Ultimate Frisbee Rules [ Scoring System, Positions, Fouls ] Expert Guide

The game of Ultimate Frisbee is unquestionably worth experiencing. It is full of pleasure, discipline, grace, and the spirit of sports shipment.

Interestingly, the players themselves follow and implement the laws of the game since this game does not need any referee.

Following is a compendious guide on the game of Ultimate Frisbee that is equally useful for beginners and professionals.

This concise-cum-complete guide explains, in lucid and simple language, history, object, equipment & the rules of ultimate Frisbee in detail, such as; team composition, court dimension with a complete playing procedure, scoring system, substitutions, fouls and penalties, skills, and techniques to play Frisbee.

Ultimate Frisbee Rules: Equipment, Court Makeup, Playing Formats, Position, Scoring, Fouls & Skills [ Complete Players Guide 2021]


Ultimate Frisbee, or only “Ultimate,” is the most popular variant of Frisbee. This game is a non-contact and self-officiated team sport.

Being a team sport, each team needs 7 on court players, and substitutes on the bench, outside of the playing area.

This game is played with a 10 to 11 inches flying disc, on a rectangular court of 100 m length and 37 m width, that includes two 23 m end zones (goal areas) at each end of the court.

10 Rules of Ultimate Explained

This game requires athleticism of the level of soccer, hockey, rugby or any other game that involves sprinting, passing the ball/disc, throwing or kicking it quickly, and sending it far towards the opponents’ goal area.

How Ultimate is Played?

To score goals, the players of each team try to get possession of the flying disc (without making physical contact with players), pass it from one teammate to the other, and save it from the opponents till it is carried all the way towards their (opponents’) end zone or goal area.

Each end-zone lies at each end of the court.

To win the match, a team has to score a mutually determined number of goals, usually 15 to 17 goals, in a given time period.

Usually, an Ultimate match lasts for 36 minutes period that consists of two halves.

The beauty of this game is highlighted in its spirit of the game; this game is self-refereed.

Quite interestingly,it is the players that decide the goals, fouls, turnovers and penalties that’s what make this game ultimately unique and class apart.

Similar Sport: Dodgeball Rules & Regulations to Play

Equipment Needed

All you need is a 10 to 11 inches round and 170 to 180 grams heavy flying disc that is mutually accepted by the players of both teams.

However, it is WFDF that decides the size and weight of each flying disc in a flying sport.

Other than the flying disc, players of both teams have to wear uniforms of two different colors so as to avoid any confusion in their identification of them.

It is prohibited and against the spirit of the game to wear any harmful items that may cause damage to players.

Rules of Ultimate Frisbee; Explained in detail

Almost every game of the planet has a defined set of rules to implement while playing it.

In addition to that, every game has an authorized person, a referee, to make the implementation of the rules possible.

Let’s imagine if there is no referee to monitor and implement the rules.

  • Can a match be played without an authorized referee?
  • Would it be possible to keep the decorum and spirit of the game intact without a referee?

The answer to these worrying questions is YES!

Probably, Ultimate Frisbee is one of those non-referee games which are fully governed and managed by their players, and that’s what makes this game incredibly ultimate.

Let’s now discuss how this game is managed successfully by the players and its official rules.

#1. The Spirit of Game

This is supposedly the first thing you come across when you try to learn Ultimate Frisbee.

This is the spirit of the game that makes it unique and interesting to play and watch. Every player holds his own responsibility to play as fairly as possible.

Let’s delve into the prerequisites of the spirit of the game of Ultimate Frisbee.

It is the first and foremost responsibility of every player to know all the rules of the game to maintain fair play and adhere strictly to its rules.

Every player must trust each other and show respect for the decisions taken by the opponent player.

Each player should know that his wrong and false decision might lead to his own ruin.

Players must be careful that they are not only participating in the match as players but are performing as referees simultaneously.

The players have to be truthful and upright while making decisions. They must prefer justice to their team.

It is the sole responsibility of players to elaborate their viewpoint honestly and also gives the considerable opportunity to the opponent to talk about the mishap or foul.

While playing, the players from both teams have to use gentle words and avoid derogatory language.

Even if there was a hot debate on any decision taken right or otherwise, the players must not utter disrespectful words.

When a teammate makes an unjust decision, his own teammate may rectify it. That’s cool.

Players of one team may appreciate their opponent for making a rightful decision.

It is against the Spirit of the Game if a Player:

  • Plays in a foul manner throughout.
  • Violates the rules of the game continuously.
  • Intimidates his opponents or taunts them after a goal.
  • Celebrates his team’s goal in a disgraceful manner.
  • Uses his hands or legs to punch or kick his opponent.
  • Stares at his opponents in a sadistic manner.
  • Shouts loudly at opponents.
  • Starts hooting as he realizes his team winning the match.


  • It is a sacred responsibility of the players to take decisions fairly and wisely so as to nourish the spirit of the game.
  • There is a relevant saying that goes like “Tit for tat.”
  • If a team plays foul, the other team will surely retaliate in due course of the match.

