Introduction: How to Dominate Ultimate Frisbee

This instructable is for beginning ultimate frisbee players. It teaches the basics of ultimate Frisbee: how to throw, how to catch, best practices and rules of the game. It will give you the knowledge you need to join that community league with confidence, play higher level pick-up, or get ready to join a more formal ultimate Frisbee team. I have played ultimate for 7 years, both less formally and participating in collegiate and club teams and trust me, once you start playing ultimate, you will be addicted.

Step 1: What You Will Need...

To play ultimate you need:

1. A 175 gram ultimate disc. The best brand is Discraft.

2. A large, open field.

3. Cleats. Football or soccer cleats work great. You are welcome to play barefoot or in running shoes, but if you are serious, cleats will really up your game play.

Step 2: How to Throw Backhand

Backhand is your bread and butter throw. Most people who go out to toss a disc around already know this throw.

I'll talk about things using your right hand, but it all works the same for lefties!

1. Hold the disc in your right hand, with your fingers curled under the rim and your thumb on top.

2. Keep the disc at shoulder height.

3. Wind up the disc by bringing your arm across your body to your left side.

4. At the same time, step with your right foot across your body, while keeping your body angled forward.

5. Throw the disc, keeping it flat and at shoulder height.

6. When you release the disc, your arm should be pointing towards where you want the disc to go.

A note on releasing - you use the wind up and your arm to power the throw, but your wrist is also very important in keeping the disc flat and giving it some spin as you release.

Step 3: How to Throw Forehand

Forehand is the first throw that will set you apart from all those kids playing pick-up. Once you get the hang of it, you'll want to use it all the time!

1. Hold the disc in your right hand with your pointer and middle fingers braced on the inside rim. Your thumb is on top of the disc. You should be squeezing, so there is no space between your hand and the disc. Your ring finger and pinkie are braced against the side of the disc.

2. This throw is released a little lower then shoulder height. Do not bring your arm back too far behind your body, just a little to wind up.

3. Bring your arm forward and step out and to the right with your right foot.

4. Flick your wrist as you release the disc. Keep the disc flat as you release it; it does not need to be flat as you wind up.

This throw is often called a "flick" because of the flicking motion of the wrist. Your wrist is super important for this throw! Again, it is how you control the speed and rotation of your disc. This throw can be discouraging to try at first. Just do it a hundred times, it will come.

Step 4: How to Throw "outside-in"

As with all sports, this sport comes with plenty of new vocabulary. You will hear people talking about "IOs" and "OIs", scoobers, hucks, burnies, scorches. OI stands for outside in. It is a throw where the disc leaves you and goes out into space before curving back in, towards the person you are throwing to. This is a great throw for getting it around defenders. These can be done backhand or forehand.

For backhand:

1. Hold the disc with your fingers curled around the inside and your thumb on top.

2. Wind up by bringing your arm across your body and stepping across with your right foot, keeping disc at shoulder height.

3. Release the disc with a slight tilt, the face of the disc tilting towards you.

4. Throw it out into space. The tilt of the disc will carry it back in towards your receiver.

A more dramatic tilt will mean more dramatic curve in the throw once it has left your hand.

For forehand:

1. Hold the disc with your pointer and middle finger on the inside, thumb on top, and ring finger and pinkie braced on outside.

2. Bring the disc slightly back behind the plane of your body, stepping to the side as you do so.

3. Release the disc, again with a slight tilt, the disc face tilting towards you.

4. Throw it out into space and watch it come back in to your receiver.

Step 5: How to Throw "inside-out"

IOs refer to inside-outs. This is where the disc crosses the plain of your body, going "in" and then goes out into space for your receiver to run onto and catch. This throw can take some time to master, but it is invaluable when getting around defenders or throwing the disc to tighter spots.

For backhand:

1. Hold the disc in the backhand grip.

2. Wind up across your body, stepping across with your right foot.

3. Tilt the disc away from you, so you can see less of the face.

4. Bring the disc farther across your body then in a normal or OI backhand, keeping the tilt.

5. Release the disc, using your wrist to give it some spin. You should release when you are pointing the disc out to the right of your receiver, versus pointing straight at them like in a normal backhand.

