2021 Club Division

Competition Guidelines

COVID-19 Implications

COMPETITION GUIDELINES

Overview & Updates

Triple Crown Tour

International Events – Qualifications and Eligibility


COVID-19 Implications

USA Ultimate Statement

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021, USA Ultimate activities and programs for the year will be evaluated and planned with the health and safety of our members and the broader community as the top priority. In collaboration with its Medical Advisory Working Group, along with guidance from other medical experts, public health officials and sports organizations, USA Ultimate will work during 2021 to provide opportunities for safe and healthy ultimate and ultimate-related activities that are in line with its Return to Play Guidelines and all applicable state and local health and safety regulations.

Guidelines for programs and events will be developed and published with the goal of clear communication and transparency, as well as an understanding of the need to plan far enough ahead to create viable opportunities while remaining flexible to allow for necessary adjustments to the structure and/or timing of activities. USA Ultimate’s goal is to offer safe opportunities to play that continue to build on the high-quality events and programs the community has come to expect, and to tailor these programs to fit the evolving health and safety situation over the course of the year.

TCT Contingency Plans

In line with the Return to Play Guidelines, the TCT season will ramp up as it is safe to do so nationwide, with a focus on local match play and smaller local tournaments to begin the season. The principles guiding any contingency plans are as follows:

  • No team, regardless of flight or ranking, will be required to attend any regular season events.
  • Without required events, there will be no byes to regionals. All teams participating in the series will be required to begin at sectionals.
  • To allow teams flexibility for when and how they return to play, there will be no rankings.
  • Since there will be no rankings, there will be more flexibility for team rosters throughout the regular season.

Due to the uncertainties of when we can start the season and other COVID-19 related challenges such as reserving fields, we are unable to operate under a “business as usual” mindset. The behind-the-scenes work to set tournament locations and start to fill events, as well as the work teams have to do to plan a season, would typically be well underway by now, and therefore we have moved to our contingency plans. To provide some transparency and clarity on the contingency plans and how the previously disclosed guiding principles will affect tournaments and events, below are the phases that we will consider to safely plan for the summer:

Contingency Plan A:

  • Sanctioned regular season events may start in June. Championship Series will occur as planned.
    • Events in June should focus on local play and have COVID-19 precautions using the Official Return to Play Guidelines for reference.
    • Major TCT events would begin in July.
    • Communication Timeline: National Directors will start inviting teams in April.

Contingency Plan B:

  • Sanctioned regular season events may start in July. Championship Series will occur as planned.
    • Events in July should focus on local play and have COVID-19 precautions using the Official Return to Play Guidelines for reference.
    • Major TCT events will occur as deemed safe, with decisions for each event being made no later than six (6) weeks prior to the start of the tournament.
    • Communication Timeline: May 21

Contingency Plan C:

  • Sanctioned regular season events may start in August. Championship Series will occur as planned.
    • Events in August should focus on local play and have COVID-19 precautions using the Official Return to Play Guidelines for reference.
    • The August Major TCT events will occur as deemed safe, with decisions for each event being made no later than six (6) weeks prior to the start of the tournament.
      • These events may see an expanded invitation list.
    • Communication Timeline: June 19

Contingency Plan D:

  • No regular season, but the Championship Series will occur as planned.
    • Communication Timeline: July 31

TCT Competition Guidelines

Overview & Updates

This document defines the guidelines and regulations for the USA Ultimate Club Season. These guidelines cover the USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour (TCT), including Regular Season and Postseason competition. 

The dates, registration and tournament rules/definitions of the TCT in this document supersede any other information. 

Since the 2020 season was canceled, the changes from 2019 to 2020 have been rolled over to these guidelines. Those are as follows:

  • Event Roster maximum has been changed from 27 to 26 for all regular season and postseason events.
  • Gender minimums for any event roster have been changed from a minimum of four man-matching players and four woman-matching players to five man-matching players and five woman-matching players.
  • The U.S. Open will utilize, for mixed teams, WFDF’s Rule A for on-field personnel ratios.
  • Examples of appropriate and unacceptable jerseys have been added for further clarity.
  • Updated to reflect the new “2020-2021 Official Rules of Ultimate” which will be used for all USA Ultimate competition. This applies to all USA Ultimate-owned and sanctioned events. The new rules are available at usaultimate.org/rules in HTML and PDF formats, along with supporting documentation highlighting and explaining the changes from the 11th Edition.

Additionally, there are many changes for the 2021 season. Please read through this year’s guidelines in their entirety to ensure you are aware of the changes that are specific to the 2021 season.

