The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Ultimate Frisbee

For a sport that is completely safe, uses all of your active skill sets and won’t burn a hole into your pocket, the ultimate frisbee game is for you. 

While you may be taken back to images of The Inbetweeners tribe throwing a frisbee at a woman in a wheelchair’s head, you don’t have to worry about your experience being quite so traumatic for those around you. 

In fact, frisbee is one of the safest games you can play. And, it’s such a versatile sport, too. 

So, The Hobby Kraze just had to feature the beginner’s guide to ultimate frisbee in the collection. The team are here to provide you with everything there is to know about the game. From the origin stories, to the health benefits and all the way to the intricacies of how to throw a frisbee in the game. 

Have a look at the beginner’s guide to ultimate frisbee FAQ:

  1. What is the Ultimate Frisbee Game?
  2. When Did the Rules of How to Play Flying Disc Develop?
  3. Why Should You Learn How to throw a Frisbee?
  4. Which Tools and Equipment are Needed in the Beginner’s Guide to Ultimate Frisbee?
  5. What are the Rules to the Ultimate Frisbee Drills?
  6. What are the Ways to Throw a Frisbee?
  7. Which is Better Play: The Cup or Man Defence?
  8. The Hobby Kraze’s Guide to Extra Lingo of the Ultimate Frisbee Game

Before we begin, you should know that, in the game itself, frisbee is just the term commonly associated with the fun act of throwing and catching. However, it isn’t actually called frisbee. In reality, ultimate frisbee should legally be shortened down to ‘ultimate’.

In 1957, American toy company Wham-O released the first plastic flying disc. It was originally named the ‘Pluto Platter’ but was changed the following year to ‘Frisbee’. This is actually a misspelling, but you’ll find out more about this later in the article!

With its sheer success, the name was trademarked by the US toy brand and to ‘throw a Frisbee’ was a game act only used to describe this toy prior to competitors bringing their own versions of the flying disc to the market. 

Yet, the word frisbee became common usage no matter what the game, material, size or brand. So, despite the Frisbee being trademarked to Wham-O, it is used interchangeably throughout the sport and fun endeavour around the globe to describe a person knowing how to play flying disc. 

It’s the same brand confusion that’s happened with ‘Hoover’, ‘Jacuzzi’ and Wham-O’s other toy: the ‘Hula-Hoop’.

What is the Ultimate Frisbee Game?

What is the Ultimate Frisbee Game

Talking about a frisbee can sometimes trigger memories on a hot beach with the family where you would throw a frisbee among each other or even trips to the park with your pup to get the heart pumping.

However, ultimate frisbee is a whole new ballgame. Or should we day: flying disc game?

Ultimate frisbee is a sport played on a field with two teams of 7. It is a common sport with rising popularity across the UK and the US. The aim of the game is to throw a frisbee to a team player, and for that team player to catch within the opponent’s zone in order to score a point.

In comparison to most other two-team sports, it is quite simple while making use of a wide range of skills including speed, agility and keen hand-eye co-ordination. For example: football; what even is the offside rule?

When Did the Rules of How to Play Flying Disc Develop?

When Did the Rules of How to Play Flying Disc Develop

It wouldn’t really be the beginner’s guide to ultimate frisbee is we didn’t delve straight into an iconic history book or two here at The Hobby Kraze. So, it all started in 1871…

A man named William Frisbie (note the spelling) opened a pie shop titled the Frisbie Pie Company. With its great success, students from nearby Universities in Connecticut would travel out for a pie and take them home. 

After the pies had been annihilated, students began throwing the empty tin cases at each other whole shouting ‘Frisbie’ as they would release it. 

However, it wasn’t until nearly 80 years later that partners Frederick Morrison and Warren Franscioni developed a plastic flying disc that was more aerodynamic than the pie tins. They were more durable, travelled faster and continued to fly in the air for longer distances. 

Later on, in 1955, this idea was sold to the popular US toy chain Wham-O by Morrison. The model sold was a slightly more improved version and was named the ‘Pluto Platter’ to capitalise on – then – current public infatuations on UFO’s.  

Wham-O officially released the flying disc in 1957 but changed the name to Frisbee in 1958 to commemorate its origins. However, they spelled it wrong and the name simply stuck. 

By 1967, a designer in the toy company called Ed Headrick decided to patent the newest version of the Frisbee which now had rings on the surface for better flight control. So, the toy was now patented by design and trademarked by name.

