League Rules

Ultimate Frisbee (5-on-5)

The 10 Simple Rules of Ultimate

  1. The Field - Typically a score field is divided in half, the long way and 2 games are played beside each other. The field should be approximately 35 paces wide by 55 paces between each goal line and goal endzones 10 paces deep or as close to this as possible given the dimensions of the field.
  2. Ultimate Frisbess Field
  3. Starting Play - At the beginning of each point, team lines up across the front of their endzone. The team with the disc will pull (i.e. throw) the disc to the other team. A pull starts the game.
  4. Movement of the disc - The offensive team can move the disc in any direction by successfully completing a pass to a teammate. Once a player has the disc they cannot run with it. Only one defensive player is allowed to guard the handler (i.e. the player who currently holds the disc). All other defensive players must be at least 10 feet away.
  5. The Stall Count - The player with the disc (i.e. the thrower or handler) has ten seconds to throw it. The defender guarding the thrower (i.e. the marker) will establish this ten count (or stall count).
  6. Change of Possession (Turnover) - When a pass in not completed (e.g. out of bounds, drop, block, interception) or a ten count occurs, the defense immediately takes possession of the disc and becomes the offense. This is called a turnover.
  7. Scoring - When the offense completes a pass into the opposing endzone, this is a point.
  8. Contact - No physical contact is allowed in the game of ultimate. Picks and screens are also prohibited as they often lead to injury.
  9. Fouls - When a player initiates contact on another player a foul occurs. The player who was fouled must immediately yell "foul" and the play promptly stops. If a foul call disrupts possession, the play resumes as if the possession was retained. If the player committing the foul disagrees with the foul call, the play is redone (the call is "contested").
  10. Self-Refereeing - Players are responsible for their own foul and line calls. Players resolve their own disputes. There are no referees.
  11. Spirit of the Game - Ultimate's underlying philosophy is sportsmanship and fair play. Competitive play is encouraged, but never be at the expense of respect between players, adherence to the rules, and the basic joy of play.

"No set of rules can replace player's respect for one another and for good spirit."

Ultimate Players Association, 1993 (c)

The following rules are a condensed version of the 11th Edition Official UPA rules. With the exceptions of the rules stated above, the UPA rules are the basis for all Ultimate games.

The most important part of Ultimate is "The Spirit of the Game". This is used to describe the respect that every player in the game has for the rules and their fellow players. No referees exist. Instead, the players themselves officiate. Implicit in Ultimate is the assumption that no one will cheat to gain an unfair advantage. This principle is what makes Ultimate special to so many people, and all Ultimate players try to keep the Spirit alive by maintaining this high level of trust, no matter how competitive the game becomes.

1. Equipment/Field Set-Up:

  • Team captains are responsible for bringing a disc provided by the league to each game.
  • Each team should bring both light and dark coloured shirts to each and every game.
  • Cleats are allowed but NO metal spikes or bare feet!!!
  • Each player must create an online profile (and agree to the online waiver which is a part of the profile creation process) before playing Note: If you add a player to your team throughout the year, the player must create a profile before they play, even if it is only for one game.
  • It is the responsibility of both team captains to submit the score of the game and spirits score online within 24 hours. If this does not occur, a loss will be recorded. The field is to be set up by the captains. The standard field is 55 paces long x 35 paces wide. The end zones are to be 10 paces deep. Captains may agree to play on slightly smaller or slightly bigger fields depending on the space available.

2. Game Time/Default:

  • Please arrive 15 minutes early to warm up and start your games on time.
  • Before the game the captains should flip the disc (like a coin) to determine who will pull and who will receive.
  • Games are played rain or shine (but no lightning).
  • Always show to the game even if it's raining as the weather can change very quickly. At the start of the game the captains are to make the decision if the games are to be cancelled.
  • Games that are cancelled due to foul weather will be attempted to be re-scheduled, but we cannot guarantee it.

A 5 minute halftime will occur when one team has reached 9 points or the 45 minute mark has been reached.

The game ends when one team scores 19, or the scheduled game time has reached 90 minutes.

