What is the Sport Called Ultimate?

Ultimate is a dynamic, non-contact team sport that combines elements of soccer, basketball, and American football, all played with a flying disc. It's celebrated for its spirit of the game, emphasizing sportsmanship and fair play. Intrigued by how a simple disc can inspire such passion? Discover the unique blend of athleticism and camaraderie that defines Ultimate. Ready to catch the excitement?
J. Beam
J. Beam

Ultimate is a competitive team sport that parallels American football, except that ultimate is a non-contact sport played with a flying disc. Credit for the creation of the sport is given to Joel Silver, who first organized a collegiate ultimate team when he attended Lafayette College in 1970. Today, in North America, ultimate is an intercollegiate sport and has been governed by its own organization, the Ultimate Players Association, or UPA, since 1980.

Ultimate is sometimes referred to as Ultimate Frisbee. Frisbee is a brand-name flying disc produced by Wham-o and Frisbees are sometimes used to play ultimate, the flying discs manufactured by Discraft are more commonly used. Following the rules of the sport, regulation ultimate must be played with a disc weighing 175g (6.173 ounces).

Boy playing with a ball
Boy playing with a ball

A regulation game of ultimate is played with two opposing teams, each consisting of seven players on the field at one time. The field measures 70 yards (64 meters) in length by 40 yards (37 meters) in width and includes end zones. The objective is to score points by receiving passes thrown by teammates into the opposing team’s end zone. While the playing field and objective of ultimate parallel American football, the similarities of the two sports essentially end there.

In ultimate, teams typically play to be the first to score a pre-determined number of points rather than playing until a clock runs down. There is no contact allowed in ultimate, but the game is refereed only by the players not officials. Players are responsible for calling their own fouls in the spirit of good sportsmanship. In fact, the largest premise of the game of ultimate is based on “the spirit of play”, making it a game played as much for fun as it is for competition.

In addition to collegiate and championship play, ultimate is quickly gaining popularity in schools across North America and in other areas of the world. Because the equipment used to play is inexpensive, it makes an excellent addition to both physical education curriculums and also as an extra-curricular sport for schools. Organizations interested in more information about ultimate can visit the UPA’s official website where start-up kits are available at low or no cost. Certain organizations may be eligible for a grant designed to promote the sport in schools and communities where it does not yet exist or has not been organized.

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Discussion Comments


Drentel - I'm sure you are right about the competitive nature of some ultimate leagues. I would guess most players are somewhere between where I was when I was playing Frisbee football and where the players you spoke of are in terms of how seriously they take the game.

Ultimate sounds like a great game for young people in place of more dangerous contact sports. By the way, I see nothing wrong with competition mixed with a healthy amount of sportsmanship. In fact, I'm all for it.


Animandel - Don't make light of Ultimate. Some people really take the sport seriously. It may be about good sportsmanship over competition, but I have seen some very competitive recreational leagues where the players are very serious. And some of the players look like weight lifters and football players.


So it is called Ultimate now. We just called it Frisbee football when we played on the playground. I like the name Ultimate better. I find it more impressive. Sounds like there might be some intense training, running and weight lifting, involved in getting prepared to play a game called Ultimate.

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