Keeping with US history, it was a student at Columbia High School in Maplewood of New Jersey who suggested making a team sport of the past-time. This student – named Joel Silver – pitched a sport to amalgamate American football with a frisbee and a calmer attitude to the school council in 1968. 

The first game was played that year and – of course – featured the Wham-O Frisbee. Since then, the game gained traction over the US and became a global sport.

Why Should You Learn How to throw a Frisbee?

Why Should You Learn How to throw a Frisbee

Knowing how to throw a frisbee can be very useful for more than the reasons of entering an ultimate frisbee game. 

If you know how to aim, throw and catch a frisbee, you will have far better hand-eye co-ordination than most making you a viable candidate for other sports or jobs. Plus, you’ll always be the person invited to the beach get-away with friends. 

Here at The Hobby Kraze, we like to list all the true reasons to start a hobby. And, when it comes to active hobbies, there can be so many more advantages to gain. Have a look:

  • Better hand-eye co-ordination
  • Better agility through fast pivots
  • Your stamina will increase
  • You’ll become part of a team
  • Your team building skills will increase
  • You’ll always have like-minded people to socialise with
  • Your team will become your family
  • There are soft frisbees to play with younger players
  • You can play indoors or outdoors
  • It is a very affordable sport to be a part of 
  • Ultimate frisbee drills can be played with friends, family and your dog
  • You don’t have to be immediately good in order to join a team
  • Knowing how to throw a frisbee is a good way to understand physics
  • It is a non-contact sport so there’s no need to worry of injury
  • It is a sport that can be played by all ages
  • There are global tournaments allowing you to travel the world
  • You don’t have to have your own frisbee
  • You can take your frisbee on holiday 
  • You can play wherever or whenever you’d like
  • Teams can be all one gender or mixed
  • A lot of the rules are based on trust and team support
  • It is not a loud game
  • You don’t need specific equipment apart from the frisbee
  • It is better for your heart as it lowers pressure
  • Being active and outside helps you live longer
  • You’ll always have a weekly event to look forward to
  • You’ll be releasing the happy hormones
  • There are only two roles in the ultimate frisbee game to think about

Which Tools and Equipment are Needed in the Beginner’s Guide to Ultimate Frisbee?

Which Tools and Equipment are Needed in the Beginner’s Guide to Ultimate Frisbee

When it comes to the ultimate frisbee shopping list, there really isn’t much to it. As we’ve mentioned, it is a very affordable sport anyone can play will very little kit unless you’re on a team. Otherwise, you may need to wear the team kit. 

When it comes down to it, despite the rise in popularity over recent years, it is still a very new sport with few players. As of 2020, there are approximately 7 million players taking part across 80 countries. 

It hasn’t even reached the Olympics. In fact, climbing (an old time and established sport) only qualified for the Olympics in 2019. 

With this, the beginner’s guide to ultimate frisbee doesn’t have layer upon layers of special equipment or standardised tools needed for the sport. Nonetheless, there are some key items are best kept in your bag for the best experience when learning how to play flying disc sports. 

Plus, with it being so relaxed and affordable, there’s no better time to start than before the popularity grows and more equipment becomes compulsory. 

Have a look at what your shopping cart should hold (for now):

  • The Flying Disc
  • Cleats
  • Friction Gloves
  • Thermal Layers
  • Training Bag
  • Compression Socks
  • Hat
  • Team Home Kit
  • Team Away Kit
  • Sports Sunglasses
  • Water
  • Sun Lotion
  • Coaching Board
  • Injury Tape
  • Chalk
  • Training Cones
  • Foam Roller
  • Shin Pads
  • Sand Socks
  • Disc Toss Target

What are the 10 Rules to the Ultimate Frisbee Drills?

What are the Rules to the Ultimate Frisbee Drills

As you know, the aim of the game is to catch the frisbee in the end zone of the opposite team using your 6 team-mates. 

Luckily, there isn’t much more complication to the game. In fact, there are only ten rules and the majority of which in the ultimate frisbee game are adopted from other sports such as: netball, basketball and football. 

For example: this sport has a pivoting leg much like in netball. And, it makes use of American football’s scoring system whereby points are awarded after object of sport (in this case, a frisbee) is caught in the end zone. 

But, let’s get down to the ten rules of how to play flying disc in an ultimate frisbee game:

  • Field of Play

The playing field is generally on grassy ground but can be done on sand or the hard floor of an indoor arena. The dimensions of the field must be 40 yards wide and 70 yards long. Then, the regulation of the end zones within the field are 40 yards wide and 20 yards long.

