“Oh! You wanna’ bet?”

OK, You can throw, you can, catch, you can cut, and you can play defense. Now you can actually PLAY ULTIMATE!!!!

But first, you should have these.

Yes, despite the hippy-counterculture branding, Ultimate does have rules, and although it will be easy to pick up on the rules as you go, there are a few rules you should get to know before you start playing. One of the things that makes Ultimate unique as a sport is that, since the beginning of the sport, the players call their own fouls. So having a solid understanding of the rules is important for both your personal development and the quality of the games you will play in.

Traveling– You can’t run with the disc, and once you complete a catch, you have three steps (give or take) to stop your movement (without altering your momentum).

Contact– Contact is deemed a foul if it is INCIDENTAL. (Note: Incidental does not mean ACCIDENTAL) Incidental contact occurs if your contact affects your opponent’s play on the disc or their continued play. This would include picks and any contact that occurs when attacking the disc in the air.

The person who committed the foul can “contest” most fouls if they don’t think they committed the infraction, and the two players involved (and ONLY the two players) come to an agreement on the call.

One of the most useful rules is the continuation rule. This rule governs what happens once the foul is called. It is not too difficult to understand, but many players often forget about it, resulting in a turnover.

Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 6.54.55 PM
Continuation Rules 11th Edition

Knowing the rules gives you power, but with great power comes the responsibility not to be a jerk on the field. No one likes that guy who calls fouls or contests excessively. I know I’ve had to apologize for my teammate’s foul calls before…..


Did someone call the SWAT TEAM?!?!

The SWAT Team: Kind of like the A-Team, but for Ultimate Frisbee Defense. These are the guys that will go up and whack the crap out of a floating disc, and then streak down the field to get bookends.

You too can become a part of SWAT team, and it all starts with your positioning….

When your team is defending, they will try to force the other team to throw to only one side (Called the Force Side). Your job as a defender is to take away the force side of the field from your man when he is cutting, and force his throws to that side when he is throwing.

To take away the force side you want to stay on that side of your man, between him and his thrower, wherever he his on the field, so that you can make a play on the disc if it is thrown to him. As a down field defender, the most shameful thing is to be beaten to the force side. To avoid this, you must be aware of your man’s abilities and either play close to him or further off him depending on your matchup.

When your man has the disk, you will become The Mark, and you will try to force him to throw towards the designated force side by stopping him from making an “around” throw to the Break (non-force) side.

marking position (plus a funky hat)
marking position (plus a funky hat)

To mark, you want to get into an athletic position and angle yourself so that you are forcing the thrower to one side, and you want to have your arms extended so you can block any potential throws. (Brodie Smith Vid about Marking)

While marking you are required to count The Stall. Throwers only have Ten seconds to hold the disc when being stalled, and they can only be stalled by a defender within three meters AUDIBLY counting the stall. The mark must start by saying “Stalling one….two….three…ect.” until they reach the “T” in Ten. At that point the thrower has been stalled out, the mark calls out “STALLED” and play stops.

Like a knife through butter

Knowing how to throw and catch are the most basic skills you will need to play ultimate. But anyone can toss a disc around with their friends. What makes Ultimate so ultimate is the athleticism and speed that we play with. To keep up with everyone on the field, you’ll need to know how to cut and how to defend.

On offence cutting is the way that you will get separation from your defender to catch the disc. There are three basic rules for cutting: 1) Cut Sharp, 2)Cut Hard, and 3)DON’T CLOG.

Cut Sharp: This means that all your cuts have to be angled, if you round out your cuts your defender won’t fall off and they will be there to D any discs thrown your way. There are two types of cuts you should know: The Zero Cut and The One Cut.

The Zero Cut: You cut directly towards the lane/ thrower without setting up your cut.

The One Cut: You cut one way (out or in) for a few steps, and then cut back in the opposite direction. When making this cut, the change of direction should happen quickly so your defender is caught off guard.

PS:To keep your cuts sharp you will definitely need a pair of Cleats

Cut Hard: ALL YOUR CUTS ARE REAL CUTS!!! Even/Especially when setting up your one cut, treat each cut like it is your first option. If you make the first move and your defender is caught off guard by your first move, don’t change direction and allow them to catch up. Along with this is the idea of running through the disc, which will prevent this from happening:

note the cutter not running through the disc.....
note the cutter not running through the disc…..


Don’t ever, ever, ever clog the lane. Once you make your cut, if you don’t get the disc, clear back to the stack. If you stay in the lane, you are taking away an open space for the next cutter to cut to, making it harder for your handler to get a clean throw off. So always clear. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Now this is only the most basic ideas of cutting, I’ll try to add in more nuances when we start talking about offensive sets.

Having fun isn’t hard, when you’ve got a…..


Catching in Ultimate isn’t and harder than it is in any other sport. Especially because an experienced handler can shape their throws well enough to place them anywhere on the field.

