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 captains alternate for the last 3. Those parameters are:

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

Gender Ratio

The gender ratio for all mixed (co-ed) games will be set in the league description. Captains may not change this ratio for individual games. 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

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.

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