Ultimate is a fast free-flowing game played world-wide which combines elements of netball, soccer, american football and touch rugby. The basic aim is for the team with the frisbee – called a “disc” in Ultimate – to pass the disc up the field to others on their team and catch it in the endzone. At the same time the defensive team is trying to intercept it or knock it down. If they succeed, they get possession of the disc and are trying to score in the other endzone.
Unique to Ultimate, and central to individual and team conduct, is the underlying ‘Spirit of the Game’, which embodies the sportsmanship which is occasionally not apparent in other sports. Players on the field make their own calls when fouls etc. are incurred. When disputes arise, the disc returns to the player who made the last pass and the game resumes. The absence of umpires leads to the need for a good, honest spirit even when playing in highly competitive situations. The ‘Spirit of the Game’ award is highly coveted and just as important as winning. Players undertake to be competitive but fair and truthful, physical but careful, intense but friendly and courteous.
Ultimate is non-contact. Intercepting or knocking down the disc must be done without interfering with other players. In practice, a small amount of contact is unavoidable, but deliberate interference or aggressive play is not permitted.
There is no running with the disc. When a player catches the disc, they must stop as soon as they can. They then have 10 seconds to pass the disc to someone else on their team. The 10 seconds is counted out loud by a defender who marks them and tries to prevent them from getting an easy pass away. If they have not thrown the disc by the time the count gets to 10, a turnover results.
A turnover also results when the disc is thrown out of bounds, when it touches the ground, or when it is dropped. If it is knocked down, the team that threw the disc loses possession (unlike touch rugby, where the last team to touch the ball loses possession).
The regular playing field is 35 metres wide by 64 metres long with 18 metre deep end zones (100m total), which can be varied to suit the number and fitness of players. Games can be played to points or to a time limit, although most games have a limit on both. There are seven players on the field for each team, and up to 28 in a world championship squad.
Anyone can start to play with a little enthusiasm, some space, and a disc, but to become a good player requires a great deal of practice in the various methods of throwing the disc, skills which are always made more complex in the presence of wind and rain. Elite Ultimate involves a combination of speed, stamina and agility with the need for excellent hand-eye coordination and a level head. The ‘field sense’ skills required in Ultimate can be extended to most team sports and the absence of umpires promotes a competitive but fair and honest attitude.
Look around this site or email au at aucklandultimate.org.nz to find out more.