  • All teams are to play 5-on-5 having at least 2 of each gender on the field at all times.
  • If a team cannot field a squad 10 minutes after the official start time a default will occur. A team can play with a minimum of 4 people, as long as two (2) of the players are women and two (2) of the players are men.
  • Captains may agree to waive the rules regarding minimum people but this should be decided before the game begins. If the game is played, it counts!
  • Teams may call a one (1) minute time-out per game if needed except in the final 10 minutes of play.
  • Before the game the captains should flip the disc (like a coin) to determine who will pull and who will receive.

3. Initiate Play:

  • Each point begins with both teams lining up on the front of their respective end zone line.
  • The defense throws ("pulls") the disc to the offense.
  • The receiving team has the option of catching the disc or letting it fall, but if they attempt to catch it & drop it, it is an automatic turnover. THE PULL CANNOT BE KNOCKED DOWN AND PLAYED BY THE RECEIVING TEAM LIKE A BLOCKED PASS DURING REGULAR PLAY!
  • Players must play the disc from where it lands, the endzones are live.
  • The receiving team does not have to wait to have the disc "tagged in" off the pull. Whoever retrieves the disc off of a pull or from any throw that lands out of bounds must play it. It cannot be handed over to someone else to commence play. If the defense team intercepts the disc in their opponent's endzone it is a point for the defense team.
  • If the pull goes directly out of bounds, the receiving team may call "middle/brick" and play the disc from the middle of the field at the point where the disc crossed the boundary. If the disc rolls out, "middle/brick" may not be called.
  • If the disc lands in bounds, but then rolls out the back of the endzone, the receiving team starts with the disc at the goal line.
  • If the disc lands in the endzone, the receiving team must start with it from the spot in which the disc stops (e.g. if the disc comes to a stop 5 yards into the endzone, the first throw must come from there)
  • If the disc flies through the back of the endzone in the air, the receiving team starts with the disc 10 paces up from the endzone. This is to ensure a team with a good thrower doesn't just launch the disc out the back of the endzone allowing his/her team to walk up as the receiving team recovers the disc.

4. Movement of the Disc:

  • The disc may be advanced in any direction by completing a pass to a teammate.
  • Players may not run with the disc.
  • The person with the disc ("thrower") has ten seconds to throw the disc. The defender guarding the thrower ("marker") counts out the stall count, but must be within 3 metres of the thrower to call stalls.
  • A player is out-of-bounds when s/he steps on an out-of-bounds area (lines are out-of-bounds). When a player is in the air, his/her in or out-of-bounds is determined by where the first point of contact is with the ground. If any portion of the first point of contact is out-of-bounds, the player is considered out-of-bounds.
  • If a disc goes out of bounds it is a turnover. However, the new offensive team must get the disc "tagged in" by the new defensive team, before play begins. A disc that is thrown out of bounds but curves back into play before hitting the ground is still in play.
  • A pivot foot must be established once the disc is caught; moving the pivot foot is "traveling" and the thrower must go back to their original position and stalls are started at the same point where they were when the call was made.

5. Scoring:

  • Each time the offense completes a pass in the defense's end zone, the offense scores one point. After each score, teams switch sides and play is again initiated. To signal that you are ready, you raise your arm in the air, to let the team know you are ready.
  • You may score from a pass thrown before the halfway line. This varies from league to league, but in Average Joe Sports Club leagues, throws from your own half are permitted.
  • In order for the receiver to be considered in the endzone after gaining possession of the disc, his/her first point of contact with the ground must be completely in the endzone.
  • A player cannot score by running into the endzone with the disc. Should a receiver's momentum carry him/her into the endzone after gaining possession, the receiver must carry the disc back to the closest point on the goal line and put the disc into play from there.
  • A receiver who lands with one foot in the endzone and one foot out of the endzone (in effect, straddling the goal line) has scored a point if the foot inside the scoring area was the first point of contact. A receiver who lands with one foot in the endzone and one foot out of the endzone (in effect, straddling the goal line) has not scored a point, if both feet touch the ground at the same time, and must continue to pass the disc.

