• Introduction
  • The object of the game
  • Scoring in ultimate frisbee
  • Serving rules of ultimate frisbee – ”the pull”
  • Gameplay
  • Fouls
  • Game intervals
  • The ultimate frisbee field
  • Rules and regulations of ultimate frisbee equipment
  • Other rules of ultimate frisbee
  • Sources


  • Point: A point is scored when a player catches the disc with both feet in the other team’s end zone. 
  • Game: A game ends when the first team reaches the game total (usually 15pts) with at least a two point lead or when the time runs out (usually 60-90mins). 

Intervals and changes

  • Teams switch sides after every point.
  • There is a 90s break before the next pull.
  • Half time happens when the first team reaches at least half of the game total (usually 8pts).
  • Half time lasts 10mins
  • Both teams have two 70s timeouts per half.
  • Players may be substituted after every point.

Serving rules – ”the pull”

  • The defending team may pull (throw) the disc to the other team once both teams are in their own end zones.
  • If the disc goes out of bounds, the other team may decide to continue where it goes out of bounds or to start from the brick mark. 
  • The team that was scored on must walk to the other end zone and wait for the next pull.


  • Played in a 7 vs 7 format (beach & indoor versions are 5 vs 5).
  • Players may pass in every direction.
  • Possession changes when a pass is incomplete or the disc goes out of bounds. 
  • Players may not move with the disc (pivots are allowed).
  • The marker/defender may not come closer than the diameter of the disc to the thrower.
  • The marker/defender may not hit the disc off another player’s hand.
  • Only one player can defend the player with the disc. 


Ultimate frisbee has an interesting history that started in 1968 when Joel Silver introduced his idea to the student council of Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. One year later, the school had its first ultimate frisbee games. 

The first official rules of ultimate frisbee were introduced in 1970, which contained regulations for gameplay and field dimensions. On the other hand, the first intercollegiate ultimate game was played on November 6th, 1972 between Rutgers and Princeton. What makes this interesting is that the same universities also played the first college-level football game exactly 103 years prior. The first National Collegiate Tournament was played in 1975 in Yale.

Due to trademark issues with the word ”frisbee”, which is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers, ultimate frisbee is officially known simply as ultimate. However, both names are used in common language. Nowadays, ultimate no longer uses frisbees but specialized discs made to exact measurements.

Since its inception, ultimate has grown steadily, and now sports a healthy following of over 5 million active players. Its biggest events include the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) and the Premier Ultimate League (PUL). Ultimate is also recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) making it eligible for future Olympics

The object of the game

The object of ultimate frisbee is to catch a flying disc in your opponent’s end zone. Thus, scoring a point. On the other hand, the opposing team has the same goal as they try to score more points than your team. The team that scores a predetermined amount of points first, or the one with the most points at the end of a specific timeframe, wins the game.

Scoring in ultimate frisbee

To score a point in ultimate frisbee, a player must catch the disc in the opposing team’s end zone with both feet on the ground. The game ends when the first team reaches the game total (usually 15pts) or when the time runs out. Most ultimate games have a game total and point cap for points, as well as a soft cap and a hard cap for the duration of the game. 

  • Game total: 15pts
  • Point cap: 17pts
  • Soft cap: 60mins
  • Hard cap: max 90mins

Point caps are used as the main method to declare the winning team. In ultimate, a team must reach the game total and have a lead of at least two points. If both teams are tied 16-16, the point cap comes into play. This means that the team that scores the next point wins the game.

Time caps come into play when the game has continued for a long time. A soft cap means that after 60mins of gameplay, the play continues until the current scoring attempt has ended. If the game total hasn’t been reached, the team with the higher score gets one more point. The resulting number becomes the new game total, and the team wins the game. However, if the elapsed time and the current scoring attempt have ended in a tie, a hard cap comes into play. This continues until one additional point is scored. 

Serving rules of ultimate frisbee – ”the pull”

At the beginning of a game, the captains of both teams gather at the center to discuss the rules and flip for a disc. This determines which team starts first.

Once both teams are inside their own end zones, the team with the disc raises it to signal that they are ready to start the game. The other team’s captain then raises their hand as a sign that they are ready to receive. The defending team ”pulls” (throws) the disc to the attacking team, starting the gameplay.

If the pull lands out of bounds, the attacking team may decide to continue where the disc landed or to start from the brick mark. However, if the disc rolls out of bounds, the team doesn’t have the option to “brick”.

After every point, the team that was scored on walks to the opposite end zone and waits for the next pull. This means that teams switch ends after every point. 


