Types of Ultimate Frisbee Tournaments

The greatest advantage of Ultimate Frisbee is the possibility of playing it almost anywhere. Same goes for tournaments. You can play them all year round!

While some sports tend to be seasonal, you can play Ultimate all year. That’s right. You don’t need to go into winter slumber mode. There’s no need to search for an alternative for your hobby just because it’s winter. Of course, that leaves you with perhaps… 2 months with no tournaments. Where to fit the vacation into this small time slot?! How to explain to your family and friends why you can’t miss another training or tournament? Well, that’s a topic for a whole new post! Let’s see what kind of tournaments you can expect once you start playing Ultimate.

indoor ultimate frisbeesource: Ultimatum Gdańsk


These are popular in Europe. The tournaments take place on varying surfaces: from synthetic grass to wooden gym floor. The size of the playing field also varies depending on the size of the gym.

Indoor Ultimate is different from outdoor. The stall count is just 8 seconds. The games last from 20 to 35 minutes (it’s up to the tournament organisers). The number of players on the field is another thing that distinguishes indoor tournaments. There are just 5 players. For mixed, it means that there’s just at least 2 girls playing at any time.

For me, the indoor season was the first Ultimate experience. When I was starting out it seemed so exhausting (I could hardly last one point on the field. Let’s not talk about defence.). I was glad the field was not that big. Not much running. What so difficult about this game anyway?  Everything.

The advantage of indoor is that you can learn to throw. These few months you can perfect some of the throws before going outside. There’s no wind – it’s both an advantage and a disadvantage.

The biggest disadvantage of indoor ultimate is that there’s not as much space to play. The game is faster, more dynamic, but also shorter.


Outdoor has to be the greatest season. That’s true Ultimate! It’s the purest joy. So much more running. In this case, we’ve got two types of tournaments: grass and beach.

ultimatum gdańsk

Grass Tournaments

Ultimate Frisbee played on grass (duh!). Sometimes the games can take place on astroturf or synthetic grass. In each case, you’ll need special shoes – trainers, football boots with studs.

There’re 7 players on the field playing at all times. While playing mixed, that’s at least 3 girls from both teams on the field during the game. The games can last between 75 to 100 minutes or to a point limits of 13 or 17 points. The stall count is 10 seconds.

According to WFDF, a regulation field is 100 by 37 metres. Each end zone is 18 metres deep. For USA Ultimate  110 m (120 yards) by 37 m ( 40 yards ), with end zones 23 m ( 25 yards) deep.  There’re also MLU games (sadly, MLU has suspended their operations). They take place on a football field, which is 120 yards long, 53.3 yards wide, with 20-yard end zones.

Beach Tournaments

It has to be the most difficult and challenging type of a tournament. Beach Ultimate demands the same level of fitness as on grass surfaces, but it’s far more difficult to run and jump in the sand. Even though the field is smaller, it’s not as easy as it seems. The game requires 5 on 5 players with 2 girls (in mixed) playing at all times. The stall count is 10 seconds, as in outdoors.

WFDF recognises Beach Ultimate as a separate disc sport. There’s quite a lot of beach tournaments, including World Championships of Beach Ultimate.  On 18 -24 June 2017, the national teams from around the world will compete against each other. The Championships will take place on the beaches of Royan, France.

What are outdoor challenges? The weather conditions. For new players, it might be challenging at first to throw in the wind. Also, outdoor has to be the time when you make the greatest progress. The players need to be fast and endure long points. Sometimes there are points with lots of turnovers. You can’t switch with another player unless there’s an injury or a time-out.

My worst long point was during the Beach Ultimate Championships that my team hosted. The point was around 15 minutes long in a strong wind. It was like a never ending game.

In the end, it doesn’t even matter if the wind is strong, it’s too hot or it rains – you have to play the game. What’s not to love?

Hat Tournaments

These tournaments are quite common for Ultimate world. Players join rather individually than as a team. The tournament organisers form the teams based on: skill, experience, fitness level, etc. The players submit the needed information while signing up for the tournament. Usually, the teams are evenly matched.

Hat tournaments are great for meeting other players, partying and socialising.  Perhaps that’s why I attended only one such event. ? Anyone can take part in this: from experienced players to complete beginners.

On US West Coast many tournaments have a “Hat Rule”. It requires all players to wear a hat during the game. If a player gains possession of the disc but loses his hat in the process, it’s considered a turnover. The possession of the disc reverts to the other team.

Ultimate Frisbee tournaments are simply amazing. With so many options to play the game throughout the year, there’s almost no time left to be bored. My favourite tournaments are during the outdoor season. What’s yours? ?

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