I. Glossary

  • Triple Crown Tour (TCT) – The TCT encompasses both the Regular Season and the Postseason for USA Ultimate club teams. The TCT includes Major TCT (mTCT) events run by USA Ultimate, and any event which is a Sanctioned Regular Season or Postseason event. Winning the Triple Crown refers to winning the U.S. Open Club Championships, the Pro Championships and the National Championships.  
  • Regular Season – All official Sanctioned Regular Season events or match-play games that occur between the first weekend in June and last weekend in August, with the addition of Labor Day weekend for teams attending the Pro Championship. 
  • Regular Season Rankings – Regular season games will be factored into the USA Ultimate Regular Season rankings algorithm. Rankings are published weekly starting the last Wednesday in July, with Final Regular Season Rankings posted at the end of the Regular Season. 
  • Postseason Championship Series – The national tournament following the regular season comprises geographic-based qualifying events (Sectionals, Regionals) and concludes at the National Championships. Also referred to as the “Postseason” and “Championship Series” 
  • National Championships – The third leg of the Triple Crown Tour and the culminating event of the postseason and the TCT, where the USA Ultimate National Championship winning teams are crowned in the men’s, mixed and women’s divisions. Also referred to as “Nationals.” 
  • Major TCT (mTCT) Event – The following tournaments are considered Major TCT Events: Pro-Elite Challenge, Select Flight Invite-West, Select Flight Invite-East, U.S. Open Club Championships, Elite-Select Challenge and Pro Championships.
  • Bid Allocation – Each section is awarded a specific number of bids to their respective regional tournaments. Additionally, each region is awarded a specific number of bids to the national tournament. These are both referred to as bid allocations.
  • Pro Flight – Top eight teams (1st through 8th) based on performance at the prior year’s National Championships. 
  • Elite Flight – Next eight teams below the Pro Flight (9th through 16th), based on performance at the prior year’s National Championships. 
  • Select Flight – 32 teams. Next highest finishing four teams in each geographic region, after Pro and Elite teams, based on performance in the prior year’s Regional Championships. 
    1. Top Select teams are Select Flight teams that were the highest finishing Select team from each region (eight total) from the prior year’s Regional Championships. The Top Select team is the team that lost the “game-to-go” to Nationals. 
  • Classic Flight – All other teams participating in the Regular Season or Postseason of the TCT.

II. Spirit of the Game (SOTG)

  • Spirit of the Game is a set of principles which places the responsibility for fair play on the player. Highly competitive play is encouraged, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules or the basic joy of play. 
  • All players are responsible for knowing, administering and adhering to the rules. The integrity of ultimate depends on each player’s responsibility to uphold the Spirit of the Game, and this responsibility should remain paramount. 
  • It is assumed that no player will intentionally violate the rules; thus there are no harsh penalties for inadvertent infractions, but rather a method for resuming play in a manner that simulates what most likely would have occurred absent the infraction. An intentional infraction is cheating and considered a gross offense against the Spirit of the Game. Players are morally bound to abide by the rules and not gain advantage by knowingly committing an infraction, or calling one where none exists.
  • For more information on Spirit of the Game, click here.

III. Competition Authority

  • Major TCT Events
    • Event formats, game rules, seeding and the use of Observers will be determined by USA Ultimate.
  • All other Sanctioned Regular Season Events
    • Event formats, game rules, seeding and the use of Observers are all at the discretion of the regular season event organizers, provided they meet event guidelines outlined in the USA Ultimate sanctioned-event agreement and in these guidelines as specified below. 
  • Postseason
    • All aspects of competition will be determined by USA Ultimate, including but not limited to, registration, eligibility, event formats, game rules, seeding and the use of Observers.

IV. Definition of a Team

With the extra flexibility given to teams for the 2021 season as outlined above in the contingency plan principles, USA Ultimate will focus the definition of a team based on the roster composition for the postseason championship series. 

These teams will be defined as follows:

  • A team will be defined primarily by its name and home location (city, state).
  • For consistency between seasons, USAU encourages teams to retain their team name, location, branding, etc. if they have at least seven (7) returning players from the 2019 season.
    • If two teams have seven (7) or more returning players from the same team that participated in the 2019 season, the team with more returning players will have priority in retaining the team name, branding, etc.

Name/Logo/Uniform Guidelines

  • USA Ultimate reserves the right, at any time, to prohibit, alter or require a team to alter a team name, player or coach nickname, team logo, jersey graphic, sponsor name/graphic or uniform, and/or suggest alternatives – at or in conjunction with a USA Ultimate program or event – should USA Ultimate personnel determine that the existing name, logo, graphic or uniform is in conflict with or might hinder the mission of the organization or the goals of a specific USA Ultimate program or event.
  • This includes, but is not limited to, sexual references, profanity, drug references and any discriminatory language or graphics. Alterations must be approved by USA Ultimate.

