Ultimate Frisbee


  • A group of students at Columbia High School in Maplewood, NJ, first played Ultimate Frisbee in 1968.

  • Commonly referred to as “Ultimate”

  • Distinct from disc golf

  • Played from the recreational to the international level

  • Most commonly played outdoors on grass or turf fields, but variations include indoor and beach Ultimate

  • In 2014, there were approximately 4.5 million participants in the United States.


  • Few studies in the literature regarding Ultimate

  • Noncontact sport with a high injury rate

  • A previous study reported that among 32 club college teams, Ultimate was second only to Rugby in the number of injuries. Ultimate accounted for 31% of the injuries, while Rugby accounted for 33.8% of the injuries.

  • 12.64 injuries per 1100 athlete exposures

  • Overall, women may be at a higher risk of injury than men.

  • Players are 43% more likely to be injured in a game than in practice.

  • The most common injuries are sprains and strains.

  • Lower extremity injuries account for up to 67% of injuries, with knee and ankle injuries being the most common.

  • Men are more likely to be injured during a layout than women.

  • Men are 3 times more likely to suffer a shoulder separation or dislocation.

  • Women are 7 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than men.

  • Concussions are prevalent, but incidence is unknown owing to lack of standardized reporting.

General Principles


  • Backhand: Most common and basic throw; the throwing arm starts in an adducted position and is brought across the body as the shoulder goes into external rotation. Power and distance are achieved through proper biomechanics transferring power through the hips and shoulder ending with forcefully snapping the wrist upon release of the disc; similar to backhand in tennis ( Fig. 71.1A )

    Figure 71.1

    Ultimate Frisbee position terminology.

    (Photographs from Ultiphotos.com courtesy of photographers A. Scobel Wiggins at Ultiphotos.com ; B. Alex Fraser; C. Kevin Leclaire; and D. Paul Andris.)

  • Forehand : Second most common throw; also referred to as a “flick”; the shoulder starts in external rotation, elbow flexed, and wrist supinated; most of the power and distance is achieved with the wrist snapping upon release ( Fig. 71.1B ).

  • Hammer: Overhead throw with the shoulder adducted and elbow flexed; the disc is released at an oblique angle to the ground. Most of the power and distance is achieved with the wrist snapping upon release ( Fig. 71.1C ).

  • Layout: Dive at the end of a run wherein players leave their feet going horizontal to the ground in an attempt to catch or defend the disc; a significant number of injuries occur during a layout due to contact with another player and/or the ground ( Fig. 71.1D )

  • Mark: Person guarding the player with the disc; players have 10 seconds to throw the disc ( Fig. 71.1B ).

  • Pull : Starts every point; defensive team throws the disc to the offensive team. Both teams start on their respective goal lines and cannot pass the goal line until the disc is released; similar to a kickoff in football

Organizations and Levels of Competitions


  • The governing body in the United States is a nonprofit organization called USA Ultimate.

  • In 2014, USA Ultimate became a member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as a Recognized Sport Organization.

College Division

  • College Ultimate is a club sport.

  • Over 14,000 student athletes from over 700 colleges compete.

  • Student athletes have 5 years of eligibility.

  • Men’s and women’s divisions

  • 10 regions with multiple conferences within each region

  • Regular season is from January to March (see section Specific Training for competition format).

  • Post season is from April to May and includes conference championships, regional championships, and a national championship.

  • There is also a championship specifically for Division III colleges.

Club Division

  • Open to any age group

  • Over 700 teams compete.

  • Men’s, women’s, and mixed (co-ed) divisions

  • Each division contains 8 regions with “sections” within each region.

  • Regular season is from June to August.

  • Post season is from August to October and includes sectionals, regionals, and a national championship.

Masters Division

  • Players must meet specific age requirements to compete in the masters division.

  • Age requirement is 33+ for men’s and 30+ for women’s.

  • Grand Masters division is 40+ for men’s and 37+ for women’s.

  • Regional and national championships take place during the summer.

Youth Division

  • Over 9000 student athletes from over 400 club- and school-based teams

  • Includes championships at the high school, under 19, and under 16 levels


  • A professional Ultimate league started in 2013 called Major League Ultimate (MLU).

  • MLU functions independently of the USA Ultimate.

  • Consists of 2 divisions and 8 teams, which compete across the United States


  • The world governing body of Ultimate is the World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF).

  • 65 countries on 5 continents represented in the WFDF

  • The International Olympic Committee fully recognized the WFDF in 2015.

  • Multiple international tournaments that include under 23, club, and world game competitions

  • The 2015 World Championships had over 2500 participants with >100 teams representing over 40 countries.


  • Only official equipment is a 175-g disc and cleats.

  • The 175-g disc is standardized across all competitions except in youth competitions, where a lighter disc is used.


  • Spirit of the game is the concept of putting sportsmanship and fair play at the forefront of Ultimate.

  • Most games are self-officiated, with players settling disputed calls among themselves.

  • The highest levels of competition use observers to make rulings on out of bounds calls and goals. They also help settle calls between players if the players cannot reach an agreement.

  • An Ultimate field is 40 yards wide, 70 yards from goal line to goal line, and 25-yard deep end zones.

  • Teams play 7 versus 7.

  • Game is played to a specific number of points or time limit.

  • Each point starts with the defense throwing (pulling) the disc to the offense.

  • Play is continuous until one team completes a pass (scores) in the defense’s end zone.

  • The disc can be thrown in any direction at any time. Players have 10 seconds to throw the disc, which is counted by the mark. Running with the disc is not allowed.

  • A pass is incomplete when it is dropped, blocked, or intercepted. After an incompletion, possession changes where the defense becomes the offense and tries to score in the opposing team’s end zone.

  • Substitutions only occur after a goal or for injury.

  • No intentional physical contact is allowed. Picks and screens are prohibited. Incidental contact is allowed.

Specific Training, Physiology Issues, and Unique Environmental Issues

  • Most Ultimate competitions are in a tournament format played over 2 days. A total of 6–9 games are played with each game lasting 1–2 hours.

  • One study of a men’s tournament showed average distance run in a single game is approximately 2.9 miles; approximately 0.4 miles of that is high-intensity running and 0.1 miles is sprinting.

  • Extrapolating over the course of a typical tournament, a player could run 17.5–26.3 miles with 2.4–3.6 miles classified as high intensity and 0.8–1.2 involving sprinting.

  • Games are played outdoors and only cancelled for lightning. Players must be prepared to play in adverse conditions including, rain, snow, wind, and freezing temperatures.

  • Ultimate requires a significant baseline aerobic capacity (similar to soccer) with the capability of making intermittent sprints, jumps, and dives.

  • Aerobic training with running, biking, and swimming is common.

  • Anaerobic training with high-intensity intervals, plyometrics, and running stairs and hills is common.

  • Nutrition is geared for prolonged aerobic activity and quick recovery because tournaments can consist of multiple games played over several days.

Only gold members can continue reading. Log In or Register to continue

Jul 19, 2019 | Posted by in SPORT MEDICINE | Comments Off on Ultimate Frisbee
Premium Wordpress Themes by UFO Themes