How to Play


What is Ultimate?  |  Getting Started  |  Where to Play?  |  Spirit of the Game


Getting Started

Ultimate is an exciting and rapidly growing sport. Most people can now find opportunities to play within their own communities.  Join the many others each day that start playing Ultimate.  There are several options available for you to get started.

Pick-Up Ultimate
Pick-up Ultimate is generally a casual, scheduled gathering of players who get together for the purpose of playing Ultimate.  Games are often scheduled weekly and seasonally.  Pick-up Ultimate is considered the least competitive form of organized Ultimate.  These groups welcome new players and beginners. By its very nature, there is no obligation to play, commit or show up.  Pick-up is for people to come by and "pick-up" in a game that is going on.  You can start and stop when you want.

Learn to Play at Clinics & Camps
Introductory clinics and camps are becoming more popular, particularly for young athletes interested in learning Ultimate. Introductory clinics are a great place to learn the fundamentals of Ultimate quickly with people of the same skill level. One example would be USA Ultimate sponsored Learn to Play clinics.

Local Leagues
Many people start playing through a local league.  Leagues provide a great environment for new and experienced players alike.  They are considered to be beginner friendly and a great place for new players to get introduced to the sport of Ultimate.  This unique setting means that many new players learn from more experienced players.  And because of the way that teams are created, on the field you can match up against players of a similar skill level. 

Leagues, while providing opportunities to play in games, are generally considered to have a low intensity level of competitiveness when compared to other settings (except pick-up situations).  Most leagues offer individual registration and they draft the teams according to playing ability.  They generally offer scheduled, seasonal (spring, summer, fall, etc.), weekly games for a duration of 5-10 weeks.

Join an Existing Team

Opportunities also exist for players to join existing teams.  Most teams exist to compete in local and/or national tournaments.  Because of this, there is sometimes a higher level of skill and commitment needed to join an existing team.  But those levels vary considerably from team to team and most teams welcome new or inexperienced players that are eager to learn or get involved.

You can find a team listing on the event builder .

Contact Local Coordinators
View our Contacts Page and from the top of that page select your appropriate division as a player.  Once there you will find Regional Coordinators listed and the Sectional Coordinators within each region.  Start by contacting your Sectional Coordinator.  As a local player, this person can help put you in touch with other teams and organizations within your community.  They will be able to help match you up with the playing opportunity you are looking for.

Contact USA Ultimate
Contact USA Ultimate at anytime with questions about getting started, membership with USA Ultimate or playing opportunities in your community.  We are here to help you.

Online Resources

The Rules

The purpose of the rules of Ultimate is to provide a standard guideline describing the way the game is played.  In Ultimate it is assumed that no player will intentionally violate the rules; thus there are no harsh penalties for inadvertent infractions, but rather a method for resuming play in a manner that simulates what would most likely have occurred had there been no infraction. This facilitates all players to uphold the rules.


  1. The Field: A rectangular shape with end zones at each end. A regulation field is 70 yards by 40 yards, with end zones 20 yards deep.
  2. Starting Play: Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of opposite end zone lines. The defense throws ("pulls") the disc to the offense. A regulation game has seven players per team.
  3. Scoring: Each time the offense catches a pass in the defense's end zone, the offense scores a point. The teams switch direction after every goal, and the next point begins with a new pull by the team that just scored.
  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 is not completed (e.g. out of bounds, drop, block, interception, stalled), the defense immediately takes possession of the disc and becomes the offense.
  6. Substitutions: Players must not in the game may replace players in the game after a score and during an injury timeout.
  7. Non-contact: Players must attempt to avoid physical contact during play. Picks and screens are also prohibited.
  8. Fouls: When a player initiates contact on another player a foul occurs. When a foul causes a player to lose possession, the play resumes as if the possession was retained. If the player that the foul was called against disagrees with the foul call, then play is redone. 
  9. Self-Officiating: Players are responsible for their own foul and line calls. Players resolve their own disputes.
  10. Spirit of the Game: The foundation of the rules in ultimate is Spirit of the Game, which places responsibility for fair play on the player. Competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play. 

    Thanks to Steve Courlang and Neal Dambra, 1991, for the development of  "Ultimate in Ten Simple Rules".

Check out the official USA Ultimate 11th Edition Rules for complete rules.  USA Ultimate Championship Series competition is subject to additional division-specific competition rules (Youth, College, Club, Masters).