*If you click a link on this page and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more

How To Play Ultimate Frisbee For Beginners

There aren’t many games where people of different genders can play together, and that is the one thing that sets ultimate frisbee apart from other sports.

This fast-paced unisex sport is easy to pick up, but you will find that it takes a bit of time to master.

So, what’s it like to play ultimate frisbee?

How do you start playing ultimate frisbee especially if you are a complete beginner?

That’s the goal of this guide that was made especially for beginners who want to learn basics of ultimate frisbee.

We are going to cover everything that you need to know and have to start playing ultimate frisbee.

Things You Need to Start Playing Frisbee

Frisbee Disc

It is crucial to play with a good quality disc, and this is regardless of whether you are a newbie or an experienced player.

What do I mean by a good quality disc?

You need a disc that will have a consistent flight, be comfortable, and firm to grip, and the disc shouldn’t be too heavy or too light either.

At the same time, a good quality disc is that which is resistant to breakage and cracking. As you play, the disc might fall to the ground several times.

So, you need something that can withstand those falls, not to mention that in addition to falling, the disc might get accidentally stepped on or hit a hard object.

At the same time, the disc should allow for easy visibility, even when playing at night. For this reason, some discs may come with LED illumination to allow for enhanced visibility even when playing at night in poorly lit conditions.

The official recommended disc weighs 175 grams and measures 10.75 inches in diameter.


Having the best frisbee disc will mean nothing if you don’t play with the right Ultimate Frisbee cleats.

Imagine receiving a perfect throw but being unable to jump and catch it because you are wearing the wrong cleats. That would be quite the let-down, don’t you agree?

There’s a lot of dodging, running, jumping, and posturing that’s involved when playing Ultimate Frisbee.

As a result, you really cannot overlook the importance of investing in a good quality pair of cleats. This way, you’ll be safe from slipping and sliding during a game.

The shoes should have studs for support and balance, and they should also be lightweight yet strong enough to withstand the intensity of the game.

Friction Gloves

Have you ever tried catching or throwing a frisbee when your hands are cold and numb or hot and wet?

Ultimate Frisbee gloves are not a necessity when playing the sport, but you will find that they are an invaluable asset to have.

Suitable gloves should be flexible and be well insulated and ventilated for comfortable use in both cold and hot weather.

At the same time, the gloves should be flexible such that they do not limit your range of hand motions or interfere with finger movements.

Playing Field

Well, of course, you need somewhere with sufficient space to play Ultimate Frisbee.

Traditionally, the sport was played in football and soccer fields, but it can be played on any field as long as there’s sufficient room for the players to spread out.

Whichever space you have, even a backyard could do. Just make sure you’ve set up two endzones on either end of the rectangular-shaped field to give each team a territory.

Ultimate Frisbee Rules: How to play the game

  • To start a match, both teams line up in front of their endzone lines. The defense then “pulls” (throws) the disc to the offense.
  • You cannot run with the disc, which means that you must stop the minute you receive it. However, players are allowed to pivot on one leg while holding the disc.
  • If a pass drops to the ground, is blocked, gets intercepted or is caught out of bounds, then the team must relinquish possession of the ball to the other side (turnover).
  • While in possession of the ball, you have 10 seconds to make a pass, or else the player will have to surrender the ball to the opposition.
  • The defender guarding the thrower is known as the marker. It is up to the marker to do the counting to time how long the thrower has had the disc (stall count).
  • Being a non-contact sport, defenders shouldn’t stand closer than 3m of the disc holder.
  • To score a point, the team in possession of the ball will have to complete a pass while in the opponents’ endzone.
  • Once a point has been scored, play is restarted at the team’s respective end zones.
  • Substitutions cannot be made during a timeout. You can only substitute players during an injury or after a goal has been scored (but before the throw-off).
  • There are no referees in ultimate frisbee. This is a self-officiating sport meaning is a foul occurs, it is up to the fouled player to yell “foul” thereby grabbing the attention of other players on the field.

What Skills Do You Need for Ultimate Frisbee?

1. Throwing

First off, a good player needs to be capable of making consistent throws to make successful passes every single time.

It is vital, also, to know how to make a successful throw to a moving target; and not just making stationary throws.

Power throwing is another vital skill required when playing ultimate. This involves the ability to grip the disc and throwing it as far as you possibly can.

In ultimate frisbee, power throwing enables you to put the disc anywhere on the field, with a standstill pivot.

2. Speed

If you’re playing defense, speed will come in handy in making blocks, and when playing offense, speed will help when it comes to downfield receptions.

Acceleration allows the player to open a throwing window for the offense, and it can also help a player limit a throwing window for the defense.

How well can you sprint?

Sprinting allows you to change your running tempo, which in turn makes your moves unpredictable such that you wouldn’t be easy to guard.