#2. Court Dimension

The court of Ultimate is grassy, even, flat, smooth, and rectangular in shape. It is 100 meters long and 37 meters wide.

It has two 23-meter end zones at each end of the court designated for scoring goals. Each end zone starts from the goal line and ends at the end line.

This court has two sidelines and two end lines that are not part of the playing areas and are known as perimeter lines.

Between two end zones, there is a 64-meter central zone where most of the game is played. In the central zone, there are two brick marks that are at a distance of 18 m from each goal line.

Additionally, there are 18 supple and flexible colored cones that mark the corners of the court.

Sometimes, it is recommended to mark safety outlines that may start at least 4 to 5 m from the perimeter lines to avoid the entry of any spectators, couches, or out players, which might lead to obstruction in the match.

#3. Team Composition

In Ultimate Frisbee, each team needs to have 7 on field players and a varying number of substitutes waiting outside of the court.

Ultimate can also be played with minimum 5 players on each side. One player from each team has to act as a captain.

#4. Playing Formats

It can be played by two male teams, two female teams, and even with mixed players (male and female players on each team).

#5. Positions and Roles of Players in Ultimate Frisbee

Ultimate has varied positions and roles of players in the game. Here we discuss below

I.  Positions of players in Ultimate Frisbee

There are basically only two major positions in Ultimate Frisbee, and they are:

a) Handlers

The handlers have to be near the flying disc all the time. Their ultimate aim is to provide the receivers with an easy and clear passage to take the Frisbee.

They keep on running behind the disc and try to surround it so as to make its way hurdle-free.

b) Cutters

They are the ones who actually cut the Frisbee by catching it in the deep area of the opponent’s court.

They do not surround the Frisbee rather, they aim at catching it and converting it into goals for their team.

In simple words, the cutters are responsible for scoring goals for their teams. Check out the following additional information for the position of players in Ultimate Frisbee:

  • It’s not obligatory to Pre-select the handlers and cutters. Every player can switch his rules as per the situation.
  • In Ultimate Frisbee, it is not necessary to take any specific position all the time.
  • There is no position for a goalkeeper because there is no goalpost, but a large goal area that is 37 m wide and 23 m long.
  • The players can take any position other than already occupied by the opponents.
  • Players can stand next to their opponents but should not come in contact with them at any cost. Otherwise, it will result in a foul.
  • A player should not change his position as soon as he catches the flying disc. However, he can pivot one step in any direction of his liking.
  • In case of a player jumps, he can land at his take-off position without any obstacle from his opponent.

II. The Roles of players

There are three major roles of players, and each player can perform all these roles in a single match but on different occasions. Let’s find out what these roles are.

a) Thrower

The thrower belongs to the attacking team. He is the player who takes hold of the Frisbee.

He must standstill as soon as he catches the flying disc.

As a rule, the thrower has to pivot only one foot in any direction he wants. He can change his position and move just after throwing the flying disc to his teammate or to the opponent’s end zone.

b) Marker

The marker is a defending player. He is the one who guards the thrower and tries to take hold of the Frisbee by standing very near to the thrower.

However, he must not come in contact with the thrower nor stop the thrower by means of force. The marker is responsible for stall counting (the time for holding and throwing the flying disc).

The time within which a thrower has to release the Frisbee is just 10 seconds.

c) Receiver

He belongs to the team of the thrower. The receiver is responsible for catching the disc that comes from the thrower. As per rule, a receiver has to stop as soon as he catches the disc.

He should not move further with the disc but rather throw it while standing on the spot where he has caught the disc.

However, the receiver may find his feet after catching the disc and pivot only step in any direction he wants.

Note: An attacking player becomes the receiver when he is to catch the flying disc coming from his teammate, and after receiving it, he becomes a thrower.

#6. Duration of the Match

An Ultimate match lasts for 36 minutes. It comprises 2 halves of 18 minutes.

There is a 5-minute break between the two halves. Teams can avail themselves of time time-outs.

As a rule, the clock will stop in case of goals, minor or major injuries, fouls, and flying disc (Frisbee) going out of the playing areas.

Note: As per rule, when a player takes the flying disc in his possession, has to throw it in maximum 10 seconds. If he does not throw it in 10 seconds, he will have to give the flying disc to his opponent.

#7. Starting of the Match

The match is started with the mutually agreed decision between two captains of the teams. One team can take up the task of defending, and another team can go for the throwing.

If team A takes the throw, team B has to defend.

The defending team has to choose one side of the court. These choice options are switched as soon as the second half takes place.

It means the team which defended first at the start of the match would throw the flying disc in the start of the second half of the match.

#8. Scoring System

This game depends on goals like soccer, hockey, and many other sports. To score a goal, a team has to make the Frisbee pass the central zone and enter the end-zone of its opponents.

Whereas, to win the match, a team has to score 15 goals in 36 minutes time frame.