Uniform Requirements (Players)

  • For all USA Ultimate run events (mTCT, Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals), all participating players for a given team must wear jerseys of identical color and design.
    • Tank tops, short sleeve jerseys and long sleeve jerseys may all be worn during the same game as long as styling is consistent between all options.
    • Base layers must be black, white or a matching color to the jersey.
  • Teams must have two jerseys of distinctly different color, one predominantly white and one predominantly dark. A jersey that is not white does not automatically qualify as a dark. Any color that may be described as light does not qualify as a dark jersey (e.g., yellow, pink, light blue, etc.).
  • Jerseys must have numbers on the back and front of the jersey. The numbers on the back must be at least six (6) inches high, be one or two digit Arabic numerals, be solid and in clear contrast with the jersey. Numbers on the front of the jersey must be at least four (4) inches high, be located above the waist and clearly visible if tucked in. The front of the jersey is anything on the chest or abdomen; numbers on the front of the sleeves do not fulfill this requirement. No two players on a given team may use the same number or numbers with the same value (e.g., 00 and 0, 01 and 1, etc.).
  • Uniform bottoms (shorts) worn by players on the field must be of identical color and design. Teams are not required to have numbers on their uniform bottoms. However, if teams opt to include numbers, they must be on the front left or right leg of their shorts. Number placement must be the same for the whole team. The numbers must be at least two (2) inches high, match the number on the back of their jersey and be in visible contrast with the jersey. Pants and skirts are not allowed as part of the on-field uniform without the pre-approval of USA Ultimate.
  • Uniform accessories, including tights, undershirts, compression sleeves and hats, must be either solid black or coordinated with one team uniform color. Socks that are mid-calf or lower must be black, white or coordinating with one team color. Socks that sit above mid-calf must abide by the tights requirement.
  • USA Ultimate reserves the right to suspend players or fine teams who fail to meet the uniform requirements. For more information please review the USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour Guidelines section entitled “Violations and Sanctions.”
  • For broadcast games, USA Ultimate reserves the right to increase requirements to comply with broadcast partner standards and requirements. In light of this potential, it is recommended that teams and players prepare for the possibility of additional requirements, such as hats, socks and under-layers, that match across all players.
  • Examples of style decisions to avoid:
  • Examples of style acceptable jerseys:

Uniform Requirements (Coaches)

  • For all USA Ultimate run events (mTCT, Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals) all coaches must wear either a uniform of identical color and design as the team, or professional coaching attire as defined below.
  • Professional coaching attire is defined as any combination of the following:
    • The team jersey or a sleeved shirt/polo is matching the team uniform colors.
    • Team shorts/skirt or hemmed slacks/shorts/skirt are of an appropriate solid color.
    • Business casual attire.
    • Closed toe shoes such as cleats, flats or athletic shoes. Flip flops, open toed sandals and bare feet are not considered professional coaching attire.
  • Coach jerseys and shorts are not subject to the number requirements for players.  
  • It is recommended that uniform accessories, including weather-related gear, tights, undershirts, hats and socks, be of identical or coordinated style and color.
  • USA Ultimate reserves the right to remove from the sideline and/or fine coaches who fail to meet the uniform requirements.

V. Coaching

Coaching Membership vs Certification

  • To coach any club team at a sanctioned USA Ultimate event, coaches must have a current USAU coaching membership. More information on what it takes to become a coach member can be found here.
  • In addition to a coaching membership, coaches are encouraged to receive a coaching certification specific to the level they plan to coach. There is a college/club certification for this level. For more information on certifications, click here.

Coaching Sideline Access Policy

  • During games at TCT events where field access is restricted (US Open, Nationals), sideline access will only be granted to players, USA Ultimate Coach Members that are designated by the team, USA Ultimate event staff and credentialed media*.
    • *Media must contact the USA Ultimate media manager for credentials and event media waivers.
  • All other non-player support staff with player-level or limited field access, including coaches, must read, sign and agree to abide by the USA Ultimate Coaching Code of Ethics and Spirit of Coaching Statement.
  • The limit on the number of coaches and team support personnel, all of whom must comply with the above policy, is as follows:
    • Coaches (5) – may have player-level access to sidelines/field
      • Coaches must be listed on the team’s online event roster prior to the event in order to have sideline access, which means coaches must have an active coach-level USA Ultimate membership.**
      • **Teams must ensure that their coach is a Coach Member of USA Ultimate, including completing the SafeSport training and obtaining a “Green Light” on a NCSI Background check. Background checks take an average of 10 business days to complete and can be started on the coach’s USAU membership dashboard once they login. Coaches who have lived outside of the United States in the last five (5) years should expect a longer turnaround time and a higher cost for their background checks.
    • Team Support (2) – must remain in team tent/bench area during points

VI. Observers

  • All use of Observers will be subject to the guidelines and practices of the USA Ultimate Observer Program.
  • Only USA Ultimate Certified Observers are permitted to officiate at USA Ultimate sanctioned events, including Sanctioned Regular Season Events and the Postseason Championship Series.
  • Sanctioned Regular Season Events must be played in accordance with the guidelines for USA Ultimate sanctioned events. Experimental changes in officiating responsibilities (i.e., those outside of the current edition of the USA Ultimate Observer Manual) may be permitted, but must be communicated in detail during the sanctioning application process and must be pre-approved by USA Ultimate.
  • If observers are used during the postseason, their duties must be in line with those described in the USA Ultimate Observer Manual. Any changes to these duties must be pre-approved by the Competition Working Group. Any experimental changes authorized by USA Ultimate for use during the postseason will be outlined in this section of the guidelines and communicated to team and event organizers prior to the start of the regular season.

