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Wednesday, 23 January 2019, 00:00

Ultimate Frisbee

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Game Description

Our program will teach the fundamentals of Ultimate Frisbee. Ultimate Frisbee is a noncontact, fast paced field sport played with two teams of seven. The object is to throw a frisbee up the field from teammate to teammate until it’s  caught in the opponent’s endzone. The game combines elements from other sports – the running of soccer, the jumping, pivoting, passing and continual turnovers from offence to defense of basketball, and the long bombs into the endzone of football.

Source & Introduction: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimate_(sport)

Spirit of the game

All youth and most club ultimate games are self-officiated through the “spirit of the game”, often abbreviated SOTG. Spirit of the game is described by WFDF as an expectation that each player will be a good sport and play fair, as well as having high values of integrity; including “following and enforcing the rules”.[64] SOTG is further contextualized and described in the rules established by USA Ultimate; according to The Official Rules of Ultimate, 11th Edition:[65]

Ultimate has traditionally relied upon a spirit of sportsmanship which places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play. Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate adverse conduct from the ultimate field. Such actions as taunting of opposing players, dangerous aggression, intentional fouling, or other ‘win-at-all-costs’ behavior are contrary to the spirit of the game and must be avoided by all players.


Ultimate playing field

A point is scored when one team catches the disc in the opposing team’s end zone.

Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of their respective end zone line. Standing beyond the end zone line before the disc is thrown by the defense (a “pull”) to the offense is known as an “offsides” violation. A regulation grass outdoor game has seven players per team. In mixed ultimate, usually it is 4-3, meaning either 4 men and 3 women at a time or 4 women and 3 men on the line. The offensive end zone dictates whether there are more men or women. This end zone is called the ‘gen-zone’, short for gender zone.

In ultimate, there is no concept of intentional vs. unintentional fouls: infractions are called by the players themselves and resolved in such a way as to minimize the impact of such calls on the outcome of the play (sometimes resulting in “do-overs” where the disc is returned to the last uncontested possession), rather than emphasizing penalties or “win-at-all-costs” behavior. If a player disagrees with a foul that was called on them, they can choose to “contest” the infraction. In many instances, a conversation ensues between both parties involved in the foul, and a verdict is determined as to whether the disk will be returned and a “do-over” will commence, or if the person guilty of the foul has no objections to the call. A common infraction, intentional or not, is a “pick” where the offense (or your own team member even) is somehow in the way of your pursuit of your “person” in person defense. This only applies when you are within 10 feet of your “person” and the game play is stopped so that the players involved go back to where the “pick” occurred. The integrity of ultimate depends on each player’s responsibility to uphold the spirit of the game.

The player holding the disc establishes a pivot point (i.e. they cannot run with the disc, just step out from a single point). They have up to three steps to slow down after catching a disc, without changing direction, to establish that pivot point. A violation of this is called a “travel”. The disc is advanced by throwing it to teammates. If a pass is incomplete, it is a “turnover” and the opposing team immediately gains possession, playing to score in the opposite direction. Passes are incomplete if they are caught by a defender, touch the ground (meaning defenders need only knock the disc out of the air to gain possession), or touch an out-of-bounds object (including the ground, or an out-of-bounds player). Once possession of the disk is obtained, however, it cannot be forced out of the throwers possession before it leaves their hand. A common infraction of this nature is called a “strip”, in which one player feels that they had enough possession of the disc to stop its rotation before it was taken out of their hand. However, if a player jumps from in bounds, catches, and then throws the disc while in the air and technically out of bounds, the disc is still in play and can be caught or defended by players on the field. This feat of athleticism and precision is highly praised, and dubbed “Greatest.”

Ultimate is non-contact. Non-incidental, play-affecting, or dangerous physical contact is not allowed. Non-incidental contact is a foul, regardless of intent, with various consequences depending on the situation and the league rules. Incidental contact, like minor collisions while jumping for the disc or running for it can be acceptable, depending on the circumstances. Parameters like who has the “right” for the relevant space, who got the disc etc. will determine whether a foul has been committed or not. Attitudes can vary between leagues and countries, even if the letter of the rule remains the same.