The disc should go out to the right, and then start curving left towards your receiver.

For forehand:

1. Hold the disc in the forehand grip.

2. Step out, using that momentum to help power your release.

3. Bring your arm across your body, to the left.

4. Release the disc, keeping it tilted so the face is facing away from you.

5. Flick your wrist to give the disc spin and force.

The disc should go out to the left, and then start curing right towards your receiver.

Step 6: Best Practices for Catching the Disc

The safest catch in the business is the "pan-cake." Catch the disc with both hands, one on top and one on the bottom of the disc. It helps to get your body behind the disc, so you are catching it into your chest. This is the safest catch, the one you are least likely to drop. But different situations call for different catches!

You can also catch one handed, hooking your fingers around the rim of the disc. Especially useful if you are chasing a disc and don't have time to get your body behind it, or have to stretch out with one hand.

The "lobster" or "claw" is another method, where you use both hands to snag the disc. Your thumbs are on the bottom, with your fingers on top of the disc.

You will often see people dive, also known as bidding or laying out, in ultimate frisbee. This involves thrusting your whole body into the air to catch a disc before it touches the ground or goes out of bounds. While it looks awesome, it can lead to some more serious injuries, beyond scrapes and grass-burns, if done the wrong way. Avoid jamming fingers into the ground, by catching the disc and keeping your wrist up. Avoid landing on your side, with an arm outstretched, as this is an easy way to dislocate your shoulder. Practice proper form from a kneeling position or in the snow or at the pool. And then have a blast!

Lay-out clip courtesy of NGN. Club teams Rhino vs Doublewide.

Step 7: Setting Up the Ultimate Frisbee Field

Pick-up is often played wherever there is enough space, usually using shoes or sweatshirts to mark the front of the end zone. Regulation fields are a bit more strict.

As seen in the diagram, the entire field is 40 yards by 120 yards. End zones should be marked with four cones - two in the front corners and two in the back corners. An end zone is 40 yards wide and 25 yards deep.

The rest of the field is the space between the front cones of both end zones, measuring 40 yards wide and 70 yards long.

One stride is about a yard - use your stride length for marking out fields for practice or casual play. For more serious games a tape measurer should be used to place the field.

Step 8: Basic Rules of the Game

1. Ultimate is played 7 vs 7.

2. Games go to 13 or 15 points. For games to 13 a half time is taken at 7 points. For games to 15, half time is at 8 points.

3. If game play is going longer than a specified time (usually 75 minutes, but varies with league) and a team has not reached 13/15 points, a soft cap is given. The highest score is taken and two points are added - that is the new score to end the game. If soft cap is not reached within specified time (usually 10 minutes), hard cap is placed, meaning the game ends at the next point.

4. Points are scored by advancing your disc from one end of the field to the end zone at the opposite side. The disc must be caught within the 25 m by 40 m end zone.

5. The disc is advanced by being thrown from player to player. If the disc is dropped or if a defender intercepts the disc, it is a turnover and the other team may pick up the disc and try to start moving it to their end zone. Travels occur when the person catching the disc takes more steps then needed to stop their movement, or changes direction and speed while slowing down. Travels also occur when the player with the disc moves both feet - a pivot foot must be maintained.

6. The person holding the disc has 10 stall counts to throw it to another player. If the stall count reaches 10, it is a turnover. Stall count is managed by whoever is guarding the person with the disc. They must be within 10 feet of the person with the disc and count out loud.

7. If the person guarding the disc contacts the thrower - hits their hand or arm, or runs into their body - it is a foul. If two people are going for a disc and one person contacts the other in a way that causes them to drop the disc, it is a foul.

8. Ultimate frisbee has no referees. Players are in charge of calling fouls, travels, and stalls. Calls can be contested or non-contested by the opposing team, which will change where the disc goes. This means that good sportsmanship is extremely important, as players must work together to decide what should be done about calls.

For more detailed rules, visit USA Ultimate's site for the 11th Edition of the "Official Rules of Ultimate."