VII. Violations and Sanctions

  • Failure to abide by any of the Triple Crown Tour guidelines may result in sanctions through the USA Ultimate conduct process. Such sanctions may be imposed on a team or individuals associated with a team deemed to be in violation of the guidelines and may include, but are not limited to, suspension or disqualification from USA Ultimate competition.
  • Disqualification may include not only elimination of the team from the current season, but also limitations on participation of players during the remainder of current season, and limitation on participation of the team (and its players) in subsequent seasons.
  • In order to help teams follow Triple Crown Tour guidelines and avoid violations, USA Ultimate will continue to work to improve registration procedures and communication of information pertaining to the USA Ultimate Triple Crown Tour. As these improvements are made by the organization, teams will continue to be held more fully responsible for following procedures and understanding information.
  • Because consistency in holding all participants to the same administrative and competitive standards is vital to the integrity of the TCT, because many violations lead to unfair advantages in competition, and because it is often difficult to determine intent, guideline violations will result in serious repercussions. Such repercussions will provide an incentive for players and teams to understand the guidelines fully, follow the guidelines carefully and avoid intended or unintended violations in the future.

Triple Crown Tour

I. Overview

  • The Triple Crown Tour (TCT) for USA Ultimate’s club men’s, mixed and women’s divisions has existed since 2013. TCT teams are normally divided into four (4) flights based on their performance in the previous year’s TCT. With the cancelation of 2020 and the uncertainty of 2021, all flight requirements have been waived, but Major TCT event invitations will be based on the 2019 season placements and rankings. Teams at all levels are encouraged to participate in the TCT’s regular season and postseason.
  • The TCT regular season typically runs from June through August with the Postseason Championship Series starting in September with local sectional tournaments. Teams advance from sectionals to regionals, and then from regionals to nationals where a champion in each division is crowned. Registration for the Postseason Championship Series will be open to any teams that want to compete.

II. Regular Season

Timeline

  • The TCT Regular Season is scheduled to run from June 5, 2021 through August 29, 2021. These dates may be pushed and/or the season may be truncated for safety purposes in response to the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Any changes to this timeline will be communicated via official USAU channels, and these guidelines will be updated.

Registration

Rules

  • 2021 Rules
    • All USA Ultimate sanctioned events must use the “2020-2021 Official Rules of Ultimate” which are available at usaultimate.org/rules in HTML and PDF formats along with supporting documentation highlighting and explaining the changes from the 11th Edition.
  • Game Length Minimums
    • All games at sanctioned USA Ultimate events must meet the minimum point and time-based requirements (each game must have been initially set to be, at minimum, to 11 points and 60 minutes in length).
    • NEVER report an inaccurate score. Doing so will result in game disqualifications and other appropriate sanctions.
      1. If a game is a forfeiture, do NOT put the score in as 13-0 or 15-0. You must inform the TD and report a W/F on the USA Ultimate reporting app.
      2. As a general rule, USA Ultimate prohibits the forfeiting of scheduled games during the regular season. Please see the Forfeit Rule section below for more information.
    • Games under the aforementioned minimums are subject to USA Ultimate and Competition Working Group review.
    • Requests to shorten any game must be approved by the event manager/TD and should still meet the minimum requirements mentioned above.
  • Forfeit Rule
    • As a general rule, USA Ultimate prohibits the forfeiting of scheduled games during the regular season. Teams are expected to play out their entire schedule of games at events they have chosen to enter. The competition format of an event and the season as a whole rely on scheduled games being played. All teams entering an event should expect that their opponents will play their scheduled games. These rules apply regardless of the caliber of the opponent or the stage of the competition in which a game is scheduled.
    • Any team that declines to finish a scheduled game or games, or attempts to decide a match by any manner other than playing ultimate on the field, will forfeit those games. Should both teams in a match choose not to play, then it will be considered a double forfeit.
    • If one team is not ready to play at game-time, points may be assessed at a rate of one (1) point per five (5) minutes. Under these conditions, if the score of the game reaches 8-0, the team that has failed to signal readiness will technically forfeit the game.
    • A team will be considered to have forfeited any game where the number of players that can safely participate falls below the minimum requirement set by the competition minimums above.
    • Reporting false scores will be treated with significant sanctions. If a game is forfeited, teams must report the forfeiture. If a game is not finished, scores and game length are to be reported as they are. Teams may not manipulate the final score to reach the game minimum. Violating this rule will incur sanctions for both teams involved. See “Sanctions” below for more information.
    • EXCEPTIONS
      1. The safety of athletes is a top priority and must be considered when determining whether a game should be played and under what conditions.
      2. Consideration should be given if a team misses the first game of the first day because of travel problems.
      3. Tournament formats and event schedules must fall within the guidelines set forth for sanctioned events, and must be published two (2) business days prior to the event.
      4. Games that are the last of an event for both teams may be forfeited, provided the tournament director and both teams are in agreement.
    • SANCTIONS
      1. USA Ultimate reserves the right to sanction teams that forfeit games during the regular season.
      2. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, disqualification from the regular season and/or series, rankings and/or bid allocation penalties, team and/or player/coach suspensions, financial penalties and team and/or member conduct hearings. Game forfeits will be dealt with on a case by case basis, taking into account all pertinent facts and perspectives.