A match comprises 2 halves of 18 minutes. A team that scores more goals than the opposing team in the first half of the match is not considered a winner since both the teams have to play another half, which might turn the tide for the opposing team.

After each goal is scored, the players have to take their respective positions and resume the game.

One of the players from the scoring team holds Frisbee and starts the pull again.

#9. Substitution Rules

Ultimate Frisbee also has the provision of substitute players like many other sports. As per the rules of Ultimate Frisbee, the players can be substituted in the following ways:

  • When an on-field player gets injured or feels sick.
  • Teams can substitute after a goal is scored.
  • They have to substitute players before a fresh pull.
  • Teams have to replace players before half-time.
  • They cannot replace players during time-outs or half-time breaks.

#10. Fouls and Penalties

Though the game is played without referees, players are responsible for calling out fouls and penalties. Let’s find out the most common fouls and penalties in Ultimate Frisbee.

This is a non-contact sport. Therefore, players should maintain distance while playing the game.

If there occurs contact between players, it is subjected to a penalty in the shape of dispossession of the Frisbee for the offender and award for the offended player. Note: Offending player loudly shouts the fouls.

If the thrower takes too long (more than 10 seconds) to throw the disc to his opponents, he is at fault, and the disc is awarded to the opposing team’s player.

It is a foul when the disc, after being thrown, goes out of bounds; the team other than the throwers that sent the disc out of the court gets its possession.

It is a foul when any player goes out of the playing area during the match.

It is a foul to make untimely substitutions.

It is a foul to violate any laws of the game that may impair the spirit of the game.

When an opponent player counts 10 seconds very fast. That is a stall count foul.

When a thrower is hindered by more than 1 marker within a 10 ft distance.

When a marker snatches the disc from the thrower before letting him release it.

Note: Most of the penalties deprive the offenders of flying disc.

#9. Skills & Techniques

To play Ultimate, it is necessary to acquire some highly useful skills to overcome one’s opponents.
Let’s find out what sort of skills a player should possess.

a) An Excellent thrower

A player has to be a better thrower than his opponents. The thrower is one who can score a goal with his ability to beat his opponents and make the Frisbee land in the opponents’ area.

Whereas a bad thrower is always a weakling for his team. A fine thrower must possess throwing skills such as a backhand thrower, a forehand throw, and an overhead or hammer throw.

He must assess the situation and know where to throw and where not to.

b) An amazing Catcher of the Disc

After throwing skills, the catching skills are also of high value for the game. Catching helps in the passing of the flying disc from one teammate to the other.

A player with better catching skills is a reliable player for the team. He must have an eye on the thrower of his all the time.

To improve catching skills, players should practice it out of the game as well.

c) A fine Runner

Last but not least, running skill is also necessary. This game is full of gamboling, sprinting, diving, and jumping for all the players except the thrower.

Players from both teams run from one corner of the court to the other in an attempt to pass the disc and score goals.

Therefore, it is imperative to improve stamina, strengthen your legs and do some cardio exercises.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Who is the inventor of Ultimate Frisbee?

Joel Silver is the inventor of Ultimate Frisbee. He was the one who gave the idea of this game to the students of a High School.

2. How long does an Ultimate Frisbee game last?

A game of Ultimate Frisbee is played for 36 minutes. It is divided into two equal halves of 18 minutes.

3. How do you score goals in Ultimate Frisbee?

For scoring a goal, the players of the attacking team have to make the Frisbee enter the End-zone of the opposing side.

4. What is a turnover in Ultimate?

A turnover means losing possession of a flying disc by means of fouls. As per rule, when a team commits a foul, its opponent team gets possession of the flying disc; a turnover is accomplished.

5. Which throw is most commonly used in Ultimate?

It is the overhead or hammer throw that is widely used in Ultimate. This throw serves the aim of covering large distances.

6. Is Ultimate a contact sport?

No, it is a non-contact sport. Players must exhibit distancing while playing this game.

7. When does the possession of the flying disc gets changed?

It gets changed when there occurs any kind of infraction, foul, or violation.

8. What is meant by pulling the disc in Ultimate?

Pulling the disc simply means throwing it off. Each throw is not considered a “Pull”. It is either the first throw of the first half or the second half or even the first throw that takes place after everyone is scored.

9. Can contact occur during Ultimate Frisbee?

As we have discussed that this game is non-contact. So, there is no way players can make contacts.

10. What is double teaming in Ultimate?

Double teaming means when two markers of defending team try to guard one thrower of the attacking team within a distance of 10 ft.

11. Is double teaming allowed in Ultimate Frisbee?

No, double teaming is against the laws of Ultimate. As per the rule, only one marker can guard the thrower.


Ultimate, being a variant of Frisbee, is arguably the most popular of all other variants.

All you need is a flying disc, a rectangular shape, and two teams of a minimum 5 and maximum 7 players to begin with. This game lasts for 36 minutes and has two halves of an equal period.

To win the match, a team has to score 15 goals before the opposing team.

This game is governed by USA Ultimate and WFDF: World Flying Disc Federation.