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 background noise. You’re hardly aware of some situations when you focus on your defense or pass the disc to another player. Because of the Spirit Of The Game, communication is an essential part of Ultimate Frisbee. In many cases, 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! That’s why we’ve got hand signals to save the day and your Ultimate Frisbee match.

Hand signals are everywhere.

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 unspoken. Gestures make it easier to remember and understand certain things. It’s like a whole world of complexities, which hold a lot of meaning to uncover. Body language is an important part of our daily communication. For once, it provides us with information on ourselves and others. Furthermore, it gives us information about how others feel and helps us express emotions or intentions. It’s no wonder that body language may account for more than 60% of our communication.

Sports officiating and hand signals

It’s no wonder that body language and gestures are also important in sports. The chaotic environment makes it impossible to rely only on words. Hand signals make communication easy. It’s beneficial not only for the players or referees but also the spectators. As a result, the proceedings of the game and interruptions are easily translated. It’s a quick way to inform what’s going on during the game. As simple as that, it’s wordless communication between referees, players, commentators, and spectators.

While many sports have complicated rules, they also need referees. A sports referee needs to know all the rules and understand how to apply them to certain situations. In addition, they need to be confident and clear about the use of hand signals to communicate. As a result, the players need to know and understand gestures, which is why hand signals are a common sports language. They help them to wordlessly understand how to proceed. The spectators also don’t need to wonder what’s going on. They’re used in many sports, for example, football, volleyball, and basketball.

But in Ultimate Frisbee there’s a small catch with the hand signals…

In Ultimate Frisbee it’s a bit different. The sport is based on the Spirit of the Game, which ensures good sportsmanship. It differentiates Ultimate from other sports because there are no referees. As a player, you’re the closest to being a referee. While some tournaments may have a Game Observer, you’re responsible for understanding the rules and applying them correctly. Because of that, you need to know the hand signals, which are used in Ultimate Frisbee. There are 23 of them and they’ll help you in transcending the language barrier. As a result, they make situations clear and speed up the process of resolving the calls. Let’s face it. Most of the time people don’t hear when you make the call even though you might scream at the top of your lungs.

Moreover, it’s strongly encouraged by the organizers and players for the teams to educate their players. Whenever you make the call with hand signals, there’s a chance someone sees it and the game stops. For example, if a player makes a call and only names the call, the rest of the team might not be aware of the situation. The game goes on and the players involved in the call are either left there discussing or giving up on the call. Sometimes it might be something that directly affects the game. In that case, you should know the hand signals and their right usage.

What are the hand signals in Ultimate Frisbee?

WFDF prepared a set of hand signals, to make things easier during the game. The main task is to make it easy to understand for both players and the people watching the game what happened on the field. Whenever you watch the live streams or attend major Ultimate Frisbee events, you’ll easily spot the hand signals.

Just think about all those times when you were on the sidelines wondering what just happened. The hand signals make it clear straight away. But first, you need to know them. If you regularly attend or play at the tournaments, you may be familiar with the most popular hand signals in ultimate frisbee. And what if you’re a rookie player, but your team forgot to mention this important detail? I’d advise you to bookmark and watch this place! You never know when the knowledge of hand signals may come in handy!

Check out the updated version of WFDF Rules of Ultimate 2021-2024 – Hand Signals. Following the link, you can find the downloadable version. On the other hand, you might just hang out here and read on.

23 Hand Signals in Ultimate Frisbee

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 |Gender Ratio: Men | Gender Ratio: Women | Play has stopped | Match Point | Who Made The Call


signals in ultimate frisbee Foul

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?)



signals in ultimate frisbee - Violation

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



hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Goal

While indicating that there was a goal, raise both arms, fully extended, straight up with your palms facing inward.



signals in ultimate frisbee Contest

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


Uncontested (foul accepted)

signals in ultimate frisbee - Uncontested

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


Retracted/Play On

hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Retracted

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


In/Out-of-bounds – Out of end zone

signals in ultimate frisbee - In or Out of bounds

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


Disc down

hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Disc Down

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


Disc up

hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Disc up

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



hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Pick

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



hand signals in ultimate frisbee - travel

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


Marking Infraction

hand signals in ultimate frisbee - 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.



hand signals in ultimate frisbee - 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

hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Timing Violation Ultimate

Tap the top of your head with an open hand to indicate a timing violation (stall, violation).


Off side

hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Offside Ultimate

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



hand signals in ultimate frisbee - Time Out Ultimate

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


Spirit of the Game Stoppage

hand signals in ultimate frisbee - SOTG Stoppage

Form an upside-down “T” with your hands.



stoppage || source: wfdf hand signals

Clasp your hands and raise them above your head with your elbows bent. The stoppage may be technical or for an injury.


Gender ratio: Men

Gender ratio men hand signals in ultimate frisbee || Source: WFDF Hand Signals

Hands cupped behind your head with your elbows pointing to the outside.


Gender ratio: Women

gender ratio women in ultimate frisbee || source: wfdf hand signals

Extend your arms to the side. Hands should be closed in a fist.


Play has stopped

Play stopped Ultimate

Extend both arms crosswise overhead and wave them both.


Match Point

Match Point Ultimate

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


Who made the call

Who Made The Call

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 in Ultimate Frisbee, which you should keep in mind! Did you know them all? Perhaps you might not need them all in all of your games. However, by knowing them you can be sure that no call will be overlooked. It’s also very important that your new players are aware of the hand signals in Ultimate Frisbee. As the tournament directors and federations put more emphasis on the right Spirit usage, you may expect that this topic will come back to you many times. So, happy hand signal studying, and see you at the field!

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