Eligibility

  • Teams participating in any sanctioned regular season event or game must do so only with players who are on the team’s season roster AND event roster for that event or game.
  • Season Roster Changes
    • For the 2021 season only, players will be allowed to change rosters to participate with any team during the regular season. However, they may only be listed on one championship series (postseason) event roster.
  • Gender Division Eligibility
    • In their USA Ultimate membership account, every athlete should select the gender identity option that best aligns with their gender identity. When registering for a USA Ultimate sanctioned or championship series event, athletes should select to participate in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe based on their indicated gender identity.
      1. Players who select Man/Boy as their gender identity option are eligible to compete in men’s divisions or as a man-matching player in mixed divisions.
      2. Players who select Woman/Girl as their gender identity option are eligible to compete in men’s or women’s divisions, or as a woman-matching player in mixed divisions.
      3. Players who select the Non-Binary or Prefer to Self-Report gender identity option are eligible to compete in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe, as per USA Ultimate’s Gender Inclusion Policy (approved 11.2020).

        Note: For those who select Prefer to Self-Report, there will be a fill-in option to provide any additional information regarding your gender identity. This is for internal educational purposes only and will not be shared.
    • On-field personnel ratio rules for the mixed division are described in the Mixed Division On-field Personnel Ratio section of the Competition Guidelines.
    • For more information about USA Ultimate’s Gender Inclusion Policy, click here.
    • Teams that are found to have violated the letter or spirit of these rules or whose behavior undermines the competition structure (e.g. misrepresenting the composition of a team at a specific event, misrepresenting the composition of a team over the course of the season, intentionally playing with ineligible players) will be subject to ramifications as outlined in “Violations and Sanctions.” Roster violations should be reported to the Manager of Competition and National Team Programs at carolina@hq.usaultimate.org.
  • Mixed Division On-Field Personnel Ratio
    • The personnel ratio for the mixed division of the Triple Crown Tour regular season and postseason will be 4/3 (four man-matching and three woman-matching or four woman-matching and three man-matching).
    • Similar to the Gender Division Eligibility guidelines above, USA Ultimate will not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, regardless of sex assigned at birth, or any other form of gender expression for whether an athlete matches up against a woman-matching or man-matching player of the opposing team during any given point.
    • We affirm that people of all gender identities should have the freedom to participate in USA Ultimate sanctioned or championship series events in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe based on their gender identity and should be recognized, respected and included at every level of the sport.
    • For more information about USA Ultimate’s Gender Inclusion Policy, click here.
    • Teams that are found to have violated the letter or spirit of these rules or whose behavior undermines the competition structure (e.g. misrepresenting the composition of a team at a specific event, misrepresenting the composition of a team over the course of the season, intentionally playing with ineligible players) will be subject to ramifications as outlined in “Violations and Sanctions.” Roster violations should be reported to the Manager of Competition and National Team Programs at carolina@hq.usaultimate.org.
    • DETERMINIG THE RATIO
      1. With the exception of games at the US Open, at the start of each game after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting which end zone is the “genzone.” At the start of each point, the team that is at the genzone must choose the gender ratio. This process applies for the entire game (the “Genzone Decides Rule”).
      2. Games played at the US Open will also have an additional disc flip after the initial flip, where the winner will decide the personnel ratio for the first point. For the second and third points the ratio must be the reverse of the first point. For the fourth and fifth points the ratio must be the same as the first point. This pattern of alternating the ratio every two points repeats until the end of the game (half time has no impact on the pattern). This is in line with WFDF’s Rule A, also known as the “prescribed ratio” rule described in the official WFDF Rules of Ultimate 2021-2024 – APPENDIX v1.0.
      3. If a team cannot match the on-field personnel ratio of all seven players on the team determining the personnel ratio for the point, then it must play with fewer than seven players, matching the personnel ratio with as many players as possible.
      4. Injury Timeouts – In the event of an injury timeout where a player leaves the field, the replacing player must maintain the same personnel ratio as was with the injured player. If a team replaces players, the opposing team has the option of substituting a like number of, or fewer players.
        • The replacing player(s) must maintain the same personnel ratio as was with the player(s) they replace.
        • If a team calls an injury timeout but does not have a replacement player to maintain the same personnel ratio as was with the injured player, it may not replace that player and must play fewer than seven players.
  • Roster Maximums and Minimums
    • Maximums
      1. For the 2021 regular season only, no teams will have a cap on the number of players that can be on their season roster.
    • Minimums
      1. Pro-Elite Challenge (PEC) / U.S. Open / Elite-Select Challenge / Pro Championship
        • Men’s
          1. All teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 20 players.
        • Mixed
          1. All teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 20 players; with a minimum of six (6) woman-matching and six (6) man-matching players.
        • Women’s
          1. Pro and Elite Flight teams – must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 18 players.
          2. Select and Classic Flight teams – must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 16 players.
      2. Select Flight Invite (SFI) – East and West
        • Men’s
          1. Pro/Elite/Top Select teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 20 players.
          2. Select/Classic teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 10 players.
        • Mixed
          1. Pro/Elite/Top Select teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 20 players; with a minimum of six (6) woman-matching and six (6) man-matching players.
          2. Select/Classic teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 10 players; with a minimum of four (4) woman-matching and four (4) man-matching players.
        • Women’s
          1. Pro and Elite Flight teams – must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 18 players.
          2. Top Select teams – must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 16 players.
          3. Select and Classic Flight teams – must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 10 players.
      3. All Other Events
        • Men’s
          1. All teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 10 players.
        • Mixed
          1. All teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 10 players; with a minimum of five (5) woman-matching players and five (5) man-matching players players.
        • Women’s
          1. All teams – Must roster and dress (on site) a minimum of 10 players.
    • Sanctions
      1. Minimum roster number violations – USA Ultimate reserves the right to sanction teams that fail to meet the roster minimums for designated TCT events. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, disqualification from the regular season and/or postseason, ranking and/or bid allocation penalties, forfeiture of game results, team and/or player/coach suspensions, forfeiture of bye to regionals, lowering of postseason series roster cap, financial penalties and team and/or player conduct hearings.
      2. Minimum roster number violations will be dealt with on a case by case basis, taking into account all pertinent facts and perspectives.
    • Exceptions
      1. The goal of the roster minimum requirements is to ensure the safety of all athletes participating throughout the regular season. Exceptions to roster minimums may be considered for special circumstances. Please contact carolina@hq.usaultimate.org by at least four (4) weeks prior to the event roster deadline to request an exception to the roster minimum requirements.