Contact is also disallowed for the defender marking the offense player with the disc, and there are further restrictions on positions this defender can take in order to minimize incidental contact.[33]

Defending against the person who has the disc is a central part of the defensive strategy (colloquially “marking”). The defensive “marker” counts aloud to 10 seconds, which is referred to as “stalling”. If the disc has not been thrown when the defending player reaches 10, it is turned over to the other team. “Stall” can be only be called after the defender has actually counted the 10 seconds.[34] In order for the “mark” to be considered as counting all the way to ten, the thrower must throw the disc before the mark is able to say the “T” in the word ten. If the mark is accused of counting too fast (called a “fast-count”), then the thrower can call a violation, in which the mark then has to subtract two seconds from their previous stall count. There can only be one player defending in a 3-meter radius around the person who has the disc unless that player is defending against another offensive player. The marker must stay one disc’s diameter away from the thrower and must not wrap their hands around the thrower, or the person with the disc can call a foul (“wrapping”).

Ultimate is predominantly self-refereed, relying on the on-field players to call their own infractions and to try their best to play within the rules of the game. It is assumed that players will not intentionally violate the rules and will be honest when discussing foul calls with opponents. This is called Spirit of the Game.[5] After a call is made, the players should agree on an outcome, based on what they think happened and how the rules apply to that situation. If players cannot come to agreement on the call’s validity, the disc can be given back to the last uncontested thrower, with play restarting as if before the disputed throw.

Each point begins with the two teams starting in opposite end zones. The team who scored the previous point are now on defense. The teams indicate their readiness by raising a hand, and the team on defense will throw the disc to the other team. This throw is called a “pull”. When the pull is released, all players are free to leave their end zones and occupy any area on the field. Both teams should not leave the end-zone before the pull is released. Thus, the defending team must run most of the field length at speed to defend immediately. And a good pull is designed to hang in the air as long as possible to give the defending team time to make the run.

Strategy and tactics


Player trying to score.

Teams can employ many different offensive strategies, each with distinct goals. Most basic strategies are an attempt to create open space (e.g. lanes) on the field in which the thrower and receiver can complete a pass. Organized teams assign positions to the players based on their specific strengths. Designated throwers are called handlers and designated receivers are called cutters. The amount of autonomy or overlap between these positions depends on the make-up of the team.

Many advanced teams develop variations on the basic offenses to take advantage of the strengths of specific players. Frequently, these offenses are meant to isolate a few key players in one-on-one situations, allowing them more freedom of movement and the ability to make most of the plays, while the others play a supporting role.

Handlers and cutters

In most settings, there are a few “handlers” which are the players positioned around the disc, and their task is to distribute the disc forward, and provide easy receiving options to whoever has the disc. Cutters, are the players positioned downfield, whose job is usually to catch the disc farther afield and progress the disc through the field or score goals by catching the disc in the end zone.

Typically, when the offense is playing against a zone defense the cutters will be assigned positions based on their location on the field, oftentimes referred to as “poppers and rails.” Poppers will typically make cuts within 15 yards of the handler positions while rails alternate between longer movements downfield. Additionally, against a zone there will usually be three handlers rather than two, and sometimes even four.

Vertical stack

The standard configuration for a vertical stack (offense and force/one-to-one defense)

One of the most common offensive strategies is the vertical stack. In this strategy, a number of offensive players line up between the disc and the end zone they are attacking. From this position, players in the stack make cuts (sudden sprints, usually after throwing off the defender by a “fake” move the other way) into the space available, attempting to get open and receive the disc. The stack generally lines up in the middle of the field, thereby opening up two lanes along the sidelines for cuts, although a captain may occasionally call for the stack to line up closer to one sideline, leaving open just one larger cutting lane on the other side. Variations of the vertical stack include the Side Stack, where the stack is moved to a sideline and one player is isolated in the open space, and the Split Stack, where players are split between two stacks, one on either sideline. The Side Stack is most helpful in an end zone play where your players line up on one side of the end zone and the handler calls an “ISO” (isolation) using one of the player’s names. This then signals for the rest of the players on your team to clear away from that one person in order for them to receive a pass.[43] In vertical stack offenses, one player usually plays the role of ‘dump’, offering a reset option which sets up behind the player with the disc.

