Ultimate Vocab & Definitions
The sport of Ultimate Frisbee comes with its own culture, and with any culture there is a language. Here is the official dictionary of all vocabulary, terms, lingo and definitions Ultimate players use. We want to have the best Ultimate dictionary on the internet, and we think we’ve done it. Here is the COMPLETE list of the meanings of every single Ultimate Frisbee term known to man, and several known to monkeys. The terms marked with a red diamond ♦ indicate vocabulary that beginners should definitely know. The vocabulary without diamonds are a little more advanced and usually take a few years to pick up on. Hover over any links to view extra info. So let’s get started, what is a(n) ….
The word “Across” is sometimes used before a Pull as a speedier way to match up with an opponent. Instead of each teammate individually picking a mark as stated in the “Calling Lines” definition, someone will say “Across” meaning to mark whomever is directly across on the other team. For example, if I was standing 2nd to the left when my team is standing on the line I would mark the guy 2nd to the left on the other team. In the coed game, “gender across” adds the caveat that (assuming equal guy/girl ratios on each team) if a guy is lined up across from a girl, he would mark the next guy down in the line. In other words, guys would mark guys and girls would mark girls.
An Airbender is an exceptionally good Handler capable of manipulating the frisbee in ways never thought possible. They seem to complete every single pass with incredible accuracy and execution, no matter the situation. They are also a master of every single throw and typically know the game very well. “Airbender” is among one of the most prestigious nicknames to be called in Ultimate. There used to be countless Ultimate Frisbee Airbenders in existence but that all changed when the fire-nation attacked. ________________________________________
When a player dives or jumps for the disc either on offense or defense. A bid is basically a player diving, falling intentionally, jumping, or any more-than-average attempt to catch the disc. Bidding is an essential part of Ultimate on both offense and defense. In addition, it looks freakin’ awesome.
Similar to the word “virginity,” bidginity relates to the first time someone bids. Bidding is a mindset everybody has to overcome. Running full speed and bellyflopping the ground for the first time can be intimidating. It may be uncomfortable at first, and there might even be a little blood. But once it’s all over you’ll realize it wasn’t so bad and that you kind of want to do it again. Everyone will praise you for finally losing your bidginity and you’ll want to tell everyone the exact details of the moment. Most people lose it in college or even high school, and there’s always that one kid that lost it in middle school. Don’t be that person that goes through life never losing their bidginity. There is nothing that will bring you closer to the sport you love, so don’t be afraid to get down and dirty.
Pretty much a throw gone wrong which causes the disc to come down really fast and at a vertical-like angle. VERY hard to catch and can sometimes even warp the disc.
When you make a nice D, run upfield, then catch the next pass to score a point.
When Forcing you are making the player holding the disc throw a certain direction. A break is when your attempt fails and they throw the direction you are guarding against. A teammate may yell “no break!” if there is an opposing player wide open on the guarded side, this means try extra hard to guard that side.
Happens when a freshly pulled disc goes out-of-bounds. The receiving team take the disc to the brick-mark which is centrally located and 20 yards in-field from the first end zone line. A brick is signified by clapping hands once over head or by calling “Brick.”
An extremely fast moving frisbee with a lot of spin will be considered a “bullet.” It is a pass that typically stays low to the ground and is mostly used to Thread the Needle in tight situations. The disc flies fast and perfectly straight similar to a bullet. In most cases, your hand will be hurting after catching or defending a bullet pass.
Essentially one of the greatest and prestigious plays in Ultimate. It is when you catch an opponents pass in his/her end zone resulting in a point for the catchers team. This rarely ever happens, ever.
Calling Lines ♦
When both teams line up on each others end-zone before the Pull. Calling lines is for the defensive team (The team pulling) and means to pick the player you are going to cover for the entire point. You will see the 7 opposing players lined up from left to right waiting for the pull. Pretend that they are numbered left to right (like reading a book) 1 through 7. Say you want to guard the person standing sixth in line. A teammate will yell out “ZERO” to start the count. It is key to wait your turn as your teammates call out, in numerical order, “ONE” (meaning he/she is covering the first in line), a different teammate would yell “TWO”, another “THREE”, “FOUR”, “FIVE”, then you would yell “SIX” and the final teammate that hasn’t said a number automatically gets seven. If the opposing team happens to change order make sure you still have the original man you picked.