Events

  • Pro, Elite and Select Flight Events
    • USA Ultimate will work with local organizers to put on tournament events for teams in the Pro, Elite and Select flights throughout the regular season.
    • These events are referred to as Major TCT events (mTCT) and are invitation only.
    • Rules, seeding, formats and guidelines for these events will be set by USAU.
  • All Other Sanctioned Regular Season Events
    • USA Ultimate-sanctioned event organizers will be required to do the following:
      1. Submit or verify the results of games through the USA Ultimate’s online score reporting system.
      2. Comply with all requirements for USA Ultimate-sanctioned event organizers outlined in the USA Ultimate Tournament Director’s Certification Program and the sanctioned event agreement.
    • USA Ultimate will be progressively increasing the minimum standards which tournaments/events will be required to meet to receive sanctioning approval.
    • USA Ultimate will not sanction an event if it believes that the event or event organizer is not aligned with the best interests of the sport, the Triple Crown Tour, other USA Ultimate programs or the mission and policies of USA Ultimate.
  • Sanctioned Match Play
    • Individual games may be sanctioned at the discretion of USA Ultimate in order to provide flexibility for teams in planning their seasons and scheduling playing opportunities.
    • Match play sanctioning may require earlier sanctioning application deadlines, will be subject to the review of USA Ultimate staff and may require additional oversight and/or structure to ensure the integrity of the competition.
    • Click here for more information on event sanctioning.
  • Prize Money
    • Prize money will be awarded in recognition of competitive excellence and in order to help offset some costs for teams that are invested in and committed to the TCT season.
    • For each division, prize money will be awarded to each of the following at mTCT events:
      1. Pro-Elite Challenge – $750 (1st place)
      2. U.S. Open Club Championships – $2,000 (1st place) and $1,000 (2nd place) 
      3. Elite-Select Challenge – $500 (1st place) 
      4. Pro Championships – $1,500 (1st place) and $500 (2nd place) 
      5. National Championship – $2,000 (1st place) and $1,000 (2nd place) 
      6. Triple Crown (wins U.S. Open Club Championships, Pro Championships and Nationals) – $2,000
    • Any prizes at non-mTCT regular season events are at the sole discretion of the Tournament Director.
  • Team Invitations
    • Invitations to mTCT events will be decided based on the 2019 final standings and rankings. Flexibility on invitations may be afforded to the National Directors and Local Organizing Committees as needed if there are vacancies within four (4) weeks of the event.
      1. National Directors will begin inviting teams in April 2021 and will communicate commitment deadlines for each event via email.
      2. Invitation lists, including confirmed committed teams, will be available here.
    • Without flight requirements, any flight vacancies for the season will be left vacant. Invitations to any other regular season events are at the sole discretion of the event organizers.
  • Flight Specific Requirements
    • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no requirements for any teams regardless of flight status.
  • Team Registration Requirements
    • All teams that compete in the regular season must submit an online event roster by the event-specific, rolling deadline (Wednesday prior to event). Teams are required to do the following:
      1. Notify the event organizer of their intention to compete in the event, acknowledge understanding that the team will be considered a regular season team and receive confirmation that the team has received a bid to the event.
      2. Once confirmed, use the online rostering system to submit the team’s event roster for the event.
      3. Complete team’s event roster by 5pm MDT on the Wednesday prior to the event.
      4. Ensure that USA Ultimate membership dues and individual waivers are submitted by every participant before they are added to an event roster. Players must be added to the event roster by 5pm MDT on the Wednesday prior to the event in order to participate.
        • Any player found to play in a sanctioned event without being on a team’s event roster will face sanctions along with any other culpable parties, which could include, but is not limited to, the Team Manager, other teammates, other teams and the tournament organizers. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, ejection from the event, fines and/or suspensions.