  • Scoring of Points

Points are awarded when the offense clippers catch the frisbee in the defence’s end zone. When the point is awarded, players return to the start of play and teams switch gameplay direction.

  • Start of Game

Each team begins in a line of 7 on the edge of their end zone. The teams face each other and defence begins with the frisbee. Then, the defence team choose marks for the game and pull the frisbee to begin. During the game, there are two ‘roles’: the handler and the cutter. The handler throws the frisbee and the cutter catches. These roles interchange throughout gameplay.

  • Play of Frisbee

The frisbee moves up and down the field by players throwing at each other. However, when the frisbee is in possession, the player must engage their pivot leg. This means, whoever has the flying disc must firmly plant their non-dominant leg on the ground. This leg is not allowed to leave the position until the frisbee has left their hand. In order to move and find stance for a powerful throw, the player is allowed to pivot around their pivot leg using their dominant leg.

  • Rule of Turnover

During the game, there are a few reasons for a turnover. For example: a dropped disc, foul, defended pass, stall out or out-of-bounds. When a turnover is called (sometimes said as ‘turn’), the player with the disc must hand it to the opposing team who take the disc to the brick mark and pull for a new point.

  • Substitution of Players

After a point has been awarded or an injury has befallen a player, the team can make substitutions. Any player sat on the side-line can get their go in the match. As long as there remains only 7 players per team at all times and the substitution is completed at one of the two permitted times, any player substitution can occur.

  • Rule of Non-Contact

In the ultimate frisbee game, players cannot make contact as it is a non-contact sport much like netball. I.e., no players can touch each other. If contact is made, it can result in a foul. 

  • Foul of Play

Foul play is called when contact is made between two players. In order to notify the occurrence, a player calls ‘foul’. The player committing the foul needs to either agree or contest the foul. Agreeing allows the team who had the foul committed to keep the possession of the frisbee yet contesting means the play must be re-done.

  • Responsibility of Player

Each player has the responsibility of calling the game. This means they need to call a pull, call a turnover, call a foul and more. They are also given the power to dispute their own fouls as long as the game remains non-contact.

  • Spirit of Game

All players must respect each other and the game. This means no harm should come to players, kindness should be given, and the game should be played with honesty. 

What are the Ways to Throw a Frisbee?

What are the Ways to Throw a Frisbee

Throwing a flying disc is not quite as simple as holding it with your dominant hand, forcing it in a direction, letting go and hoping for the best. 

There are different throws used in varied circumstances for the desired outcome. And, each of these will be a preferred method to their own player. Meaning you should have a play around to see which you’re best at, which needs work, and which provides the straightest and most powerful throw. 

In fact, there are many different ways to throw a frisbee or flying disc that relate to other sports such as baseball, tennis and basketball. Yet, here as this is the beginner’s guide to ultimate frisbee, we thought we’d cover the three most common starter throws to get you in the game.

The ways to throw a frisbee you should master when learning how to play flying disc are:

Backhand

This is the most common and easiest to master throw of them all. Once you have this throw in your arsenal, you’ll know how to play flying disc in an ultimate frisbee game. 

To get started you need to hold the frisbee with your dominant hand. Your four fingers will be the under the lip of the frisbee, your thumb will be on top and the frisbee will be flat facing the sky.

Place the leg corresponding with your dominant side in front and bend at the knee. Use the back leg for support and thrust. 

In order to push and release: bring the frisbee over to the waist of your non-dominant side, slightly twist toward the side of the frisbee, focus on the target goal or clipper (who will be stood at your 2 o’clock) and throw your frisbee toward them.

Your twisted body with provide the momentum you need in order to give speed and stability to the flight of the disc. 

Top tip: don’t throw it in the air or toward the ground in the hopes that wind will take control; throw directly at the clipper or target.

Forehand (Flick)

Second to the backhand, the flick is a similar throw but doesn’t take the frisbee to the non-dominant side of the body. 

This method to throw a frisbee is the most efficient as it takes the least energy yet can be done in the smallest amount of time. 

To complete a forehand or flick manoeuvre, you’ll need your frisbee to be held in your dominant hand with your three middle fingers under the rim of the disc, the thumb on top and your little finger will just hang outside for fun. 

Facing your target head-on, place your dominant leg slightly behind you and bend the knee. This will act as support when you throw the disc.

Then, as if you were to skip pebbles on the water’s surface, bring the frisbee up to your dominant shoulder. The release process includes flicking your wrist back and down before thrusting it forward and releasing the disc toward your target. 

