Hand Signals In Ultimate Frisbee

When the game starts it’s easy to lose yourself in it. All the surrounding sounds, people, and situations blur into a background noise. You’re hardly aware of some situations that take place when you focus on your defense or passing the disc to another player. Communication is an essential part of Ultimate Frisbee and in many cases, the verbal communication isn’t always enough. Sometimes it’s hard to pierce the noise when you need to make the call. Luckily, there’s non-verbal communication!

Sports officiating and hand signals

The non-verbal communication is important in daily life. Body language tells what isn’t said and helps to emphasize the words. It’s like reading between the lines and uncovering what remains unsaid. Gestures make it easier to remember and understand certain things.

It’s no wonder that they’re also important in sports. The chaotic environment makes it impossible to rely only on words. It’s beneficial not only for the players or referees but also for the spectators. A sports referee needs to know the rules and understands how to apply them to certain situations. In addition, they need to be confident about the use of clear and confident hand signals to communicate. The players need to know and understand those signals. They’re used in many sports, like football, volleyball or basketball. The hand signals help the players to better understand how to proceed. The spectators also don’t need to wonder what’s going on.

In Ultimate Frisbee it’s a bit different. You’re the referee. You’re responsible for understanding the rules and applying them correctly. That’s why you also need to know the hand signals! There are 21 of them and they will help you in transcending the language barrier and make situations clear. Let’s face it. Most of the time people don’t hear you make the call even though you might scream at the top of your lungs.

Hand signals in Ultimate Frisbee

 To make things easier, WFDF prepared a set of hand signals. They make it easier for the players and the people watching the game to understand what kind of call happened on the field.You’ll see them at all the big Ultimate Frisbee events.

Just think about all those times when you were on the sidelines wondering what just happened. The hand signals make it clear straight away. If you know them. You may know most of these if you regularly attend or play the matches. You may use it yourself. Rookie players – watch this one. You’ll need them!

Check out the updated version  – WFDF Hand Signals for Ultimate 2017.

Foul | Violation| GoalContest | Uncontested| Retracted | In/Out-Of-Bounds | Disc Down | Disc Up | Pick | Travel | Marking Infraction | Turnover | Timing Violation | OffsideTime-Out | Spirit Of The Game Stoppage | Stoppage |4 Men, 3 Women | 3 Men, 4 Women | Play has stopped | Match Point | Who Made The Call


Foul Ultimate


Whenever there’s a foul, the players should indicate it by holding one arm straight out and “chop” the other forearm across the straight arm. (Luckily, not literally, right?)




Violation Ultimate


To make a call for “Violation”, raise both hands above your head with your fists closed forming a “V”.





Goal Ultimate



Raise both arms, fully extended, straight up with your palms facing inward.





Contest Ultimate


Bump two fists together in front of your chest with the back of your hands facing outwards.





Uncontested Ultimate


Extend your forearms in front of your body, elbows tight against the torso and palms facing upwards.



Retracted/Play On

Retracted Ultimate


Extend both arms down in front of your body and make a sweeping crossover motion.




In/Out-of-bounds – Out of end zone

InOutofbounds Ultimate


Point with one arm extended, flat palm, thumb parallel to fingers. Towards playing field means “in” and away from playing field means “out”.



Disc down

Disc Down


Point down at 45 degrees with your arm and index finger straight.




Disc up

Disc up


Put your elbow down, forearm in a vertical position and point your index finger upward.





Pick Ultimate


Raise your arms with bent elbows and fists facing your head.






Rotate your wrists around in a vertical circle with your fists closed.




Marking Infraction

Marking Infraction Ultimate

Extend your arms to the side, palms facing front.

Marking infractions count as fast count, straddle, disc space, wrapping, double team, and vision.




Turnover Ultimate


Extend your right arm in front of your body with your palm facing up and then rotate to palm facing down.



Timing Violation

Timing Violation Ultimate


Tap the top of your head with an open hand to indicate timing violation.




Off side

Offside Ultimate


Cross your arms overhead in an “X” and your hands closed in a fist.






Time Out Ultimate


Form a “T” with your hands, or a hand and the disc.




Spirit of the Game Stoppage

SOTG Stoppage


Form an upside down “T” with your hands.







Cup your hands cupped behind your head with your elbows out to the side. The stoppage may be technical or for an injury.



4 men, 3 women

4M3W Ultimate



Raise your arms straight above your head with your palms together.




3 men, 4 women

3M4W Ultimate



Clasp your hands and raise them above your head with your arms bent.



Play has stopped

Play stopped Ultimate



Extend both arms crosswise overhead and wave them both.




Match Point

MatchPoint Ultimate



Point both arms straight up to the left with your palms facing down.



Who made the call

WhoMadeTheCall Ultimate


Called by Offence/Defence

Point with two arms straight out, towards the end zone being defended by the team.




That’s all 23 hand signals for Ultimate. Did you know them all? Anything surprising?

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