Rankings

  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, to allow teams the flexibility for when and how they return to play, there will be no regular season rankings for the 2021 season.

III. Postseason (Championship Series)

Series Progression and Timeline

SECTIONALS ->REGIONALS ->NATIONALS

September 11-12
OR
September 18-19


September 25-26
OR
October 2-3


October 21-24

Team registration deadline is FRIDAY AUGUST 27, 2021.

Teams that earned a bid to regionals will have their team and roster rolled over to their respective regional event.

Teams that earned a bid to nationals will have their team and roster rolled over to the final event.

Postseason event roster deadline is WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2021.

Postseason event roster deadline is WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2021.

Postseason event roster deadline is WEDNESDAY SEPTEMBER 8, 2021.

All teams, including Pro, Elite, and any new teams, must start the Postseason at sectionals.

Teams participating in sectionals must have met all team and player requirements, including having all players with a current membership and signed waiver.

There is no additional qualifying process for sectionals.


You CANNOT add players to your regional event roster after the postseason event roster deadline (September 8, 2021).

You CANNOT add players to your nationals event roster after the postseason event roster deadline (September 8, 2021).

Registration

  • Team Registration
    • In order to participate in the postseason, teams must be created via the online rostering system – or rolled over from a previous year (you CAN roll a team over from 2019) – and registered for their appropriate postseason event with a valid event roster (10-player minimum) by Friday, August 27 at 5pm MDT/7pm EDT.
    • Using the links below, Team Managers can create their team in the online rostering system, register their team for the series, add players to the team’s personnel and move Postseason players from the team personnel (season) roster to the team’s Postseason event roster:
      1. Create a Team and Add Personnel
      2. Event Registration and Rostering Participants
  • Roster Additions
    • After the August 27 team registration deadline, teams can make event roster adjustments until the final event roster deadline for the Postseason (Wednesday, September 8 at 5pm MDT/7pm EDT).
    • Teams must maintain a minimum of 10 players on its event roster and can have a maximum of 26 players on its event roster.
      1. After the Final Postseason Roster Deadline on September 8, teams may not add anyone to the event roster.
      2. All players who may compete with you at sectionals, regionals or nationals must be on your Final Postseason Roster by September 8.
        • I.e. if a player will not be attending sectionals but would play with your team for regionals or nationals if your team earns an invitation, they MUST be on your series roster by the deadline prior to sectionals.

Bid Allocation

  • Sectionals to Regionals
    • Automatic Bids – Each section (unless there is team migration) must receive at least one bid.
    • Size bids – The remaining bids will be allocated to sections based on the number of teams in each section that meet the series sign up deadline and the roster deadline (each section’s “official team count”).
    • Bids to regionals will be based on the following formula:
      1. A + B. . .= N
      2. Section A gets (A/N) x R bids to regionals