Hammer Throw

The final of the three most important throwing techniques in your frisbee career is the hammer throw. And, when mastered, looks pretty cool. You’ll use this to get a little height and loft the frisbee over the heads of the defence in front of you.

For the hammer throw, you’ll need your target at 11 o’clock. Place your dominant leg behind you and use this for balance and thrust in the throw. 

When holding the frisbee, you’ll need to grab the rim as if it were a pen. With your thumb on the top of the disc. 

However, unlike with the backhand or flick, the disc needs to be held vertically instead of flat. 

Bring the frisbee over your dominant shoulder, letting the weight of the frisbee hang behind your hand. Then, launch the frisbee forward while flicking your wrist to generate the required spin. 

Other throws you’ll pick up from the team as you progress with the ultimate frisbee game:

  • High Release (Throwing the disc flick or backhand from a height)
  • Low Release (Throwing the disc flick or backhand near the ground)
  • Chicken Wing (Beginning with an upside-down disc, only to flip at the last moment)
  • Elevator Pass (Throwing the disc for height rather than distance)
  • Push Pass (Push the disc when throwing to create a reverse spin)
  • Roller Throw (Throwing the disc at a 70-degree angle rather than flat)
  • Scoober (An upside-down roller throw from a hammer stance)
  • Thumber (A thumb-on-top flick with the disc upside-down)
  • Wheeler (Throw like a baseball with disc upside-down and thumb creating spin)

Which is Better Play: The Cup or Man Defence?

Which is Better Play The Cup or Man Defence

During the game, there are two major team defence tactics you should know. This is because it can affect the way you practice your ultimate frisbee drills and learn how to play flying disc or how to throw a frisbee.

The first – man defence –, is the most common way to defend and is used in many other sports such as football, netball, basketball and American football. In these games, each player has a mark and throughout the game, they block that one mark. This works well as it matches players to their ability, and it can offer ease of playback.

The second is to use a formation called the cup. This formation consists of having one handler of the opposing team holding the frisbee and getting ready to pass. One member of your team will be marking the handler. Three other players form a crescent moon close by while the remaining three players form a larger crescent moon in the background to cover the field.

Using man defence is the best way to get started as a new player because you’ll be bettering your personal defence skills against other players who match your capabilities. Then, after you’ve practiced with your team, you can begin to use technical formations such as the cup. 

The cup is a great way to cover the grounds on a field and confuse the handler for where a good and open catch would be. It also allows for the ho stack to begin (we’ll cover this in the glossary, so be sure to keep reading along!).

However, as this is the beginner’s guide to ultimate frisbee, the team here at The Hobby Kraze will always suggest starting off with a man defence tactic.

The Hobby Kraze’s Guide to Extra Lingo of the Ultimate Frisbee Game

The Hobby Kraze’s Guide to Extra Lingo of the Ultimate Frisbee Game

We couldn’t leave you in the dark to head to your first game without knowing some of the terms that will be thrown across the playing field. 

It’s all well and good to understand the ultimate frisbee game and how to play flying disc. But becoming a meerkat with a frisbee after someone has shouted something you’ve never heard before can be detrimental to the overall score. 

So, we’re here to fill the gaps. 

  • Airbender

This term doesn’t refer to the popular anime and film series, yet it does link to the same skills. An airbender is one of the best names someone could give you when playing ultimate frisbee. It denotes you being an incredible handler who knows how to manipulate a flying disc to particular flight paths. 

  • Bid

Bidding is a key element to playing an ultimate frisbee game. It refers to the way you will jump, fall, dive, slide, glide, swim (not really) or any other exuberant activity to catch the frisbee other than putting your hand up and clasping upon arrival. A bid is a great part of the game to get in a photo, so brush up your catching skills.

  • Blade

A blade is a name given to the way a flying disc will travel after someone has put too much effort in to throw a frisbee. The disc will not fly straight, it will warp, and it will change a course of action to come down very hard and fast. It can be difficult to catch a blade (or even want to, as they can hurt).

  • Brick Mark

After a freshly pulled disc flies or lands out of bounds, the opposing team will need to pick it up and take it to the brick mark in order to continue play. The brick mark is located 20 yards away from the end zone and on the vertical centre line.

  • Bullet Pass

A bullet pass is named as such because such strategic force and spin is placed on a frisbee as it travels through the air. And, this speed and travel is akin to a bullet. These types of throws are normally done close to the ground as there is little air or wind to change its course.

  • Callahan

A rare feat in the ultimate frisbee drills, it is when a player catches a flying disc in the opponent’s end zone resulting in a point for them rather than a point for the opponents. 

