Ultimate Frisbee: The “Ultimate Game Experience”


When people hear someone say Ultimate Frisbee, there are many interpretations of what this means. A fair number of people know what the sport is and have an idea of how it is played. Some people have just heard the name, but do not know anything about it. One time when someone brought up Ultimate Frisbee in conversation, someone thought Frisbees were just for dogs. They had no idea there was an actual sport. This is hurtful to players of the sport, since they are being compared to dogs. The sport has been spreading rapidly, but people are still unsure of what it is all about. Ultimate Frisbee is a non-contact sport in which the goal of the game is to catch the Frisbee in your opponent’s end zone. This is achieved by moving the disc down the field as one teammate passes it to another. Ultimate Frisbee is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and it has been spreading all over the world. Ultimate Frisbee is a serious competitive sport and should be recognized as such.


The sport of Ultimate Frisbee (also known as Ultimate to the players of the game) was created by Joel Silver in the fall of 1968. He made this game up on the spot as a fun game for him and his friends to play. In the following spring he got his friends together to play the first game, which he called the “Ultimate game experience.” The first ever intercollegiate game of Ultimate was held at Rutger’s New Brunswick Campus in 1972 (Griggs). In 1979 and 1980 the Ultimate Player Association (UPA) was founded, and was the first organization for Ultimate in the United States. Currently, Ultimate is played in over 42 countries around the world.


“The game of Ultimate is best described as a fusion of the non-stop movement and athletic endurance of soccer and the transitions and quick turnovers of basketball, with the aerial passing skills of football.” This description of Ultimate does a great job of explaining the sport’s various influences (American Fitness). This melting pot of different sports is what makes Ultimate such a great sport and it has also made Ultimate become so popular. Once people see it in action they notice these similarities and find it easy to relate to. The rules that governed the first game of Ultimate are still the same ones that are used in the sport today, with a few minor changes made over the years.

Ultimate has many rules, but the most important ones are fairly simple to understand. Each point starts with one team throwing the Frisbee off to the other team. A player cannot move while he/she has the disc, but he/she can pivot off of one foot to get into a better position to make a throw (Tannis). If that pivot foot leaves the ground then it is considered travelling. A turnover occurs when the team on offense does not complete a throw. This could happen by a throw being blocked, intercepted, or if the Frisbee is simply not caught. Also, the Frisbee can be thrown in any direction, which gives the thrower options of what he wants to do with the Frisbee. Ultimate Frisbee does not use referees to regulate the game. The games are regulated by the actual players themselves. This type of game regulation is called spirit of the game, and is similar to fair play in other sports. The exception to this is that they occasionally call in people called “observers,” but they are only called upon if the players cannot decide a ruling themselves. Once the observers are called in then their decision is final. Along with these rules, Ultimate also takes a different route than most sports with regard to the positions of players.

One of my favorite aspects of the game is that everyone has to play as a handler (a thrower), a receiver, and a defender. This aspect of the sport is what makes it so much fun to play, because you have to get used to switching roles on the spot. If you’re on defense and you block someone from throwing the disc, then you can quickly switch to offense and pick it up and throw it to a teammate. This constant changing of roles causes everyone to have to be good at multiple roles, which is not seen in most sports. In addition to this aspect of the game, spirit of the game plays a big role. It causes players to adopt a high level of sportsmanship, because if they did not, then games would never be finished. People would be constantly fighting over fouls, instead of coming to decisions. These two characteristics of Ultimate are the primary reasons players love the sport so much.

Ultimate Frisbee is one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and for good reason. It combines the best elements of football, soccer, and basketball to create a truly unique experience. The sport stresses sportsmanship and a certain level of respect for other players. This becomes especially important due to the fact that there are no referees in the game, so good sportsmanship is necessary. Ultimate is played by over 2 million people in North America alone. Ultimate Frisbee is a truly unique sport that should be played by everyone, and deserves to be recognized as such.


Works Cited

Google Images

Griggs, G. “The Origins And Development Of Ultimate Frisbee.” Sport Journal 12.3

(2009): CINAHL Plus with Full Text. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.


Tannis, A. “Ultimate Frisbee: A New Spin On A 60S Sport. “ Alive: Canada’s Natural Health &

Wellness Magazine 310 (2008): 73. CINAHL Plus with Full Text Web. 18 2013.


“The Ultimate Challenge: Combining The Best Of Football, Basketball, Soccer And

Frisbee.” American Fitness 13.3 (1995): 38-40. SPORTDiscus with Full Text. Web. 31 Mar. 2013.