What Is a Turnover in Ultimate Frisbee?

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Ultimate Frisbee, just like every other game, has terminologies that are peculiar to it. One such term is ‘turnover’. If you are an intending or current frisbee player, you need to understand this term, -and others- to ensure that you are playing knowledgeably. So, what is a turnover in ultimate frisbee?

What Is a Turnover in Ultimate Frisbee?

A turnover in ultimate frisbee is simply an immediate transfer of possession of the disc to the opposing team. By doing so, an attacking team becomes the defensive team instead. A turnover occurs if a pass is incomplete, if it is played out of bounds or if a dropped pull occurs.

Women playing ultimate frisbee

A pass is considered incomplete when the disc falls to the ground without an interception from the thrower or an opponent. However, if the player or an opponent catches the disc before it touches the ground, the game goes on without interruption.

Other Situations Where a Turnover Occurs

Dropped PullThe disc is dropped
Disc falls out of boundsThe disc touches an area out of the lines
Bad disc passA player sends the disc to a teammate

There are other conditions other than an incomplete pass that may result in a turnover. They include:

Dropped Pull

This occurs when a defending player drops the disc. However, just before the dropped disc touches the ground, if an opponent touches the disc and fails to catch it, it is considered a dropped pull. This results in a turnover and a call is made to stop the game for a transfer of possession.

Out of Bounds

This occurs when a player throws a disc and it exceeds the lines that demarcate the inland portion of the field or touches items outside the marked area. This would automatically result in a turnover.

Improper Pass of Disc

A turnover occurs when a defending player fails to throw the disc and instead hands it over to a teammate. This results in an automatic change of possession of the disc.

Other Terminologies Used in Ultimate Frisbee

Turnover is not the only term used while playing ultimate frisbee. The game has a long list of other terms that are used to describe different actions. They include:

Forehand Throw

This is also known as Flick. It is a common throwing technique in ultimate frisbee where the player grips the frisbee making use of the:

  • thumb
  • index finger
  • middle finger

and then throws the frisbee in a flicking motion, engaging the forehand muscles and wrist. It is usually carried out using the dominant hand.

Two women playing frisbee at the beach


This is simply a throw-over-the-head. However, while throwing in hammer style, the disc is usually thrown upside down, instead of in the normal position.


A player makes a good defense by catching the disc instead of hitting it away. He/she then passes the disc to a teammate, runs to position himself or herself for the next pass, catches the disc, and then scores a point.

Backhand Throw

Backhand throw is another common maneuver where the player makes a throw using the non-dominant hand. The hand is held across the body towards the back before the throw is made.


This occurs when the disc is played out of bounds. The game is resumed by the offensive team playing the game from the brick mark which is located 20 yards and centrally from the goal line of the receiving team. The player must signify they are playing a brick by clapping once over their head.


It is a rare and impressive play in the game that occurs when a defender catches the disc at the opponent’s end zone, resulting in automatic points. This is similar to an own goal in other games.


This is a type of defensive move where a player tries to make the opponent throw in another direction, usually towards the sidelines.


This is similar to a goalpost in football. This is the area at the end of the playing field where points are scored.


Huck is the long-distance throw across the playing field.


This is the starting throw to begin the game or continue the game after a point is scored.


A player jumps and catches the disc over the head of the opponent.


This is similar to an assist in football. A player throws the disc to a teammate in the opponent’s end zone who then makes the scoring throw.

Playing ultimate frisbee at the beach

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Stalling in Ultimate Frisbee?

When a player has possession of the disc for more than 10 seconds without making a pass, this is referred to as a turnover. It is a foul that usually results in a turnover.

What Is Not a Turnover in Ultimate Frisbee?

As long as the player still has possession of the frisbee, it doesn’t matter if the disc touches the floor, it should not be a turnover. On the other hand, if the disc is thrown and touches an outbound area, it is considered a turnover.

How Long Can a Player Hold Onto the Frisbee Before It Becomes a Turnover?

Players are allowed to hold onto the frisbee for not more than ten seconds before having to throw it. If they fail to pass or throw the disc before, it will be considered a turnover.


Ultimate Frisbee is a very competitive, no-contact game that aims to foster good sportsmanship between players, as it is predominantly self-officiated. However, the rules of the game enforce consequences for foul play amongst players, such as a turnover where possession of the disc is immediately transferred to the opposing team.

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.