What are the official rules for playing Ultimate?

By: Echo Surina

Ultimate Rules

Ultimate is played by men and women, children and adults all over the world.
Ultimate is played by men and women, children and adults all over the world.

You can't play any sport without specific rules, and regardless if you want to gather some friends for an impromptu round of Ultimate or are planning on attending a professional game, it's imperative to know how it's played.

One of the most important rules in Ultimate involves passing. A pass that doesn't reach the intended party is considered incomplete. An incomplete pass results in a change of possession, which means the team playing defense immediately switches to play offense and assumes possession of the disc wherever it came to a stop on the field.


Play does not stop for turnovers, which may be any of the following:

  • Stall: Player fails to throw the disc before the end of the stall count
  • Throwaway: Disc doesn't reach its target and falls to the ground
  • Drop: Receiver fails to catch the disc
  • Block: Disc in mid-flight is deflected and falls to the ground
  • Interception: Offense throws the disc but it's caught by defense
  • Out of bounds: Disc lands out of bounds or hits something out of bounds

Play only stops for the following:

  • Fouls: Players come into physical contact with each other
  • Violations: Player violates any rules of the game
  • Non-injury time outs: Team calls for a timed break
  • Halftime: 10-minute break in the middle of the game
  • Injuries: Hurt player is replaced on the field
  • Weather: Weather conditions prohibit play
  • Substitutions: Teams substitute players after a goal is scored
  • Refereeing: Player calls out a perceived violation or foul
  • Observers: Call is made by non-players who have the power to resolve disputes

Once you know the rules, Ultimate is easy to play and engaging to watch. If you're at all curious about the sport, we advise that you seek out a local team and catch a game or buy a disc and start playing yourself. We guarantee you'll have a good time!

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More Great Links


  • Disc Ace. "Ultimate Frisbee Rules." 2011. (Aug. 4, 2011)
  • Norman, Andy, Chris O'Lare, Ben Banyas and Erin Steven. "The Next Page: Ultimate: The Booming Sport You Might Not Know About." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 19, 2011. (Aug. 4, 2011)
  • USA Ultimate. "The 'Founders.'" 2010. (Aug. 4, 2011)
  • World Flying Disc Federation. "WFDF Rules." 2011. (Aug. 4, 2011)