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The GFORCE Guide to... Ultimate Frisbee

Added 03 May 2018 by GFORCE

In our latest GFORCE Guide to… we learn all about the sport of Ultimate Frisbee.


Picture the scene. It’s a warm summer’s day and you’re on the beach. After a dip in the sea and a bit of sunbathing you fancy doing something more active. A game of Frisbee you think as you gently throw the disc to your companion and jog to pick it up again. After 10 minutes enough is enough and you pack up for another dose of sunbathing.

Those are exactly our thoughts when we think of anything to do with a Frisbee but no, something has been happening in the work of gentle disc throwing and it’s (quite scarily!) called Ultimate Frisbee!

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ultimate Frisbee combines “speed, grace and powerful hurling with a gruesome pace”. We want to find out more!

In 1968, Joel Silver introduced his idea of Ultimate Frisbee to the Columbia High School student council in Maplewood New Jersey, USA. The next year, the first game was played between two groups of students and things have, literally, taken off from there!

The game, explained as simply as possible, is played between two teams of seven players on a large rectangular pitch. A line drawn across the pitch at either end creates two “endzones”. These are the goal-scoring areas. A goal is scored when a team completes a pass to a player standing (or more likely running) in the endzone they are attacking.

Players cannot run with the disc. When you get the disc you must come to a stop and try to throw it to another player, like in netball. By passing from player to player, the offence attempts to work the disc up the pitch towards the endzone they are attacking. If the disc hits the ground or is intercepted or knocked down by the other team, then the opposition takes possession. Possession also changes if a receiver is outside the playing area when he or she catches it.

The defending team attempts to stop the team with the disc from making progress upfield by marking them, as in football or basketball. The theory is that the offence won’t want to pass to a player who is being marked closely, as it’s likely to result in an interception. So it boils down to the offence players trying to get free of their markers to receive a pass, while the defence makes every effort to stay with them in the hope of forcing a turnover.

The object of Ultimate Frisbee is to gain points by scoring goals - 1 point per goal. The disc may only be passed, and a goal is scored when a player successfully passes the disc to a teammate in the end zone which that team is attacking. The team with the most points at the end of the game is declared the winner.

Interestingly, Ultimate is unique in that it is refereed by the players themselves, even at World Championship level, according to a code of conduct known as ‘the Spirit of the Game’. This places the responsibility for fair play on the players themselves. In that respect, playing Ultimate is a completely different experience to playing other sports.

Ultimate is a fast-moving team sport gaining in popularity and now enjoyed by millions of players the world over and there is even a GB team competing internationally. To compete at the highest level, Ultimate players require speed, agility and endurance. Yet beginners find the game easy to learn and fun to play.

Perhaps we should take the advice of UK Ultimate, the governing body, and ‘grab a disc, get out there, and discover why many think this is the ultimate team sport’. It certainly sounds fun!


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