the game. Such actions hinder the progression of fair play.

Defensive players must stay one yard from the player in possession. You are only allowed to be close if the offensive player does not have the disc. A ten-yard penalty is awarded if this rule is violated.

Screens and picks are also not allowed. Players resolve their disputes, and this promotes sportsmanship and fairness.

How Long Can You Hold a Frisbee Disc?

You are not allowed to keep the disc for more than ten seconds. The thrower has less than ten seconds to make a throw to a teammate. If the marker is not within 3 meters, the thrower can keep the disc for more than ten seconds.

When a new marker is chosen, the stall count is restarted from 0. You are not allowed to run with the disc. A pass is only completed when the disc is passed successfully to a teammate. Play is restarted after every goal scored.

A stalling violation call is made if you fail to release the disc in 10 seconds. The defender gains possession, and the attacking team starts to defend.

Related Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions about ultimate frisbee rules.

Can You Throw Backwards in Ultimate Frisbee?

Yes, according to the rules, you can throw forward, sideways, and backward. The only thing you need to be careful about is to not send the frisbee out of bounds; this will be beneficial for your opponent.

Can You Jump Throw in Ultimate Frisbee?

Although the rules do not explicitly state that players cannot jump during a throw, it is generally considered an illegal action. This is because you cannot change directions or power without setting your pivot foot first.

So, if you jump, you will be changing direction vertically and it will be considered a travel.

What Are the Two Most Common Violations in Ultimate Frisbee?

The two most common rule violations in ultimate frisbee are travel violations and not establishing your pivot foot. These are very common mistakes among beginners.


The Ultimate Frisbee rules are meant to assist in a fair, free-flowing sport. The rules promote sportsmanship, and the Spirit of the game is upheld. Players should learn the rules to avoid dangerous play.

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.