Ultimate Disc Rules

The major governing rules organizations of Ultimate:

True to its name, the sport of Ultimate disc offers the ultimate combination of exercise and fun. Players divided into two teams throw a light 10.5 inch, 175 gram flying disc or frisbee about the field slightly smaller than the one used for football. To win, a team needs to score the highest number of goals by catching the disc at the opponent’s end of the field.

The international ruling body for Ultimate Disc is the World Flying Disc Federation. The ruling bodies for the United States are United States of America Ultimate (USAU) and the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). There are over 150 known countries with Ultimate Disc programs, and more than 50 countries compete every 4 years at the WFDF’s World Ultimate Championships, the Olympics of Ultimate Disc.

It is a game with simple rules governed by two bodies; the USA Ultimate and the American Ultimate Disc League or AUDL. There are slight differences in their set of rules with the AUDL’s being stricter.

Team and Equipment Rules:

Each Ultimate flying disc team has seven players wearing a common uniform, but with unique numbering. They need a minimum of five stand-by players each, also wearing full uniform and ready to play if required.

The AUDL allows a team’s active roster to have a maximum of 20 players. Metal cleats are banned because they can injure the players. The disc or Frisbee used has to be acceptable to both team captains; in case of disagreement, an officially approved disc of the USA Ultimate or the AUDL is used.

Game Rules:

At the start, teams stand in front of their own end zone lines. The team holding the disc is the offense. The offense throws the disc long to the defense; this is called a pull. Similar to a punt or kickoff in football.

Each team then tries to pass the disc between its own players and make ground contact in the end zone defended by the opponents; this is called scoring a goal.

They can move the disc by passing it to each other, but may not run with the disc in their possession. Any player that catches a pass should pivot before passing it to another player; this is a posture having one foot firmly on the ground and the other foot swung left or right for a more effective and well-directed throw of the disc (or frisbee).

If the pass is dropped, thrown out of bounds or caught by an opponent, a turnover is committed and the other team (defense) gains immediate possession of the disc.

Throwing Rules:

The offensive player in possession of the disc is the thrower.

The defense player within three meters of the thrower’s pivot (say pivot foot), is called the marker. The defensive player within three meters of the throwers pivot from the spot where the disc will be put into play after a time-out, is also called the marker.

The thrower needs sufficient space to throw the frisbee properly; this is called the disc-space. Regulations say that the marker should give the thrower a disc-space of at least one disc diameter.

The marker keeps the time limit or stall-count for the thrower to release the disc by counting aloud from one to ten, spaced at one-second intervals. AUDL rules of Ultimate disc have a maximum stall count of seven. Reaching this count results in a turnover.

Timing Rules USA Ultimate:

USA Ultimate does not put a time-limit on the duration of the game; it is score-capped instead.

The “Game Total” is the predetermined number of goals needed to win. Teams must win by at least two goals.

To stop the possibility of an unending game, a pre-set maximum score limit beyond the game total determines the winner. This is called a point cap. A standard Ultimate game has a game total of 15 and a point cap of 17.

To have control over the duration of play for low scoring games, a soft time cap comes into effect after a preset time from the start of play. Any team leading by a preset goal difference, usually 2, during this period is the winner.

Further, a preset duration after the soft time cap kicks in, a hard time cap is called. The game is ended and the leading team is declared winner. In case of a tie, play continues until one team scores a goal.

Half-time is taken after the first 2 quarters and lasts 10- 30 minutes. The length of the Halftime is determined by the Home team at least 24 hours in advance.

Overtime of 5 minutes kicks in when both teams are tied at a score which is one less than the game total.

Timing Rules American Ultimate Disc League:

The AUDL Ultimate game is time-bound.

Playing time is divided into four 12 minute-long quarters.

Half-time is taken after each quarter and lasts for 15 minutes in total.

First and second overtime of 5 minutes each is taken when there is a tied score at the end of the final quarter and at the end of the first overtime, respectively.

In both versions of the game, a team is entitled to two time-outs in each half and one time-out during overtime. Time-out breaks last 90 seconds and stall-counting stops.

Spirit of the Game:

USA Ultimate does not expect intentional player violations and there is no refereeing or penalties. Players solve their own line call or foul disputes. Bigger events appoint non-playing observers to announce approaching and expired time-limits, resolve ongoing disputes between players and take decisions in line calls.

The AUDL, however, appoints officials to do the same and also rate fouls based on severity.

Ultimate disc was invented as a fun game based on fair play and sportsmanship. The governing rules maintain these important principles.

The major governing rules organization of Ultimate Disc are:

World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF): http://wfdf.org
American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL): /
USA Ultimate (USAU):

Other Countries with significant Ultimate membership:

Ultimate Canada: /
Australian Flying Disc Association: /
United Kingdom Ultimate: /
see a complete list of WFDF members on the official site by clicking here