This can mean two things. 1) Clear out can mean an area is getting too clustered with people and to throw the disc to openness and 2) If someone is Clogging The Lane they may be told to “clear out.”
Clogging the lane
When being forced there is one side of the field being blocked and the other open. Clogging the lane means that a teammate is standing in the open area where other teammates are trying to get open.
Conservation of Greatness
Invented by Sir Albert Einstein himself (not really) this means that after an amazingly difficult, and successful, maneuver (catch, throw, anything crazy) will be immediately followed by an embarrassingly bad maneuver. I once had a friend who literally jumped clear over someone making a beautiful catch, only to land and throw the disc into the ground when he tried to pass it. Perfect example. It is essentially using all of your skill for a super amazing play and having no skill left over to do even the most basic play.
Not to be confused with the word meaning competition. It is pronounced Cun-test. When a foul occurs between two players the player that was wronged would call “FOUL.” According to the Spirit Of The Game the player that allegedly fouled should admit if they’ve wronged. If they admit to the foul there is no-contest and play would resume as if there was no foul. If the fouler denies that they have wronged then they have contested the foul usually resulting in a re-do. Almost any foul can be contested besides travels and picks. This is a crucial word to have in your Ultimate Frisbee vocabulary.
The awkward flight path of a hammer throw if thrown wrong. A hammer should only curve once and land on the top of the disc. A corkscrew is when it curves twice forming a double-helix making it very hard to read and catch.
A juke or sudden change in direction while trying to get open to receive the disc. An in-cut is when you run towards the thrower while an out-cut is the opposite; Running away from the thrower in hope to catch a deeper pass.
The two main offensive positions in Ultimate are the handler and the cutter. The cutters job is to cut, juke, and get open for a handler to pass to them. The main job of the cutter is to catch at all costs, and then to return it to a handler and repeat. The cutter does not need to be good at throwing, but it is preferred that they can run, catch, and know basic Plays.
Cherry Picker ♦
Someone who doesn’t move much and just stays in the end zone waiting for a long throw. This is typically frowned upon.
Check Feet ♦
No, your shoe laces are not untied. Check Feet means to check whether or not you are out of bounds. Sometimes you will catch the disc close (or on) the sideline, you may hear a teammate or opponent say “check feet!” which is basically them asking you if you’re in or not, especially if your playing Ultimate with cones rather than painted lines.
A not-so-common type of Ultimate Throw that can be used in special situations.
The game of Ultimate gets pretty intense at times. Some players get anxious with the disc and end up making a bad pass or throw. Telling a teammate to “stay chilly” is equivalent to saying “take your time” or “don’t do anything crazy.”
Stands for “Defense.” Another commonly used expression is “Catch your D’s” meaning instead of just slapping the disc away for a defense, catch the disc. This will eliminate the chance of you slapping the disc into the hands of your opponent, which happens pretty frequently.
What us Ultimate players use in games is an official sports-disc, not a frisbee. The word “Frisbee” is actually a trade-marked name of Wham-O. It is equivalent to referring to any car as a Honda, instead of using just the word “car.” In this example “car” is a sports-disc and “Honda” is a frisbee. It is just something we have come to call the round plastic thing we throw around. If you want to join the Ultimate culture you will have to replace the word “frisbee” with “disc.” An official Ultimate sports disc is 175 grams and the official mold governed by USA Ultimate is made by Discraft or Innova. This is an Ultra-Star 175G Ultimate Disc.
After a stop in play from the disc going out of bounds, a foul, or interference the player with the disc MUST tap it to the ground, or the opponents hand, to resume play. Yelling “Disc-In!” is completely optional but is ideal to let your team know to start moving. Your opponent might yell it as well for the same reason.
When holding the disc only one player can be within 10 feet of you, usually the player stalling you. If another player is within the 10 feet you can call “double team” and the stall count will restart. Note: opposing players are allowed to run and defend teammates within the 10 feet as long as they aren’t intentionally trying to block you.
