Ultimate Frisbee: A how-to guide

FRISBEE, that plastic disk thrown on a beach in all those American films, is now a competitive sport, featuring in this year’s ASEAN Games.

Ultimate Frisbee draws its rules and inspiration from more conventional sports. With elements of netball, grid-iron and soccer, UF teams have seven players, all of whom attempt to score goals by getting the Frisbee to the end zone. Imagine rugby, but as a non-contact sport and played with a flying disk.

Players cannot run with the disk in their possession (like netball), and the ‘thrower’ (the player with the Frisbee) has ten seconds to complete the pass. As soon as the Frisbee has been intercepted by the other team, goes out of bounds of the field or there has been a foul, the team that was defending the disk is now in possession and the roles reverse.

Ultimate Frisbee prides itself on sportsmanship, as the players themselves normally referee the game. Unusual in a competitive sport, but Ultimate Frisbee is unusual all round. Players on the field have to make their own calls if rules have been violated, if there is foul play, or if there is a disagreement about an incident on field. There is even a ‘spirit of the game award’; similar to a ‘most valuable player award’, for the person that shows the most respect and sportsmanship.

It gets more interesting than just the mix of influences and the self-sufficient refereeing. UF, although normally played outdoor on a grass field slightly smaller than a soccer field, has indoor and beach counterparts with allow the flying-disk spectacle to continue in all climates, including Ice Ultimate.

If you are thinking that this is a sport the same way that synchronised swimming is a sport, think again. Ultimate Frisbee is played in 30 countries, played by 4.8 Million people in the US and is now an international competitive sport through the World Games.

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