  • Contest

Pronounced with a ‘u’ in the place of the ‘o’ the contest is called when a foul has occurred. After a foul between two players has happened, a player must yell ‘foul’. Then, the player who fouled must admit to the action in accordance with spirit of the game. However, if they deny the foul, then they have contested it and will result in a re-do of the recent gameplay.

  • Cherry Picker

A cherry picker is the name given to a person who will tend to stay behind the line of an end zone. This act is normally frowned upon as it doesn’t relate to true gameplay. The player can either be in their end zone to catch a long throw or the opponent’s end zone to block a point.

  • Defence

When defending, there are two ways to block, you can either ‘catch your D’ (catch your defence) or ‘slap’. If you slap, you are simply hitting a disc out of the air and allowing it to fall to disallow an opponent to catch it. If you catch your D, then you aren’t slapping the defence away but catching it. This will always be the better defence play technique.

  • Force Home

Forcing is another gameplay tactic where you can effectively force the type of throw a frisbee player uses and in which direction. For example, if you stand on the right-hand side of a player (who is right-side dominant) they can’t throw a frisbee forehand or flick, they must throw backhand. In the same light, when forcing a player’s throw, you can force the throw in the home direction of your team instead of away. 

  • Ho Stack

A ho stack (short for horizontal stack) is one of the most common offensive gameplay tactics used throughout ultimate frisbee drills. Two or three handlers have the frisbee and pass it back and forth in a line. The remaining cutters in the team then oscillate up and down the playing field to evade their mark. When a cutter is free, the handler can throw the flying disc to them.

  • Huk

A huk (spelled huck in the US) is just the name given to a long throw. This throw can cover the length of the playing field and will head to the end zone for a point. Often, the huk is what a cherry picker will wait for throughout the game.

  • Lag

The lag is the amount of airtime the flying disc gets before being caught or coming to the ground. In terms of the pull, lag is intentional and targeted. This is because it allows players to move from calling lines to strategic positions in the game.

  • Mismatch

Before the disc is pulled, players call their marks. Often, marks will be players on the other team with the same height, weight, stamina, gender and skill. However, sometimes players can be left with a mismatch. Look out for these mismatches in the game as they can make or break it. 

  • Pancake

This is the most popular way to catch a frisbee, especially for beginners. You will use both hands, catching the flying disc by clapping your hands together with one hand on the top and one underside. This prevents dropping and is a great way to practice before using a one-handed snap catch.

  • Pull

In order for the frisbee to enter the game, someone will ‘pull’ it. This means a good thrower in the offensive team will throw a frisbee into the field to start a new point.

  • Reading

This refers to the action of ‘reading the game’. In basic terms, it is trying to predict the movements of the frisbee throughout the game. While in the air, many factors affect flight and landing such as the wind. Using these factors, a player can work out where and how to catch the flying disc in an ultimate frisbee game.

  • Run Through

A run through involes running across the field to an open area in order to catch closer to the end zone and away from your mark. This is typically something a player will tell someone if they are a bad thrower but a good catcher. Often, it’s for the newbies in the game.

  • Stall

When playing, you’ve got ten seconds to pass the frisbee onto the next player (hence the ho stack technique of passing). When an opposing player is within ten feet of you and trying to force or block you, another player can begin the countdown by saying “stall 1, stall 2, stall 3” and so on. When the stall count reaches ten, it is classed as a turnover and the opposing team gets the frisbee.

  • Taco’d

This is the name of a process that can occur to your frisbee. As it is only plastic, it can warp. Especially on hot days, after a rough game play, after overuse or when a hard blade is thrown. After a flying disc has warped, it will not fly straight and cannot be used. 

  • Universe Point

A universe point is the point that wins the game. It is often called before the end of the game to mean that after the next point is taken, the winners must be declared, and everyone can go home. However, this is mainly used throughout ultimate frisbee drills or pick-up games to call them short.

Conclusion 

With that, you have been thrown the beginner’s guide of ultimate frisbee. To conclude, we wanted to let you know that there are teams across the country for you to contact and join. While you may want to practice at home with some friends, family or a disc toss target, always put yourself out there to become part of a team and increase your skill level exponentially. 

Many Universities are part of BUCS (British Universities and College Sports) and have teams that progress onto national level with women’s, men’s and mixed teams. For more, have a look at the ‘UK Ultimate’ website and you’ll find the right team for you.

Don’t forget to share your progress and send the team here at The Hobby Kraze a picture of your best bid over social media!

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