Cambridge Idiots' edition of the Rules of Ultimate

This document is written to concentrate on a few of the rules of Ultimate that are quite important in intermediate-level play, but many intermediate-level players don't actually know them.

Unfortunately on some of the points discussed in this document, the UPA rules differ from the WFDF rules, and the UPA rules are the ones I looked at. However, in Europe I am told that WFDF rules are normally used. I've indicated these differences but I am not sure I have caught all of them.

The aim is to save you the hassle of reading through all the rules to find the rules that you don't know.

Contents:


Picks

A pick is called when a defender is unable to follow the offensive player he/she is marking. The important issues to get clear are: First let's state the possible rules. There are several, and I have heard that even at World Championship level these rules are debated from one end of the spectrum to the other. What the WFDF rules say:
404.14 C - you can call a pick.
404.17 A - play is stopped, continued with a check back at thrower.
404.17 B - Only continue if disc is in the air when pick called and
           team who called foul gain advantage.

--------------------------------------------------------------------
    404.14.  Positioning:
        A.  Right to Position:
          Every player, with the exception of the thrower as set forth in
          section 404.10(B), is entitled to occupy any position on the field
          not occupied by any opposing player, provided that he does not cause
          personal contact in taking such a position.
        B.  Avoiding Contact:
          It is always the responsibility of all players to avoid contact in
          any way possible.  Violent impact with legitimately-positioned
          opponents constitutes harmful endangerment, is a foul and must be
          strictly avoided.
        C.  Picks:
          No player may establish a position, or move in such a manner, so as
          to obstruct the movement of any player on the opposing team.  In the
          event of a pick, the obstructed player shall immediately call,
          "pick" loudly.  Play shall then be stopped and be resumed only after
          a check, with the stall count resuming from the point of
          interruption or to five if the count is over five.  The continuation
          rule applies only to the next catch after the pick call.
        D.  Principal of Verticality:
          All players shall have the right to the space immediately above
          them.  Accordingly, a player cannot prevent an opponent from
          attempting to catch a pass by placing his arms above an opponent.
          If a player so places his arms, and contact occurs, a foul may be
          called.
        E.  Playing the Disc:
          Whenever the disc is in the air, all players shall play the disc in
          lieu of the opponent.
        F.  Rights of Players Off the Ground:
          A player who has jumped is entitled to land at the same point
          without hindrance by opponents.  He may also land at another point
          provided the landing point was not already occupied at the time of
          his takeoff and if the direct path between the takeoff and landing
          point was not already occupied at the time of takeoff.

------------------------------

    404.17.  Stoppage of Play:
        A.  General:
          Whenever an infringement of the rules or a time-out occurs, play is
          halted and the disc is put back into play with a check at the point
          of the last possession before play was stopped, except as otherwise
          provided by these rules.
        B.  Play Continuation Rule:
            (1)
              If a foul, violation or pick is called while the disc is in the
              air, play continues until possession of the disc is gained.
            (2)
              If the team who would receive the benefit of the call gains
              possession as a result of a pass committed prior or during the
              time the call was made, play shall continue unhalted.  It is the
              responsibility of the player who made the call to call out,
              "play on" to indicate that this rule has been invoked.
        C.  Disputes:
          Whenever there is a failure to come to an agreement over any call,
          the disc shall be returned to the last thrower prior to the dispute
          via a check.
        D.  Offsetting Fouls:
          If offsetting catching fouls are called by offensive and defensive
          players on the same play, the disc shall be returned to the last
          thrower at his point of possession via a check.

If you want to read it, here is what the UPA rules (9th edition with most but not all of the recent changes) say: -- otherwise skip to the conclusions.
3. Picks: 
    A. No player may establish a position, or move in such a manner,
        so as to obstruct the movement of any player on the opposing
        team; to do so is a "pick.
    B. In the event of a pick, the obstructed player must immediately.
        call "Pick" loudly; play stops and is resumed after a check,
        *unless the continuation rule [XIX-2] applies.*
              . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 
2. *Continuation Rule: 
    A. Disc In the Air 
           1. If a foul, violation, or pick is called while the
              disc is in the air, the play is always completed. 
           2. If the team which called the foul, violation, or
              pick gains possession as a result of that pass
              (e.g., an incomplete pass following a
              traveling violation, or offensive foul),
              play continues unhalted. In this situation, players
              should call "play on." 
           3. If the pass is completed, but the defensive effort
              on the pass was affected by the violation (e.g. picks),
              the pass does not count and possession reverts back
              to the thrower. 
    B. Disc Not in the Air 
           1. If a foul, violation, or pick is called while the
              disc is not in the air, and a player attempts a pass
              before play has stopped, and the pass is incomplete,
              it is a turnover. 
           2. If a foul, violation, or pick is called while the
              disc is not in the air, and a player attempts a pass
              before play has stopped, and the pass is completed,
              the pass does not count, and possession reverts back
              to the original thrower.* 
    C. It is the responsibility of the player who made the call to
           call out "Play on" to indicate that this rule has been invoked. 
   3. If there is ever a failure to come to an agreement over any call,
           the disc reverts back to the thrower after a check.

