What is Ultimate?

Ultimate Frisbee (just ‘Ultimate’ is fine) is a seven-on-seven, team-based sport that involves passing a Frisbee (‘disc’ is preferred) between teammates in an attempt to score in the opposition’s end zone. This is a non-contact, self-refereed and typically co-ed (at least at the recreational level) game that is played on a rectangular field with somewhat similar dimensions to soccer. It is athletic, affordable, social and fun. Okay, and sometimes a bit addictive. All you really need are a pair of cleats (soccer style recommended) and a will to learn, and you’re ready to go.

With respect to game play, you cannot run with the disc. There is a ‘pull’ (much like a kick-off in football) to initiate the game and following each score (by the scoring team). When you receive the disc you must stop and then try to make a pass to a teammate. While in possession of the disc, you have ten stall counts (as counted by a player on the opposing team) in which time you have to pass the disc.

Stalls are counted at a measured pace (say, “Stall One… Two… Three…” – DON’T rush and say, “Stall-OneTwoThree…). If in passing the disc hits the ground, goes out of bounds or is caught by the opposing team, it is a turnover and you immediately go from playing offence to playing defence. Again, this is much like soccer where you must be prepared to attack and defend in the moment. Confused? Heck, go to YouTube and search on Ultimate Frisbee, and you’ll get a sense of things.

Games typically go to 15. As we play evening games in Peterborough, we also set a timecap based on the sunset as we don’t play once it gets too dark.

One of the overriding tenets of the game of Ultimate is known as Spirit of the Game. It places the responsibility of fair play upon the player themselves (which goes back to the self-refereeing issue). Players are encouraged to play this sport to the highest of their ability without compromising the integrity of the sport by abusing the advantages that are inherent to a self-refereed game.

So what does that mean? Don’t cheat. Or you’ll be called out, likely by your teammates even before your opponents let you know. Yeah, Ultimate’s kinda’ like that. Respect the game, respect your opponents and respect the fact that we humans do have the capacity to not just live without referees, but actually thrive in their absence.

Anyhow, there’s more, but those are the broad brush strokes for now. Best thing to do is try it and make up your mind that way. Welcome to Peterborough Ultimate League (PUL). See you on the field.


And just because it’s easier to get your head around, here is a well-known list of Ten Essential Things You Need to Know About Ultimate:


  1. The Field — A rectangular shape with endzones at each end. A regulation field is 70 yards by 40 yards, with endzones 25 yards deep.
  2. Initiate Play — Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of their respective endzone line. The defense throws (“pulls”) the disc to the offense. A regulation game has seven players per team.
  3. Scoring — Each time the offense completes a pass in the defense’s endzone, the offense scores a point. Play is initiated after each score.
  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 in not completed (e.g. out of bounds, drop, block, interception), 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 — No physical contact is allowed between players. Picks and screens are also prohibited. A foul occurs when contact is made.
  8. Fouls — When a player initiates contact on another player a foul occurs. When a foul disrupts possession, the play resumes as if the possession was retained. If the player committing the foul disagrees with the foul call, the play is redone.
  9. Self-Refereeing — Players are responsible for their own foul and line calls. Players resolve their own disputes.
  10. Spirit of the Game — Ultimate stresses sportsmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.