Passing it backward to someone behind you, usually a Handler.
Best way to score a point in my opinion. This maneuver works very well if done at a fast pace. Simply pass it to an open player behind you, that player immediately throws it to a player on the opposite sideline, and that player immediately throws it down field to another player and the play repeats. If done correctly it will be difficult for the opposing defense to set up a play. This works best against the Cup.
An Ultimate Throw commonly used indoors and sometimes outdoors.
Just like in Football. In outdoor Ultimate the end zones are 25 yards deep. These dimensions can be altered as long as both end zones are equal. A player must catch the disc in the end zone to score a point.
Flip for Disc ♦
Like flipping a coin, the captains of each team flip a disc to determine who gets what side. The top of the disc is heads, which is the part of the disc where there is writing or a picture. The bottom is tails, which is the bowl-looking part of the disc. Typically, someone who is not a captain will flip the disc so it turns multiple times, and then the two opposing captains will call heads or tails while the disc is in the air. The winner of the toss decides whether they want to throw the disc to start the game or to receive. OR they can decide which side of the field to start on. Whatever the winner of the coin toss decides, the other captain gets to pick whatever option is left. Note: In my experience the disc lands tails more than half the time. So call tails if you want a better chance at winning the toss. You didn’t hear that from me.
Next to backhand, the flick is the most commonly used Ultimate Throw.
When marking an opponent it is best to look at them rather than looking at the thrower. By doing this, it makes it much harder for them to escape your grasp to get open. You may then ask.. “well, then how would I know when the disc is coming?” An “UP!” call is typically yelled by a teammate to let the rest of the team know to turn away from their mark and start looking for the disc. Face guarding is a highly effective defensive maneuver.
We all get antsy sometimes especially in the heat of play. Each stall count is supposed to be one-second long but in the midst of battle we may count faster then a second which can be called by the thrower, known as a stallout. If the staller doesn’t agree with the throwers call, they can Contest the call causing the stall count to move back only 2 seconds. If the play is not contested the count goes back to zero. A stall count for outdoor Ultimate is 10 seconds while an indoor game is usually 7 seconds.
Foot Block (or kick Block)
Some leagues do not allow this. It is how it sounds, a block with a foot. Make sure to check with the league or tournament rules before doing a foot block.
You can force forehand, force backhand or force home/away. Forcing means to make the opposing thrower throw a certain way. For example to force backhand would mean to stand on their right side completely giving them the ability to backhand. But making it next to impossible to throw a Flick. You would have successfully forced them to throw a backhand which is huge when it comes to plays and strategy. Forcing flick would be stopping the opposing thrower from throwing a backhand. As you can see in the picture to the right the thrower is being forced to flick it. He has a wide open flick but it will be very challenging to backhand. The force is agreed upon and understood by the entire team before a play to maximize effectiveness. Please checkout Stack to learn more about why forcing is so important.
Force Home/Away ♦
First look at forcing above. Just like how you would make an opposing thrower throw backhand you can make them throw Home or Away. Home is typically where your teams water, bags, and subs are. Home can also be where there is a school, an entrance to the park, or a parking lot. Your team will establish a home if it is too confusing. Away would be the opposite like a tree line, a vacant sideline, empty fields, etc. If you were to force home, you would stand on the opposite side of the thrower to make them throw towards the side of the field closest to home.
Usually yelled out to a player that needs to jump great lengths to get the disc. It is simply motivation for said player to get bigger (or higher). The combination of the words “get” and “big” have been used since ancient times to positively promote increased elevation when snagging the sweet circular object from the heavens.
Essentially the greatest play in Ultimate. It is when the disc gets thrown out-of-bounds, before the disc touches the ground a receiving player jumps from in-bounds, catches the disc in the air, and throws in back into play before he/she lands. If JUST that is done, it’s awesome. But if another player then catches it resuming play with no turnover, it’s even more awesome. And if you catch the disc in the end zone after the Greatest you will be nothing short of a legend.
When stalling or forcing an opponent who is about to throw the disc you inconveniently place your hand in the the way of their throw, thus blocking or deflecting the disc. In order for this to be legal, and not a foul, the disc would have had to completely leave the hand of your opponent even if it’s for a split second.
There are really only two main positions in Ultimate, The handler and the cutter. The handler is the one that handles the disc. Typically, the handler is an experienced player that has mastered at least the three main throws of Ultimate.. the hammer, backhand, and forehand. The handlers job is to stay back while the cutters try to get open. The handler will throw to the cutter to hopefully progress up the field. Since not everyone is capable of being a handler, the term can also used to describe a person’s skill level.
A very common used Ultimate Throw which is thrown over the head.
When hard cap is called at the 70 minute (example) mark the team with the most points wins, There is no win-by-two rule anymore. In this case your team would win 12-11. If by chance both teams are tied when hard cap is reached the team to score the next point wins. Comes after Soft Cap.
A type of Ultimate Throw that can be added to both the backhand and the flick.
Ho (Horizantal) Stack ♦
A super common offensive Ultimate Frisbee play that everyone should be familiar with. Everything you need to know about it can be found Here.
A pass that goes high and floats back down to earth slowly, allowing multiple players to get under it. Hospital passes tend to cause a lot of collisions and flying elbows which may result in injury, hence hospital.
When not enough players show up to have a full scrimmage or theres not enough room for a full field hotbox is the perfect game. Just indicate a 4′ by 4′ box in the middle of the playing area, make teams of at least two players, and play. The box is the end zone for both teams. Make a pass minimum which has to be met before one can score (like 4 passes). All other rules are like the real game.
Huck (Huk) ♦
A long throw down field. Huck may be spelled differently depending on the country you play.
This Ultimate frisbee term comes from the word “intimidate.” It basically means getting a defense without touching the disc or the player. How does that happen you ask? The mere pitter-patter of your footsteps behind an opponent trying to catch a disc is sometimes enough to get them to tense up and subconsciously brace for impact. This distraction is sometimes enough to get them to lose focus on the disc for a split second resulting in a drop. Don’t get intimi-D’ed!
On offense, A teammate may yell “Iso ______!” (The blank being someone’s name or nickname). This means for everyone else to clear away from that person so they can receive a pass. Opposing players usually don’t know your teammates names so this play is meant to take advantage of that.
Lag is a term often used to describe the amount of float time of a thrown disc. A disc can stay in the air for a long time depending on multiple factors such as wind, type of throw, and spin. “Lag” is usually used when talking about the Pull. The best kind of Pull is one that stays afloat for a long time allowing your teammates (and yourself) more time to get to the other end of the field. For more lag time it is best to throw the disc high and keep it as flat as possible. If you successfully managed to Lag, by the time the first offender picks up the disc they will already have your entire team covering them.
Basically another word for a Bid. A layout is more when you are running and dive forward with two hands out sliding flat on your chest to catch or block the disc. A bid is a more broad term meaning ANY type of dive.
One of the most epic things to ever happen in Ultimate Frisbee. It is the act of jumping so high to grab a disc that you literally jump over someone in the process. I found this video on YouTube which is the perfect example of a Leapfrog.
A type of Ultimate Throw that can be added to both the backhand and the flick.
Man on Man D
The most common defensive tactic in Ultimate. Simply put, you are assigned one man (or woman) on the other team. It is up to you to guard that man at all costs, never leave him or let him out of your reach. If your assigned player catches a point it is almost entirely your fault, so guard hard my friend. For a more in depth explanation check the play Man on Man Defense.
When you are told to cover a specific person they are your mark. Stay on your mark at all costs. It is your job to not let that single person get the disc, and to escape them when you are trying to get open for the disc.
When playing Man Defense, you will be assigned a mark to cover and to stay on throughout the entire point. Typically, you will be marking someone equal, or close to equal, your height and skill level. A Mismatch occurs when one of the two opposing players is significantly better or worse than the other. An example could be putting a 5′ 2″ guy on an opposing 6′ 5″ guy or putting a rookie player on a veteran player. Mismatches will always occur especially if the other teams skill levels are unknown. Always look for the Mismatch because sometimes they will work in your favor.
Stands for “Offense.” Not nearly used as much as the term “D.” Actually, “O” it is not really used at all. So don’t be that weird kid that uses it.
OB is short for out-of-bounds.
This stands for Outside-In. Frisbees do not fly straight most of the time. Their flight path can bend to resemble an arc. Experienced players are able to control this arc in order to curve the disc around an opponent and/or get it in a hard-to-reach spot. If you are a righty you would throw a backhand off the left side of your body. An O/I would make an arc on the left side of you eventually landing at medium distance straight in front of you. The opposite of this is an I/O.
A type of catch where a player claps his/her hands on the top and bottom of the disc. This is the most secure way to catch but severely limits one’s reach.
When guarding a man on defense you are given the right to guard them without interference. So say your on defense and guarding an opposing player by basically following them everywhere they go. If another player, whether a teammate or enemy, gets in the way or cuts you off allowing your Mark to escape and receive the disc you can call “pick!” That’s right, you can call pick on your own player. This call will result in a re-do if the player catches the disc, if the pass is not completed it will result in a turnover.
Pick-up game ♦
An unofficial game of Ultimate that may lack some rules and intensity. It is mostly for fun or practice.
Pivot Foot ♦
Like in basketball you must establish a foot to twist and turn on when holding the disc. This is your pivot foot. If you are a righty your pivot should be your left foot and visa versa. Your pivot foot must stay planted on the ground until the disc leaves your hands. A lifted pivot foot will result in a travel.
A player would yell “Poach!” if he/she is WIDE open. Not just a little open but really open. 99% of the time the player yelling poach would receive the disc. If the disc is defended it is not the throwers fault but the player who yelled it (assuming the throw is decent).
Sometimes used as a phrase to replace “Hand Block.” It is also sometimes synonymous with both hand block and foot block. The idea is that your blocking a potential point from being made.
The first throw off to start the game or to start a new point.
A super-short-range Ultimate Throw commonly used indoors and sometimes outdoors.
When a disc is thrown it can do many things. It can go straight, curve all different directions, come backwards, be greatly effected by wind, etc. “Reading” the disc means that you can accurately predict where it may land.
Run Through! ♦
Very important for beginners. If you can’t throw too well, but you can catch, there is zero reason behind you picking up the disc after you or someone defended it. A more experienced teammate will often say Run Through meaning don’t touch the disc, just get open.
Same or Different ♦
Like Flip for Disc, This is meant to choose sides or whether or not to throw/receive the disc at at the beginning of the game. To make the toss more fair one player from each team will flip the disc. A captain will call “same or different” while in the air. If both discs land with the same side facing up or down, it’s same. If one of the discs lands differently, then its different. Pretty easy right? The reason why this is better than Flip for Disc is because a member from each team flips, eliminating any foul play.
Savage (playing savage)
In outdoor Ultimate there are 7 players on the field. A full team usually consists of around 10-15+ players giving everyone a chance to sub and rest. A team that is going Savage is a full team that only has 7 players all together. No subs. It’s rough, real rough.
A type of Ultimate Throw commonly used in tight situations.
Making a fool out of someone by faking a throw and making them call “Up!” The defender must do a full 180 twist looking for the disc for maximum embarrassment.
When two opposing players jump up to try and catch the disc and one of those players jumps significantly higher than the other making the catch. One would say “Good catch man, you totally skied that kid.”
Ripping the disc out of the air as quickly as possible. Kind of resembles a frog catching a fly, but with your hand of course.
First read what a Bullet Pass is. A Snipe is basically a completed bullet pass. If the thrower successfully manages to throw the disc at bullet-like speeds through a group of people he/she could be referred to as a sniper. Through precision, accuracy, and a deep breath they successfully sniped their own player in the back of the end zone pulling off what was thought to be impossible.
So lets say the game is to 15 points and your winning 12-11 and exactly 60 minutes have gone by, which is the soft cap. This means that although the game is supposed to go to 15 points, it is now win-by-two. Meaning that a score of 13-11 or 14-12 can win the game. Hard Cap is the official end of the game no matter what.
In indoor Ultimate, some tournaments have a gym wall marking the back of the end zone. A Spiderman jump is when a player jumps off the wall and catches the disc. The best kind of Spiderman is when you use the wall to get higher than if you jumped normally. First check with the tourney rules before you attempt this.
