HISTORY OF Ultimate – Page 2 of 2

History of American Ultimate Disc League

The American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) is the newer of the two Ultimate Frisbee leagues in the United States. The AUDL was formed in April 2012 by founder Josh Moore.

The league started play with 8 teams and has grown to include 12 teams. The AUDL features two divisions, similar to the NFC and AFC in professional football. The league plays regular games from April through July, with the post season going from July to late August.

The first championship game was played in October 2012 and the first championship team in the AUDL was the Philadelphia Spinners who beat out the Indianapolis AlleyCats to win.

The league is expanding rapidly and hopes to introduce teams across the United States with some franchise agreements already signed. The American Ultimate Disc League does not yet have the reach or prestige of their competitor league, USA Ultimate, but they show promise and significant growth especially on the East Coast.

History of USA Ultimate

USA Ultimate is the first and oldest professional Ultimate Frisbee league in the world. Formed in 1979, USA Ultimate was originally known as the UPA or Ultimate Players Association but then changed their name to USA Ultimate in 2010.

USA Ultimate is comprised of three different division levels depending on skill level. They have a Youth Series for players under 18, a College Series for players in college and a Club Series which is the highest level of play for professional players.

There are more than 60 teams in various leagues in USA Ultimate and a number of different professional awards including the league MVP award and the Callaghan Trophy.

The vast majority of Ultimate Disc players play in the USA Ultimate League and it is considered to be the gold standard of Ultimate leagues worldwide. USA Ultimate events are held in every state in the United States as well as internationally.

Ultimate Lingo and Character of Play


Ultimate has its own lexicon or “lingo”. While it retains words like “pick” and “foul” as other sports, some of its unique slang include “bingo”, “blade”, “box”, “chilly”, “dump”, “flow”, “jellyroll”, “pull”, “snack food”, and “taco”.

  • bingo – is a receiver pre-designated to catch the disc in the end zone in an effort to score.
  • blade – is a throw that goes high into the air and curves hard back to the ground on its side.
  • box – a scrimmage of ultimate played with a half field and fewer players where the disc is caught in a smaller square area marked by cones.
  • chilly – is an effort to slow play and not throw the disc quickly. Used so as to not inadvertently cause a time-out.
  • dump – passing the disc backwards or an offensive player position to catch a dump pass.
  • flow – occurs when an offensive team completes a number of passes in succession to move the disc toward the end zone they are attacking.
  • jellyroll – when all players of both teams hold hands to form a long line after a game. One end begins to run around the opposite end until the line has rolled up.
  • pull – the throw that begins possession after each score.
  • snack food – a long high pass that comes near to one or more defensive players and is easily intercepted.
  • taco – a disc that is bent and wobbles in the air when thrown.

Ultimate players are known for their high character. They are willing to sacrifice self when making a play for the disc. True ambassadors of the game are unwilling to grow old (many people over 50 years old play this game effectively). Funny costumes and themed events (such as – 80’s cartoons, types of gum, dinosaurs, superheroes, etc) are commonplace in the game. If nothing else, Ultimate players are known as an interesting group.

Prominent Ultimate Frisbee Athletes

Dan Roddick

ultimate-disc7Dan Roddick is one of the early adopters of Ultimate Frisbee and was considered to be among the best Ultimate players in the world. Dan was instrumental in the creation of the World Frisbee Disc Championship in both the ultimate and the freestyle categories. Roddick is currently the director of the IFDA, or International Frisbee Disc Association. Dan Roddick is one of the first major players of Ultimate Frisbee and remains active in the sport.


Ed Headrick

Headrick, as head of Frisbee marketing at Wham-O, founded the International Frisbee Association as well as the Disc Golf Association (DGA now the PDGA). Ed also founded the first World Frisbee Disc Championships (1974). Headrick had skill in organizing events and leagues and was also a very accomplished early disc golfer and gut’s player. In 1968-69, Ed captained the California Masters Gut’s Team to victory at the International Frisbee Tournament (IFT) twice and in numerous smaller league tournaments.



Prominent Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments

ultimate-disc9The World Games -The World Games are an international sporting tournament that is comprised of sports that are not played on the official Olympic level. Typically these sports have smaller followings or very little relevance to international competition due to being located primarily in one country.

The World Games Ultimate Disc competition and this tournament is the highest level of international play for Ultimate Frisbee. There has been debate as to whether or not this is the highest level of competition, many players and fans of Ultimate believe the American leagues are much tougher simply due to the fact that the United States has by far the most players of Ultimate Frisbee.

USA Ultimate Championship Series – The UUCS is an international tournament primarily made up of Canadian and American Ultimate Players. The tournament has six levels of play, Open, Women’s, Mixed, Masters, and Juniors. This Masters section of the UUCS is considered the top level of Ultimate play and the USA Ultimate Championship Series is by far the most important Ultimate tournament to date.

Scope of Ultimate Disc Today

In recent years over 12,000 college students participated in the USA Ultimate College Division representing over 700 teams. USA Ultimate has over 30,000 members.

There are over 150 countries with Ultimate programs, and over 50 which compete on an international level

Overall, it is estimated that five million people play Ultimate in the USA – that’s more than Cheerleading, Field Hockey, Ice Hockey, Lacrosse, Paintball, Roller Hockey, Rugby, Fast-Pitch Softball, Track and Field, Grass Volleyball and Wrestling.