WTF is Ultimate Frisbee?

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Curve competing at the Burla Open in Italy last year

Ultimate is a fast-moving team sport enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of players across the globe. We like to think of it as combining the best features of soccer, netball and American Football.

Ultimate has some unique features that set it apart from any other sport, like the lack of referees and the opportunity to play in mixed gender teams. Oh, and it’s played with a flying disc. To compete at the highest level ultimate players require speed, agility and endurance, yet beginners find this non-contact sport easy to learn and fun to play.

If you’re reading this chances are you’ve never tried before so come down to our beginners sessions, at Clissold Park on the first Sunday of every month. Find out for yourself why many think this is the ultimate team sport. Do you see what we did there? ;-)

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Pitch-pic

An outdoor game is played on a pitch similar in size to those used in football or rugby

The Basics

The two teams begin standing in opposite end zones, the disc is put into play by one team throwing down field to the other team. This is called the pull. Once in play, the disc may be moved only by passing, so the player holding the disc must stay put (but may pivot on one foot). If a team successfully advances the disc into the opposition’s end zone, that team scores a point, the teams swap directions, and the team that scored pulls to the other team.

If a pass is incomplete, intercepted, or caught out of bounds, the opposing team immediately gains possession and tries to move the disc in the other direction. Another way to change possession is when the player holding the disc, called the thrower, holds on to it for too long. A defensive player within three metres of the thrower may loudly count to 10 (in seconds), and if the disc is not thrown by the ‘T’ of ten, the opposition immediately gains possession. This defensive player is called the marker, and the audible count is called the stall count.

The game is played until an end condition is reached, typically a time limit or when one team reaches a certain number of points, typically 15. Check out the full rules of ultimate here.

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To see how the game flows check out this video of a game between USA All Stars and Japan’s Buzz Bullets, one of the world’s best club teams:

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Ian spirit

Spirit of the game

There are no referees in Ultimate. The players make their own foul calls and settle disputes according to procedures laid out in the Rules of Ultimate. Upholding the principles of fair play and ‘Spirit of the Game’ is essential to making the game work and is one of the defining aspects of the sport. The following are considered important elements of good spirit:

- Know the rules
- Avoiding fouls and body contact
- Being fair-minded and respectful
- Having a positive attitude
- Showing self-control

It’s also common to introduce yourself to your opponent at the start of game, complement them for good play or spirit during it and review the game together as teams afterwards.

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Check out this video to hear what players around the world think about the sport and spirit of the game: