A non-contact sport where the referee is superfluous. On the worldwide phenomenon of Ultimate Frisbee

Low-key sports
Chandler Lee
A non-contact sport where the referee is superfluous. On the worldwide phenomenon of Ultimate Frisbee
It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

In Poland, frisbee is still associated mainly with outdoor play, which often involves four-legged pets. However, five years ago the International Olympic Committee officially recognized this agility game as a sport. What’s more, there are even discussions about including Ultimate Frisbee among the Olympic disciplines!

The amateur version of this sport doesn’t require sophisticated skills or a lot of money – it’s enough to buy a flying disc for a few dozen zlotys, gather a group of friends and go to an open space. However, to compete at the highest level, you need a set of key qualities such as stamina, speed, and agility. This is because Frisbee combines elements of basketball, rugby, soccer and handball.

The gameplay itself is not complicated. Two teams of seven players face each other on a field measuring 100 × 37 meters, although depending on the conditions and possibilities of the match organizers, the standard dimensions may vary slightly. The team that collects more points or exceeds a predetermined limit during the match wins. How to score points? All you have to do is to successfully catch the frisbee in the opponent’s point zone, the so-called zona. Both zones are located at the ends of the field and are 18 meters long. What is important, it is forbidden to run with the frisbee – after catching it, the player must stop and throw it to a teammate in no more than 10 seconds without taking his or her foot off the ground. Of course, it is not so easy, as the opponent usually tries to interfere with an accurate play. In addition to the interception, a change of possession can occur as a result of the disc falling to the ground, being caught out of bounds or being knocked to the ground by a defensive player.

The undoubted advantage of this game is its non-contact nature. Thanks to this nothing stands in the way of men competing against women or adults against children. The biggest peculiarity, and also a difference compared to the sports from which frisbee originated, is the lack of referees. All disputes are resolved by the participants themselves in accordance with the principle of fair play. If they cannot reach an agreement, the disputed game is repeated.

Ultimate frisbee supporters, whose number in our country is estimated at only a few thousand, dream that their beloved sport will finally be included in the Olympic disciplines. So far, the IOC has not decided on such a solution, so lovers of flying discs are left with the excitement of skirmishes at the World Games, which was organized in 2017 by Wroclaw (the Poles ended the frisbee competition without a medal – editor’s note). In our country, national competitions are conducted by the Polish Ultimate Players Association – the organizer of the Polish Championship in the Open and Woman categories, as well as the Youth Polish Championship.


Much more opportunities exist in the United States, where there are over 6 million Ultimate enthusiasts! The biggest international non-governmental organization associating 80 national federations of frisbee sports – World Flying Disc Federation – has its headquarters there. In the highest level of competition in the U.S. (American Ultimate Disc League) currently 22 teams take part, which first compete in the regular season that lasts from April to July, and the best then fight for victory in the play-off phase, which culminates in the Final Four. Outside of America, frisbee fans are also growing in Australia or the UK, so an Olympics involving the sport seems like a matter of time.

Featured image: Wikipedia

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