   5. Any time the marker's count is interrupted by the call of a foul,
           violation, pick, or time-out, the count is resumed as follows: 

    Travel or Pick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . same or 5 if over 5

Conclusion [upa]

Although it
looks in the rules as if there might be a difference between what happens if the disc is in air, and if the disc is not in the air, there is no difference. The correct rules are thus:

Always-complete-the-play rules with the Depends-on-who-received-it variation

Regardless of the timing of the throw and the pick call, your O players had better try complete the pass (if a pass is made). If they fail then it is a turn-over. If the pass was completed in a way unaffected by the pick then the disc stays with the successful receiver. In this case, the dude who called the pick must call play on loudly . If the pass was affected, then disc returns to the thrower, and there is a check. Stall counts above 5 go back to 5.

If a D player intercepts the pass, that player receiving the disc should call `PLAY ON'.


Checks

When is it necessary for the O player to check the disc with a D player? Sometimes you see novice O players holding the disc out to be touched virtually every time they get it. In fact checks occur in order to start play or restart play when play has stopped -- which doesn't happen very often.

Here's the rules

Notice the events which are not on this list: Thus basically, a check only occurs when play has stopped (but read on...)

This is what a check is:

Does there have to be a check after the pull?

If the pull lands or is caught in-bounds then, no, there is no check. The thrower `puts the disc in play' simply by establishing a pivot foot. To put the disc into play at a particular point on the field means to place the pivot foot at that point on the field.

Note in particular this means that if you catch it in the endzone and bring it up to the front line you just put your foot on the line, no check needed.

What if the pull's out of bounds?
Here are the rules:

What to do when a foul is called? (and when may you call a foul?)

Just as with picks, there is confusion over fouls---whether one should play on after a foul has been called. The same rules apply as for picks, but (as I will explain) I think that there is a problem in this case.

Here are the rules.

(see also the continuation rule above, under picks).
XVI. Fouls

 1. Fouls are the result of physical contact between opposing players.
  A foul can only be called by the player who has been fouled and
  must be announced by calling out the word "Foul!" loudly
  immediately after the foul has occurred.

 2. The player initiating contact is guilty of a foul.

 3. Throwing Fouls: 
  A. A throwing foul may be called when there is contact
      between the thrower and the marker. 
  B. Contact occurring during the follow through (after the disc
      has been released) is not sufficient grounds for a foul, but
      should still be avoided whenever possible. 
  C. When a foul is committed by a thrower or the marker, play
      stops and possession reverts back to the thrower after a
      check. 
  D. If the thrower is fouled in the act of throwing and the pass is
      completed, the foul is automatically declined and play
      continues without interruption. 
  E. If the marker is fouled in the act of throwing and the pass is
      not completed, play continues without interruption. 
 4. Catching Fouls: 
  A. A catching foul may be called when there is contact
      between opposing players in the process of attempting a
      catch, interception, or knock down. A certain amount of
      incidental contact during or immediately after the catching
      attempt is often unavoidable and is not a foul. 
  B. If a player contacts an opponent before the disc arrives and
      thereby interferes with that opponent's attempt to make a
      play on the disc, that player has committed a foul. 
  C. If a player's attempt to make a play on the disc causes
      significant impact with a legitimately positioned stationary
      opponent, before or after the disc arrives, *it is considered
      "harmful endangerment" and is a foul.* 
  D. Dangerous, aggressive behavior or reckless disregard for the
      safety of fellow players is always a foul. 
  E. If a catching foul occurs and is uncontested, the player fouled
      gains possession at the point of the infraction. If the call is
      disputed, the disc goes back to the thrower. *If an
      uncontested foul (with the exception of a force-out foul
      [XV-9]) occurs in the end zone, the player fouled gains
      possession at the closest point on the goal line to the
      infraction.* 

Summary of important points

What about travels?
Someone hollers travel, and the disc whizzes by. Do you carry on playing? In the U.K., the way this is played is the disc always goes back if complete and if incomplete, the violation is `declined' and the D team gets a turnover.
David MacKay <mackay@mrao.cam.ac.uk> Strange Blue Ultimate
Last modified: Tue Apr 1 13:36:25 1997