6. Change of possession:

  • When a pass is not completed (e.g. out of bounds, dropped, blocked, interception), the defense immediately takes possession of the disc and becomes the offense. (a defender may block/knock-down a pass with any part of their body, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THEIR FEET!, as long as no contact is made with the intended receiver).
  • After a blocked or missed pass (a "turnover"), the person who touches the disc first for the new offense (from the team who now has the disc) must be the first thrower.
  • If two players catch the disc at the same time, the tie goes to the offence.

7. Substitutions:

  • Substitutions can take place after a point has been made or to replace an injured player.
  • The team without the injured player has the right to substitute an equal number of players during an injury substitution.

8. Non-contact:

  • There should be NO CONTACT!
  • Any physical contact between players results in a foul.
  • Picks and screens are also prohibited.
  • A defender may not hit the disc out of the thrower's hands; this is called a "strip." If a strip occurs, the thrower regains possession and the defender must restart the stall count.
  • When defending against the thrower, you must stay 1 disc length away from the thrower. You cannot touch the thrower as they throw; however, the thrower may not move their body, arm, hand, etc. into the defender with an established position.

**The Principle of Verticality** All players have the right to the space immediately above them. Thus, a player cannot prevent an opponent from making an attempt on a pass by placing his/her arms above an opponent. Should contact occur, the player restricting the vertical area has committed a foul. This is not to say that defending players cannot reach over the intended receiver to intercept the disc, but in doing so they must not limit the intended receiver's ability to jump, etc.

DANGEROUS PLAY: It is a foul if you create a Dangerous Play, i.e. charging at a disc in the air, potentially causing a collision, even if there is no contact. All players must be aware of what is going on around them so that injuries or dangerous situations are avoided.

9. Fouls:

  • When a player initiates contact on another player a foul occurs.
  • When a foul disrupts possession, the play resumes as if the possession was retained.
  • If the player committing the foul disagrees with the foul call, the play is redone (in other words the play is "contested").
  • If a foul is called, ONLY the player involved in the infraction may contest it.
  • If the foul is contested, the disc is returned to where it was originally thrown from and stalls continue from where they were at the time of the initial throw.
  • "Picks" are not allowed. Any time a defender's path is blocked by any offensive players --EITHER INTENTIONALLY OR UNINTENTIONALLY-- a foul can be called. Play is stopped, the defender is allowed to regain coverage on the offensive player, and stalls continue from where it was at when the pick was called.
  • If the person handling the disc throws into a hand block by the defender, IT IS NOT A FOUL. Following through and hitting someone is not a foul, but it SHOULD be avoided in concordance with Spirit of the Game.
  • It is the responsibility of the handler to throw around the defender. If a defender hits the disc, hand or arm in an attempt to prevent a throw, IT IS A FOUL. Remember that the defender's hands may only block the path of the disc, not the throwing motion itself.
  • Foot blocks (blocking the disc with your foot) are NOT allowed.

10. Spirit of the Game:

  • Ultimate has traditionally relied upon the spirit of sportsmanship, which places the responsibility for fair play on the player.
  • Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of the bond of mutual respect between players, adherence to the agreed upon rules of the game, or the basic joy of play.
  • Protection of these vital elements serves to eliminate adverse conduct from the Ultimate field. Such actions as the taunting of opposing players, dangerous aggression, intentional fouling, or other "win-at-all-costs" behaviour are contrary to the spirit of the game and must be avoided by all players.

It is our hope that more experienced teams will assist in the promotion and clarification of the spirit of the game and the rules. If a team or person in unclear on something, explain it to them to enhance the Ultimate experience and not to put them at a disadvantage. This will ensure that all games that are played are heading to a higher and more enjoyable level!

**SPIRIT SCORE** At the end of each game each team will vote on a spirit score for the opposing team. The captain is to report this score when reporting the game score. If no score is reported, the opposing team is given an automatic score of 5 points.


  • If a foul is committed & not called, the player who committed the foul should call it on themselves.
  • Should a dispute or confusion arise on the field, it should be common practice to stop play, & resume play with a "disc-in" check when the matter is resolved.
  • When a novice commits a violation out of sincere ignorance of the rules, it is common practice to stop play & explain the violation.

*If you would like to see more rules check out the UPA (Ultimate Player's Association) website.

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