Horizontal stack

Another popular offensive strategy is the horizontal stack. In the most popular form of this offense, three “handlers” line up across the width of the field with four “cutters” downfield, spaced evenly across the field. This formation encourages cutters to attack any of the space either towards or away from the disc, granting each cutter access to the full width of the field and thereby allowing a degree more creativity than is possible with a vertical stack. If cutters cannot get open, the handlers swing the disc side to side to reset the stall count and in an attempt to get the defense out of position. Usually players will cut towards the disc at an angle and away from the disc straight, creating a ‘diamond’ or ‘peppermill’ pattern.[44][45][46][47]

Feature, German, or isolation

A variation on the horizontal stack offense is called a feature, German, or isolation (or “iso” for short). In this offensive strategy three of the cutters line up deeper than usual (this can vary from 5 yards farther downfield to at the endzone) while the remaining cutter lines up closer to the handlers. This closest cutter is known as the “feature”, or “German”. The idea behind this strategy is that it opens up space for the feature to cut, and at the same time it allows handlers to focus all of their attention on only one cutter. This maximizes the ability for give-and-go strategies between the feature and the handlers. It is also an excellent strategy if one cutter is superior to other cutters, or if they are guarded by someone slower than them. While the main focus is on the handlers and the feature, the remaining three cutters can be used if the feature cannot get open, if there is an open deep look, or for a continuation throw from the feature itself. Typically, however, these three remaining cutters do all they can to get out of the feature’s way.[48] It is usually used near the endzone.

Hexagon or Mexican

A newer strategy, credited to Felix Shardlow from the Brighton Ultimate team, is called Hexagon Offence. Players spread out in equilateral triangles, creating a hexagon shape with one player (usually not the thrower) in the middle. They create space for each other dynamically, aiming to keep the disc moving by taking the open pass in any direction. This maximizes options, changes the angles of attack rapidly, and hopes to create and exploit holes in the defense. Whereas vertical and horizontal aim to open up space for individual yard-gaining throws, Hex aims to generate and maintain flow to lead to scoring opportunities.[49]


The marker blocking the handler’s access to half of the field. TartuEstonia.


The pull is the first throw of the game and also begins each period of play. A strong accurate pull is an important part of a defensive strategy. A pullers responsibility is to start the offense as deep into their own end-zone as conditions will permit, giving the defense time to get set up before the first offensive pass, or in the case of a deep end-zone pull, chooses to run up to the front of their end-zone line and begin their offense at yard zero.[50] A pull is not limited to any certain throw. Although most players huck deep back hands, this is not a requirement.


One of the most basic defensive principles is the “force” or “mark”. The defender marking the thrower essentially tries to force them to throw in a particular direction (to the “force side” or “open side”), whilst making it difficult for them to throw in the opposite direction (the “break side”). Downfield defenders make it hard for the receiving players to get free on the open/force side, knowing throws to the break side are less likely to be accurate. The space is divided in this way because it is very hard for the player marking the disc to stop every throw, and very hard for the downfield defenders to cover every space.

The force can be decided by the defence before the point or during play. The most common force is a one-way force, either towards the “home” side (where the team has their bags/kit), or “away”. Other forces are “sideline” (force towards the closest sideline), “middle” (force towards the center of the field), “straight up” (the force stands directly in front of the thrower – useful against long throwers), or “sidearm/backhand” if one wishes their opponents to throw a particular throw. Another, more advanced marking technique is called the “triangle mark”. This involves shuffling and drop stepping to take away throwing angles in an order that usually goes: 1) take away shown throw “inside” 2) shuffle to take away 1st pivot “around” 3) drop step and shuffle to take away 2nd pivot 4) recover.[51][52][53]


Marking with a force

The simplest defensive strategy is the match-to-match defense (also known as “one-to-one” or “person-to-person”), where each defender guards a specific offensive player, called their “mark”. This defense creates one-to-one matchups all over the field – if each defender shuts out their mark, the team will likely earn a turn over. The defensive players will usually choose their mark at the beginning of the point before the pull. Often players will mark the same person throughout the game, giving them an opportunity to pick up on their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses as they play.[54]