3. Reading the Field

Besides merely identifying where the disc is and chasing after it, an ultimate frisbee player needs to possess other insights when reading the field.

Is there another cutter who is better suited to cut? Is there room for a continuation cut?

Where is your matchup? Are they out of position?

Is there a member of the opposing team who’s streaking deep wide open?

Learning how to read the field will not only alert the player about what’s happening on the field but also give cues as to what might happen next.

At the same time, the ability to read the field enhances spatial awareness, which is a grand skill to have on and off the Ultimate Frisbee playing field.

4. Catching

It is just as important to catch as it is to throw.

After all, remember that in Ultimate, making catches is what helps your team score points.

Don’t just aim to catch the balls that come directly at you. Expand your catching window and catch discs overhead and around your ankles as well.

It is also necessary to master the art of catching using one hand for moments when the disc might be too far out of your reach.

5. Defense

The offense often has it easy in Ultimate Frisbee. Defense, however, is an art.

How well can you control your matchup?

Using angles and body positioning, you can anticipate the player’s next move, thereby disrupting the flow of an offensive player.

As a defensive player, you need to consistently find yourself in the right position, balanced and ready to go.

6. Endurance

It is hard to catch a disc when all your focus is on your breathing, and you can hardly read the field.

Additionally, it is hard to make a throw when you’re out of breath, exhausted, and heart beating wildly.

You simply cannot understate how important it is to have endurance when playing Ultimate Frisbee because this truly is a cardio taxing sport.

Endurance goes hand in hand with mental toughness, which both allow you to play at your peak talent and consistently so.

What Are the Positions in Ultimate Frisbee?

On Offense

Handlers are the players who move the disc short range. These players ensure that the stall count is low, and their job is to look for downfield throws. Handlers are often split into two: dumps and swings.

Dumps run directly behind the disc holder, and so dumping the disc loses yards. On the other hand, swings offer a longer throw to gain forward yardage.

Cutters are the players who try getting open for yardage-gaining catches, while the handler stands back.

Note, however, that these positions are not necessarily rigid. A handler could make a deep cut if the situation so necessitates, while a cutter could cut in for a reset.

Strikers are essentially cutters geared more towards running long for long throws (hucks).

Poppers are essentially cutters geared more towards popping (running into the cup) for a short pass. These players are the alternative option to dumps.

On Defense

A deep-deep is the player who defends against long throws to strikers.

A short deep is a player who prevents undercuts.

“In the cup” is a formation of three defensive players who mark the disc holder in a semi-circular shape. Cup players harass the handlers, thereby marking a zone on the field as opposed to marking specific players.

FAQ about how to play ultimate frisbee

How Do You Win Ultimate Frisbee?

Basically, the game is played by making throws and passes towards fellow teammates, which they then have to catch.

If a player catches the frisbee disc in the other team’s end zone, then that counts as a point scored.

An opponent may only snatch the disc from the possessing team if it’s in the air. You are not allowed to grab it out of a player’s hand, seeing as this is a non-contact sport.

An ultimate frisbee match ends when one team becomes the first to get to 15 points.

Is Ultimate Frisbee Hard to Play?

Ultimate Frisbee is a sport that’s very easy to pick up, but mastering the game takes some skill and practice.

The game requires a high degree of spatial awareness as well as balance and proprioception. Such that the player can sprint and run without skidding, falling, or swaying in any way that might result in them missing a catch.

A good deal of hand-eye coordination is also required, not to mention multi-sensory processing as well.

So, while the game might not be hard to play per se, it does require that the player be physically fit and mentally tough and alert on the field.

How Many Steps Can You Take in Ultimate Frisbee?

As soon as a player receives the frisbee, they have to stop and cannot run with it. As such, while catching the disc, the receiver is only allowed to take the minimum required number of steps necessary to stop moving.

Any additional steps are considered as foul, but a player is allowed to pivot on one leg without it counting as a foul.

What Are The 3 Types of Throws in Ultimate Frisbee?

A Backhand Throw is the most natural way to throw a frisbee, which is why this is the most commonly used type of throw.

A Forehand Throw, also known as a flick, takes some practice and commitment to master. This throw is the most efficient because it can be executed in milliseconds and uses up the least amount of energy.

A Hammer Throw has the advantage of being able to loft over the defense, thereby lading squarely onto the intended teammate. The disc can easily be thrown over the marker if they are marking you hard, and you are nearing the end of your stall count.


Ultimate frisbee is a fun and vibrant game, and you just might get addicted to it once you get the gist of how it’s played.

The good thing is that the rules can be learned relatively quickly. To get started, all that’s required is a frisbee disc, the right kind of shoes, an open field, and a group of friends!

Arthur Delucia
Experienced sports writer and a semi-professional ultimate frisbee player. When I am not training, you will find me writing new articles for SportyGen.

Leave a Comment