Spirit of the Game ♦
Like the Bible has the Ten Commandments, Ultimate players have the Spirit of the Game. It is the foundation of Ultimate and it is what separates Ultimate from many other sports. It runs deep in every player. It can only be explained by the official USA Ultimate Governing Body .
As talked about in the vocabulary word above, spirit plays a big role in Ultimate Frisbee. The morals of Ultimate players are unmatched by any other sport. Some of these morals aren’t listed in the official rule book and have been born from the Ultimate culture. So a “Spirit Foul” is essentially something that goes against the average morals of a player but without officially breaking any rules. An example could be denying an obvious foul or skying a much weaker player.
A very common strategy used by many teams. Check out Plays to learn everything you need to know about Stack.
A player only has ten seconds to throw the disc. But only if an opposing player is within ten feet of them and stalling them. You would run up and say, loud enough for the thrower to hear, STALL 1, STALL 2, STALL 3…..STALL 10. Be reasonable, you can’t say your stalls super fast or your opponent will call a Fast Stall. Each stall should take about one second. The stall-count ends at the T* in STALL T*en, this is called a Stall-out and would result in a turnover from that spot.
A Stallout is when a defender fully stalls an offender with the disc for 10 full seconds (listed above). A turnover will result if a Stallout occurs in the spot at which the call was made. Only the staller can call a Stallout if one occurs.
When a player is forcing a particular way they are leaving a portion of the field completely open. It is your teams’ job to guard that open portion of the field. Sometimes an opposing player will stray away from a team member and become completely open. A team member would yell “Strike!” for you to change your force for about 3 seconds, long enough for them to get back on their man. Make sure you return to your normal force right after.
A type of foul. When the disc is flying through the air it is nobody’s. It is not until a player catches the disc and fully stops rotation that the disc is considered theirs. After a player stops rotation and it is taken or knocked from their hand by an opposing player a strip can be called. A tie always goes to the offense.
When a terrible pass has been made which calls for extreme effort by the catcher. Like a pass that lacks spin or goes too far, short or wide.
When you have the disc someone may yell at you to “Swing!” meaning switch the field. In other words throw it to somebody on the opposite sideline. This usually happens when both teams starts clustering on one side of the field when the entire other side is vacant.
A word no disc owner wants to hear. Its is a term for a warped disc. Usually caused by an intense Blade or just overuse. It’s a horrible feeling if your brand new disc gets taco’d.
Thread the Needle
When the disc is thrown to a teammate through a crowd of people that can easily defend the disc. It usually happens intentionally with the use of a Bullet Pass. The disc must be low-flying and almost touch two or more players before it reaches its destination. It is a great sight to see when it happens.
Another Ultimate Throw that is throw using the thumb and resembles the flight path of a hammer throw.
Is a type of foul. When holding the disc you cannot move (you’re allowed to slow down to a stop if caught while running). Traveling is similar to Basketball. You must establish a pivot foot in which you can swing your body back and forth on. If you throw righty you would usually plant your left foot to pivot on. A travel is when your pivot foot lifts off the ground before you throw the disc.
The first time I heard this word I severely over-analyzed the meaning. I thought it was the name of another team, a college, a secret play, a type of throw, I had not a single clue. Tourney is simply short for the word “tournament.”
A team has possession of the disc until there is a turnover. It is how it sounds, you turn it over to the other team. Players usually call it a “turn” for short. A turn is a result of a dropped or defended pass, a stall-out, an un-contested foul, or an out-of-bounds.
The last point of the game. Basically means that whichever teams scores the next point, we are going home. Mostly used in Pick-Up games.
Up ! ♦
A defensive or offensive player will call UP! when the disc has been thrown to let the entire team know a throw was made.
Vert Stack (vertical)
11th Edition Rules ♦
The Bible of Ultimate. This booklet contains EVERYTHING. It can be found on the Official USA Ultimate Page under 11th Edition Rules.
Did you find everything your looking for? Is there a vocabulary word missing? Don’t hesitate to message us, we will do the best we can to add something that deserves to be in the Ultimate Frisbee Dictionary!