With a zone defensive strategy, the defenders cover an area rather than a specific person. The area they cover varies depending on the particular zone they are playing, and the position of the disc. Zone defense is frequently used in poor weather conditions, as it can pressure the offense into completing more passes, or the thrower into making bigger or harder throws. Zone defence is also effective at neutralising the deep throw threat from the offense. A zone defense usually has two components – (1) a number of players who stay close to the disc and attempt to contain the offenses’ ability to pass and move forward (a “cup” or “wall”), and (2) a number of players spaced out further from the disc, ready to bid on overhead or longer throws.[55][56][57]


An offensive player tries to play through a three-person cup defense during an informal game.

The cup involves three players, arranged in a semi-circular cup-shaped formation, one in the middle and back, the other two on the sides and forward. One of the side players marks the handler with a force, while the other two guard the open side. Therefore, the handler will normally have to throw into the cup, allowing the defenders to more easily make blocks. With a cup, usually the center cup blocks the up-field lane to cutters, while the side cup blocks the cross-field swing pass to other handlers. The center cup usually also has the responsibility to call out which of the two sides should mark the thrower, usually the defender closest to the sideline of the field. The idea of the cup is to force the offense into making many short passes behind and around the cup. The cup (except the marker) must also remember to stay 3 meters or more away from the offensive player with the disc. The only time a player in the cups can come within 3 meters of the player with the disc is when another offensive player comes within 3 meters of the person with the disc, also known as “crashing the cup”.[55]


The “wall” sometimes referred to as the “1-3-3″ involves four players in the close defense. One player is the marker, also called the “rabbit”, “chaser” or “puke” because they often have to run quickly between multiple handlers spread out across the field. The other three defenders form a horizontal “wall” or line across the field in front of the handler to stop throws to short in-cuts and prevent forward progress. The players in the second group of a zone defense, called “mids” and “deeps”, position themselves further out to stop throws that escape the cup and fly upfield. A variation of the 1-3-3 is to have two markers: The “rabbit” marks in the middle third and strike side third of the field. The goal is for the “rabbit” to trap the thrower and collapse a cup around her or him. If the rabbit is broken for large horizontal yardage, or if the disc reaches the break side third of the field, the break side defender of the front wall marks the throw. In this variation the force is directed one way. This variation plays to the strength of a superior marking “rabbit”.[58][59]

Junk or clam

A junk defense is a defense using elements of both zone and match defenses; the most well-known is the “clam” or “chrome wall”. In clam defenses, defenders cover cutting lanes rather than zones of the field or individual players. It is so named because, when played against a vertical stack, it is often disguised by lining up in a traditional person defense and right before play starts, defenders spread out to their zonal positions, forming the shape of an opening clam. The clam can be used by several players on a team while the rest are running a match defense. Typically, a few defenders play match on the throwers while the cutter defenders play as “flats”, taking away in cuts by guarding their respective areas, or as the “deep” or “monster”, taking away any deep throws.

This defensive strategy is often referred to as “bait and switch”. In this case, when the two players the defenders are covering are standing close to each other in the stack, one defender will move over to shade them deep, and the other will move slightly more towards the thrower. When one of the receivers makes a deep cut, the first defender picks them up, and if one makes an in-cut, the second defender covers them. The defenders communicate and switch their marks if their respective charges change their cuts from in to deep, or vice versa. The clam can also be used by the entire team, with different defenders covering in cuts, deep cuts, break side cuts, and dump cuts.

The term “junk defense” is also often used to refer to zone defenses in general (or to zone defense applied by the defending team momentarily, before switching to a match defense), especially by members of the attacking team before they have determined which exact type of zone defense they are facing.[60][61][62]

Hexagon or flexagon

A separate type of defense is hexagon or “flexagon”, which incorporates elements of both match-to-match and zonal defense. All defenders are encouraged to communicate, to sandwich their opponents and switch marks wherever appropriate, and to ensure no opposing player is left unmarked.[63]

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