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The Game (Basics)

We are playing a game of keep-away with a disc. Eventually, we want someone on our team to catch the disc in the other team’s endzone. If the other team has the disc, we want to intercept it or make them drop it. We aren’t allowed to touch the other team’s players.

The field looks like a football field. It is a rectangle with an endzone at either end.

Each team has seven players on the field. The game begins with the teams standing at opposite ends of the field. They stand on the front line of their endzone. One of the teams will start on defence, the other on offence. Let’s call the team that starts on defence The Canucks and the team that starts on offence The Ninjas. The Canucks begin the game by throwing the disc towards the Ninjas’ endzone. This starts the point and is like a kick-off in football. The Canucks run down the field and each of them picks a Ninja to mark. She will follow this Ninja wherever she goes and try to prevent her from catching the disc. One of the Ninjas either catches the disc that the Canucks have thrown or picks it up from where it has landed. When a player is holding the disc they cannot run. The Ninja with the disc then looks around for another Ninja to throw the disc to. Her teammates take turns in running towards her and trying to get away from the Canuck that is following them. The person with the disc throws it to a Ninja who she thinks will be able to catch it. If a Ninja catches the disc then they will look for someone to pass it to. The Ninjas will attempt to pass the disc until one of them catches it in the endzone. If they do this then they score a point. If a Ninja does not catch the disc then there is a turnover. A turnover means the Ninjas “turn over” possession of the disc to the Canucks. Turnovers happen when a misguided throw hits the ground or someone drops a pass. The defence can cause turnovers by knocking the disc to the ground or intercepting it. If the Ninjas turn over the disc, it is the Canucks turn to try to score. The Canucks will try to pass the disc until one of them catches it in the Ninjas’ endzone. The Ninjas will each choose a Canuck to mark (usually the one that was marking them) and try to prevent them from catching the disc. If there is another turnover, the Ninjas will be on offence again. This flip-flop of possession continues until one of the teams scores a point by catching the disc in the other team’s endzone. After a point is scored, the whole thing starts over again. The teams start on their endzone lines and the team that scored the point throws the disc to the other team.

Because there are no refs, ultimate relies on the honour system. Basically, the hope is that people will remember that it is just a game and isn’t worth cheating. Teams are expected to win because of ability and/or luck, not by being tricky cheaters. Players are expected to play by the rules and call fouls on themselves. Because it is hoped that no one will intentionally break the rules, there are no penalties for breaking them. If an infraction occurs, play is restarted in the way that best approximates what would have happened if the foul had not occurred.