USA Ultimate: What is Ultimate? USA Ultimate: What is Ultimate?


What is Ultimate?

Ultimate is a non-contact, self-officiated disc sport played by two teams of seven players. The object of the game is to score goals. A goal is scored when a player catches any legal pass in the end zone that player is attacking. A player may not run while holding the disc. The disc is advanced by passing it to other players. The disc may be passed in any direction. Any time a pass is incomplete, a turnover occurs, resulting in an immediate change of the team in possession of the disc. Players are empowered to self-officiate using a framework governed by the principles of Spirit of the Game.

What is Spirit of the Game?

  1. Spirit of the Game is a set of principles which places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.
  2. All players are responsible for knowing, administering, and adhering to the rules. The integrity of ultimate depends on each player’s responsibility to uphold the Spirit of the Game, and this responsibility should remain paramount.
  3. It is assumed that no player will intentionally violate the rules; thus there are no harsh penalties for inadvertent infractions, but rather a method for resuming play in a manner that simulates what most likely would have occurred absent the infraction. An intentional infraction is cheating and considered a gross offense against the Spirit of the Game. Players are morally bound to abide by the rules and not gain advantage by knowingly committing an infraction, or calling one where none exists.

Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How many people are on a team?

A: Teams have only seven players on the field at one time, but may have as many people on their roster as they choose.  Roster limits may apply for USA Ultimate Series events.

Q: How long does a game usually last?

A: A typical game is played to 15 points and usually lasts about 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

Q: What's the difference between an observer and a referee?

A: Observers are non-players whose role is to carefully watch the action of the game and to perform any or all of the following duties: track time limits, resolve player disputes, censure or eject players for sportsmanship infractions, and render opinions on things such as line calls and off-side calls.  The difference between an observer and a referee is that in general observers only make rulings on infractions called by players and only after players have failed to resolve the issue themselves.

Q: What equipment do you need in order to play?

A: Ultimate is one of the least expensive sports to play. All that is required for a game is field space and a disc. Most players opt to wear cleats, and cones are helpful for marking the boundaries of the playing field.

Q: Are all discs the same?

A: No.  Ultimate is played with a 175 gram disc, which is heavier and sturdier than the recreational discs most people are familiar with.  The weight, diameter, shape of rim, and plastic all factor in to how the disc handles. The USA Ultimate has developed very rigorous disc standards to ensure that players have access to the highest quality discs possible.  A "USA Ultimate Approved" disc has been tested by Ultimate players and has been accepted for use by leagues, tournaments and USA Ultimate members.  In order for a disc to be considered for USA Ultimate Championship Series or other USA Ultimate hosted event the disc must undergo a more extensive, player driven review.  For a complete list of approved discs, visit the USA Ultimate website (

Q: How can I start playing?

A: There is often pickup in Syracuse on Thursdays and spring, summer, fall, and winter leagues throughout the year. Join the Google Group to hear about opportunities to play.

Q: Where can I find more info to improve my playing skills?

A:The USA Ultimate website includes links to various skills and drills that can help improve your game. The Ultimate Handbook is also a great resource for beginning and experienced players alike.

Q: How many people play Ultimate in the US?

A: According to the 2007 Sport & Fitness Participation Report conducted by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, 824,000 people report playing Ultimate at least 25 times per year or more.

Q: Will Ultimate ever become an Olympic sport?

A: USA Ultimate and WFDF (The World Flying Disc Federation) have been working to achieve the best presentation of Ultimate and other disc sports on the worldwide sport scene for some time. A major milestone in this effort occurred in 2001 when Ultimate was included in the World Games for the first time as a full medal sport.  The best possible scenario for disc sports is to continue our emphasis in each home town, each state and national community to build the sport at the grass roots level. We must work steadily to make our games better and stronger for our players which will make us increasingly attractive to various global sports organizations.  USA Ultimate was officially recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee in 2014, and WFDF received full recognition as the International Federation of flying disc sports by the International Olympic Committee in 2015.

10 Simple Rules 10 Simple Rules


1. The Field

A rectangular shape with end zones at each end. A regulation field is 70 yards long by 40 yards wide, with end zones 20 yards deep.

2. Starting Play

Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of opposite end zone lines. The defense throws (“pulls”) the disc to the offense. A regulation game has seven players per team.

3. Scoring

Each time the offense catches a pass in the defense’s end zone, the offense scores a point. The teams switch direction after every goal, and the next point begins with a new pull by the team that just scored.

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 is not completed (e.g. out of bounds, drop, block, interception, stalled), 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

Players must attempt to avoid physical contact during play. Picks and screens are also prohibited.

8. Fouls

When a player initiates contact that affects the play, a foul occurs. When a foul causes a player to lose possession, the play resumes as if the possession was retained. If the player that the foul was called against disagrees with the foul call, the play is redone.

9. Self-Officiating

Players are responsible for their own foul and line calls. Players resolve their own disputes.

10. Spirit of the Game

The foundation of the rules in ultimate is Spirit of the Game, which places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.


The complete, official USA Ultimate Rules of Ultimate with all amendments and clarifications are available online here.