As the person catching the disc, it will be your job to “read” the disc (judge the path of the disc) and make the catch.

“Read the disc? But what could be so hard about that?”

Let me tell you a story……

Way back when during my second week of college life, I was tossing with a few of the guys on the Law School lawn. One thing to note about the lawn is that there are two large brick towers on the north side of the lawn. Completely avoidable. At one point during our throwing sesh, one of my friends puts up a curvy, floating throw that I begin to read and track down. I was running pretty quickly to catch up with the disk and I was still looking up to follow the disk as it floated down. Until *WHAM* I ran right into one of the brick towers. Adding insult to injury, as I crumpled in defeat and pain, my teammates yelled across the lawn to me “GET A LIBRARY CARD!”

To avoid the mistakes of my past, you should invest in your library card as soon as possible. And to get your library card, you must be able to read the path of a disc while you try to catch it.

Left Leading edge

A disc will always, always, always follow its leading edge! Meaning that whichever side the disk is pointed towards, that is the same side it will curve towards.

A disc like this will curve towards the left, and a disc with a right leading edge will curve to the right.

Your handlers should be able to place their throws out to space (especially if they’ve read Part I and II) which will make it easier to get a read on the disc.

For more reading check out: http://www.ultimaterob.com/2009/10/21/reading-the-disc/

Toss? Part II: The Flick

Now that you have the more basic backhand throw learned, it’s time to move on to the Flick throw. It’s really important that you have both throws in your arsenal, so that in a game you’ll be able to throw to both sides of your body.

Again, when learning the Flick, you’ll want to start with your grip:

  • Make a gun shape with your hand:

    *pew pew*
    *pew pew*
  • You’ll then grip the disk between your thumb and your index finger, resting your middle and index fingers on the inside lip of the disk:
Like So

Then you’ll step out to the same side as your throwing arm, and swing your arm across your body, snapping your wrist when you release the disc.

Unlike the backhand, where most of the power came from rotation of your body, the flick is more reliant on the snap of your wrist.

Check our Brodie’s video for more tips on your flicks!


Now that you’ve been introduced to the game that is Ultimate Frisbee, you need to learn how to play. One of the most basic skills you will need to learn is how to throw the disc. Some of you may be familiar with throwing a Frisbee, but throwing in Ultimate takes tossing with your friends and bumps it up a few notches.

The first thing you’ll need is a disc. Yes, this looks like a Frisbee, but it’s not…. Frisbees are the specific brand of disc that Wham-O makes, and we don’t use them to play Ultimate. We generally use Discraft Ultra Star discs as they are the regulation weight and shape for college ultimate.

Now that you have your equipment you can begin to learn to throw. There are  generally two types of throws that we use in a game: The Backhand and The Forehand/Flick.

The Backhand:

To throw the frisbee the first thing you must know is how to properly hold the disc. To hold the frisbee for a backhand throw, you grip the disc with your thumb of your dominant hand on the top and 4 fingers on the bottom. Some people like to point their index finger on the rim of the disc, but this will decrease the amount of spin you will be able to put on the disc.

INCORRECT (pointed finger)
INCORRECT (pointed finger)
Correct Grip
Correct Grip

Next you have to learn the foot work. Unlike other types of throwing (baseball/ Football), when throwing a disk, you Step With THE SAME SIDE FOOT as your throwing arm.

Also, you should step perpendicular to your target, not straight at them, This will help you throw around the mark.

When actually throwing the disc, you want to make sure you’re keeping the disc as flat as possible, and releasing with as much wrist snap as you can.

For more info and tips about the back hand check out Bodie Smith’s Throwing Tutorials 

Squad is Life

Why do I play Ultimate?

It’s a good question.

I just got back from a two hour practice (9-11pm), I threw the disk about 100 times, I had to do pushups, and I sprinted up and down the the field so many times I lost count. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why? Because of my squad.

Frisbee breeds camaraderie that no other sport can match. When you have to sit in a van with 12 sweaty dudes on you way back from a 3 day tournament trip, you bond like you’ve never bonded before.

PJ and Fleet get real comfy at last year’s first tourney

Frisbee players are weird, and our styles match it. We wear cutoffs and crazy patterns. I am particularly fond of 3/4 length compression shorts (especially these one from COOVY) and Elastic Head Bands to keep the flow contained.

We’ve shared beds, gone to Goodwill, and had midnight trips to Sonic. I would have never stuck with Ultimate if I hadn’t been so welcomed by the team. And this sort of camaraderie isn’t exclusive to college teams. I’ve been welcomed similarly on club teams and at pickup games in both D.C. and NY.

And we know how to have a good time off the playing field too. I’ll just say the disk is a very versatile tool….

I guess it’s true that we’re all a bunch of hippies: We just want to meet people and play some quality ultimate!