Ultimate in Ten Simple Rules

These simple rules are enough to get you started in Ultimate.

Steve Courlang, UPA Juniors Director (Copyright © Ultimate Players Association, 1993)

  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.

Comprehensive Rules

If you want to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding, check out the official USAU Rules of Ultimate 2020-2021.  This is a great resource, with many explanations of finer details, intended interpretations, reasons, etc.

The Official Rules of Ultimate

Halifax Ultimate Rules

Halifax Ultimate has some additional rules to make games run smoothly. Below are HU rules that apply to all of our leagues. There are also rules that apply specifically to outdoor leagues and to indoor leagues.

Dangerous Play Rule

Halifax Ultimate uses the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) version of the Dangerous Play foul rule. The main difference between this and the USAU rule is that there does NOT need to be contact for a player to make a dangerous play foul call.

More information in the WFDF Rulebook (Rule 17.1).  For further clarification, please use this slideshow as a resource.


Prior to the start of a game, captains should flip a disc to decide a few game parameters. One captain flips the disc, while the other chooses “up” or “down”, describing how the disc comes to rest on the ground. A disc is “up” if the disc face faces up, and “down” if the disc face is down. The winning captain gets to pick their choice of first parameter, and then the other captain chooses the other parameter. Those parameters are:

  • Who starts on Offence/Defence
  • Which end to start at

    Gender Ratio

    The gender ratio for all mixed (co-ed) games will be set in the league description. When registration numbers allow, mixed leagues will use alternating gender ratios – this is called Gender Ratio Rule A. 

    Gender Ratio Rule A: At the start of the game, after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting the gender ratio for the first point. For the second and third points the ratio must be the reverse of the first point. For the fourth and fifth points the ratio must be the same as the first point. This pattern of alternating the ratio every two points repeats until the end of the game (half time has no impact on the pattern).

    If a team cannot meet the set ratio for a game, they can optionally choose to play fewer players on the field (e.g. down a player) for the game instead of defaulting. The other team does not need to reduce the number of players on to match.


    Team captains are to mutually agree on an official timepiece before the start of a game. The timepiece will be used to determine the Time Cap of the game.

    Game Start/End

    Games are to start and end as scheduled. If the start of a game is delayed for any reason, the game’s end time is to remain as scheduled.

    Captains should mutually decide what time halftime is before the start of the game.

    Halftime and game end occur the moment the clock changes to that time (i.e not at the end of that minute).

    Games are not required to be won by 2 points. Ties are allowed in the regular season and pool play.

    There will be no “chances to tie”, “breaking the tie”, or “playing the point out” after the end time during a regular season (or pool play) game. If there is a tie when time cap is reached during a crossover or playoff game, the next point scored wins.


    All players who participate in Halifax Ultimate leagues, including as subs, must have a valid, current Halifax Ultimate membership.

    For draft entry leagues, captains should make every effort to find suitable, fair subs for any of their missing players. A draft league captain should ALWAYS make every reasonable effort to discuss all substitute players with the opposing captain ahead of the game – even if they feel the sub is “fair”. If they cannot reach the opposing captain in advance, such discussions should occur at the facility before the game starts. If the opposing captain does not feel the subs are fair and will change the outcome of the game, they can request that points be awarded to their team as compensation for the subs. Captains should discuss the amount of points awarded until a reasonable resolution is determined.

    For team entry leagues, captains must add potential subs (and the subs must accept the request) to their roster ahead of playing on the Halifax Ultimate website. The last day to add people to the roster will be indicated in the league information header (typically it is the last week before playoffs). An opposing captain reserves the right to ask an unrostered sub not to play. In special circumstances, where a team cannot safely field a team without subs, and it is after the last day to add people to a roster, they may discuss subs with the opposing captain and the points system should be enacted, or the team who does not have enough players must forfeit.

    If captains cannot come to an agreement about a reasonable amount of points to be exchanged for a sub, they may reach out to the League Coordinators (LCs) for assistance. LCs will do their best to mediate the discussion and help captains arrive at an appropriate resolution. If you require assistance from the LCs, try to provide them with as much notice as possible. You can contact them at


    The last team(s) to play at a facilitate on any given day/night should ensure that all gear (scoreboards, cones) have been collected and returned to the facility. Canada Games Centre and BMO Soccer Centre kindly allow us to store these items there for ease of access and so we should not leave them out on the courts/fields for them to cleanup.

    As we play all year round, there are some variations between indoor and outdoor.