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The Game Of Ultimate - Short Rules Print
Ultimate - About The Game

Ultimate is a high-energy sport that combines the best aspects of sport. Ultimate players outrun, outjump, outthrow, outcatch, and outthink their opponents all while showing a healthy respect for the spirit of sportsmanship.

Ultimate is a non-contact field sport played by two teams of seven players each. The object of the game is for a team to pass the disc from player to player, all the way up the field, and catch the disc in their end-zone, which scores a point. Players cannot run with the disc, but must plant a pivot foot (as in basketball) and throw the disc to a teammate. When holding the disc, a player gets ten seconds to throw it.

If the offensive team fails to complete any pass, whether through defensive effort or an unforced error, the former defensive team picks up the disc where it lands and works to score in the opposite direction. Defenses employ both man-to-man and zone strategies in their attempts to force a turnover.

The most important part of Ultimate is "The Spirit of the Game". This is used to describe the respect that every player in the game has for the rules and their fellow players. No referees exist. Instead, the players themselves officiate. Implicit in Ultimate is the assumption that no one will cheat to gain an unfair advantage.

This principle is what makes Ultimate special to so many people, and all Ultimate players try to keep the Spirit alive by maintaining this high level of trust, no matter how competitive the game becomes.

The best way to see how Ultimate is played is to find a local league in your area. Ultimate players share a great camaraderie, and they LOVE to introduce new players to the sport. So come on out and play!


Ultimate in Ten Simple Rules Steve Courlang, UPA Juniors Director Copyright (c) Ultimate Players Association, 1993


  1. The Field -- A rectangular shape with endzones at each end. A regulation field is 70 yards by 40 yards, with endzones 25 yards deep.

  2. Initiate Play -- Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of their respective endzone line. The defense throws ("pulls") the disc to the offense. A regulation game has seven players per team.

  3. Scoring -- Each time the offense completes a pass in the defense's endzone, the offense scores a point. Play is initiated after each score.

  4. Movement of the Disc -- The disc may be advanced in any direction by completing a pass to a teammate. Players may not run with the disc. The person with the disc ("thrower") has ten seconds to throw the disc. The defender guarding the thrower ("marker") counts out the stall count.

  5. Change of possession -- When a pass in not completed (e.g. out of bounds, drop, block, interception), the defense immediately takes possession of the disc and becomes the offense.

  6. Substitutions -- Players not in the game may replace players in the game after a score and during an injury timeout.

  7. Non-contact-- No physical contact is allowed between players. Picks and screens are also prohibited. A foul occurs when contact is made.

  8. Fouls -- When a player initiates contact on another player a foul occurs. When a foul disrupts possession, the play resumes as if the possession was retained. If the player committing the foul disagrees with the foul call, the play is redone.

  9. Self-Refereeing -- Players are responsible for their own foul and line calls. Players resolve their own disputes.

  10. Spirit of the Game -- Ultimate stresses sportsmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.




Spirit Of The Game

Every so often I am asked by some players, as I am sure a lot of you are, what is "The Spirit Of The Game". I usually respond "Ask John Harris" (As of October 2, 1999 John has been playing Ultimate for 20 years!).

In August 99 I had the opportunity to play with a coed team at the World Clubs Championship in St Andrews Scotland. 4 days into the tournament our captain was approached by a foreign player who he was aquainted with from other World Tournaments. He told our captain that his girlfriend had been cut from his team halfway through the tournament because she wasn't good enough. She was obviously quite devastated and depressed by this turn of events and he wanted to know if she could play with our team for the rest of the tournament. Our captain thought about it and decided to have a team meeting on the side of the field.

We discussed the pros and cons of this decision. We had all paid a lot of money to get there and, since at Worlds Coed you can play 4-3 or 3-4, it would reduce the playing time of all the members of the team. We talked about it for sometime and then we had a team vote. Our team voted unanimously that she could join our team.

She had been down the field a bit from us and our captain called her over to our group. He informed her that she was now an official member of our team and presented her with team shirts he had conveniently had with him. She held one up to make sure it would fit but our team wouldn't let her leave until she actually put the shirt on. Having done that we all cheered our new member. At that point her boyfriend started to cry and I almost did to. It was a very touching moment and one I'll never forget.

So from now on when people ask me what is "The Spirit Of The Game" I'm going to tell them that story.

John Hurlbut
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