Ultimate is mixed sport played in a 7 vs 7 format. While there are no rules on how many men or women can be in one team, most captains agree on a 5-2 ratio (five men and two women). 

Once the game has started, players are allowed to move freely on the field and pass the disc in every direction. However, players are not allowed to move with the disc and they must pass it to the next player within 10 seconds.

Possession changes when the intended pass is not completed. This means that the player is unable to catch the disc, or the marker, also known as a defender, intercepts the pass. Note that even if the marker drops the disc when intercepting, their team may still continue from where the disc has dropped. The possession also changes if the disc flies or rolls out of bounds. In this case, the opposing team may resume gameplay from where the disc went over the line.

What makes ultimate frisbee unique from other sports is its spirit of the game mentality. This means that there is no official referee and it is up to the players to ensure the games are played fairly and according to the official rules of the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF).


Fouls can occur in several ways during a game. The most common fouls include;

  • Physical contact
  • Double-teaming (more than one marker/defender guarding one player)
  • The marker is too close to the player (closer than the diameter of a disc to the thrower)
  • The marker hits the disc out of a player’s hand (also known as a check)
  • Screening (purposefully standing in the way of another player)

The outcome of a foul depends on whether it is contested or not. This means that the accused must agree on the call and give the fouled player a redo where the foul occurred. If the majority of players disagree on a call, it will be considered neutral and will not benefit either team. After a foul, the marker touches the disc in the thrower’s hand to signal that the game can be resumed. 

Game intervals

According to the official rules of ultimate frisbee, each game consists of two halves. Half time occurs when the first team reaches at least half of the game total. For example, in a game to 15 points, half time starts when the first team reaches 8 points. The standard length of a half time is 10 minutes. 

When switching ends after every point, teams are allowed a 90s break before the next pull. Additionally, teams may also substitute players during this time.

On top of this, teams also are allowed to use two 70s timeouts per half. This is done by forming a ”T” with the disc in one hand and audibly saying ”timeout”. The disc is placed on the ground to mark the location where the game continues after the break. Once the timeout is done, the same player continues from the same position where the disc is. 

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Ultimate frisbee relies on the spirit of the game - and has no official referees.

The ultimate frisbee field

An ultimate frisbee field is divided into a 64m (70yds) playing field, also known as a central zone, and two 18m (20yds) end zones on opposite ends of the field. The width of the field is 37m (40yds). Each corner where two lines meet is marked by a cone. 

An ultimate frisbee field also has two brick marks in the center of the playing field, 18m (20yds) from the end zone line. This marks the position where teams may choose to start from if the other team’s pull goes out of bounds. 

Ultimate frisbee is usually played on natural grass or artificial grass-like surface, such as astroturf. However, the game can also be played on the beach or indoors. Both of which share similar overall rules but are played in 4-5 person teams. 

Rules and regulations of ultimate frisbee equipment

Aside from regular sportswear, athletic shoes, and a team jersey, ultimate frisbee only requires one thing – the disc.

The discs have a weight of 175g (6.2oz), a diameter of 27.5cm (10.75in), and a recommended rim-edge curvature of 0.4cm (0.15in). The discs should also have flight stabilizing grooves and a cavity spot for enhancing aerodynamic lift and reduce drag when in motion. These discs are usually made from polyethylene or other hard plastic that offers both performance and durability. 

During gameplay, players may use either regular sneakers or cleats with molded rubber studs. For safety reasons, metal cleats and screw-in cleats are not allowed. 

Other rules of ultimate frisbee

Teams must provide their own discs for any competitive game or tournament. The disc that is used for gameplay must be decided by the captains at the start of the game. 

If a player gets injured, any player from the same team may call a timeout. Injury timeouts are retroactive to the time of injury unless the player decides to continue gameplay before the timeout is called. If the player decides to continue, the timeout starts when the play is completed. If the player needs to be substituted, the replacing player will start the game from the pivot spot. Additionally, all players must go to the same locations on the field at the time of the injury. However, if the player is not substituted, the team must use a team timeout. If the team has no timeouts left, it is ruled as a turnover for the opposing team.

Technical timeouts may be called for illegal equipment, broken disc, or other dangerous conditions. The play will continue from the same location once the technical reason has been dealt with. The captains of both teams can also call spirit timeouts for dangerous or unsportsmanlike conduct. Once the situation has been resolved, the game will resume according to the result of the call, and from the same location where the timeout was called.

Did you learn anything new about the rules of ultimate frisbee? Let us know in the comments. 

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