        N = total number of teams in the region that meet the series sign up and roster deadline
        R = total number of spots in regionals  
        A = number of teams that meet the team sign up deadline and the roster deadline in section A
        B = number of teams that meet the team sign up deadline and the roster deadline for section B (and so on)
    • Tie Breakers
      1. If application of the formula results in a section being allocated zero bids to regionals, and there are unallocated bids, one unallocated bid will be awarded to each section with zero bids.
      2. If application of the formula results in a section being allocated zero bids to regionals, and all bids have been allocated, then one bid will be taken from the section with the most bids and awarded to the section with no bid.
      3. If each section has at least one bid, and fewer than R bids have been allocated, the decimal remainder from the formula results for each section will be compared. The remaining bids will be awarded to sections (one each), in order from highest to lowest remainder. (For example: a section with a decimal remainder of .82 will be awarded a bid before a section with a remainder of .67). 
      4. If there is a tie for the final bid to regionals, the number of players on the tied sections’ Roster Deadline rosters will be used to determine the final bid.
      5. If there is still a tie, the number of teams participating at sections will determine the final bid.
      6. If there is still a tie, a disc will be flipped (or Roshambo if preferred).
    • WOMEN’S DIVISION ONLY
      1. In an effort to provide more valuable playing opportunities for women’s division teams, for the women’s division in regions with up to 16 teams, all teams will be invited to the regional tournament. For regions with more than 16 teams, 16 teams will be invited using the bid allocation formulas as used in the other divisions.
      2. USA Ultimate reserves the right, based on the number of teams registered in a section, to combine sections or require teams to migrate to another section.
  • Regionals to Nationals
    • Automatic Bids – Each region must receive at least one bid.
    • Strength bids – Without regular season rankings to assist in allocating bids for each region to the national championship, a weighted average of bids received from the prior three (3) full seasons (2017-2019) will be used to determine where each of the eight (8) strength bids will be awarded.
    • The weight of each year will be set as follows:
      1. 2019: .5
      2. 2018: .35
      3. 2017: .15

        Using the exact averages, regions will receive the whole number of their weighted average and any unawarded bids will be disseminated based on the decimal remainder (ex: a region with a decimal remainder of .82 will be awarded a bid before a region with a remainder of .67).
    • Final Bid Allocations for 2021
    • Tie Breakers
      1. If more than one region has the same decimal remainder and there are not enough bids to award all regions in the tie a bid, then a weighted average of rankings points of the top five teams in those regions will be calculated.
      2. Using the top five teams’ rankings points from each of the three seasons (2017-19), a weighted average for first place, second place, etc. will be determined. Bids will be awarded to the highest ranked region(s) in order to break the tie.
      3. MIXED DIVISION
        • A tie in decimal remainders was found between the Northwest and Southeast regions, at 2.5 and 1.5 respectively. 
        • When comparing the #3 weighted average spot in the Northwest with the #2 weighted average spot in the Southeast, the NW#3 had a weighted average ranking of 1702, whereas the SE#2 had a weighted average ranking of 1619, thus awarding the Northwest the final bid.
      4. WOMEN’S DIVISION
        • A tie in decimal remainders was found between the Great Lakes and North Central regions with both having a weighted average of 1.5.
        • When comparing the #2 weighted average spot in the Great Lakes with the #2 weighted average spot in the North Central, the GL#2 had a weighted average ranking of 1603, whereas the NC#2 had a weighted average ranking of 1381, thus awarding the Great Lakes the final bid.

Rules

  • 2021 Rules
    • All games will be played using the current edition of the USA Ultimate Official Rules of Ultimate. Any changes to these rules must be pre-approved by the USA Ultimate Competition Committee. Any experimental changes authorized by USA Ultimate for use during the postseason will be outlined in this section of the guidelines and communicated to team and event organizers prior to the start of the regular season.
    • Teams participating in the National Championships will be required to have a representative from their team take and successfully pass a rules quiz. The quiz will cover basic rules questions, cap rules and observer applications. Completion of this quiz is mandatory for all teams attending the 2021 National Championships.
  • Game Length Minimums
    • All games at sanctioned USA Ultimate events must meet the minimum point and time-based requirements (each game must have been initially set to be, at minimum, to 11 points and 60 minutes in length).
    • NEVER report an inaccurate score. Doing so will result in game disqualifications and other appropriate sanctions.
      1. If a game is a forfeiture, do NOT put the score in as 13-0 or 15-0. You must inform the TD and report a W/F on the USA Ultimate reporting app.
      2. As a general rule, USA Ultimate prohibits the forfeiting of scheduled games during the regular season. Please see the section on Forfeit Rules below for more information.
    • Games under the aforementioned minimums are subject to USA Ultimate and Competition Working Group review.
    • Requests to shorten any game must be approved by the event manager/TD and should still meet the minimum requirements mentioned above.
  • Forfeit Rule
    • A team must play all its games at a “qualifying” tournament in order to advance to the next tournament in the Postseason Championship Series:
      1. A team that forfeits a postseason game, and every player on that team’s postseason event roster, is disqualified for the remainder of the postseason.
      2. Any team that declines to finish a scheduled game or games, or attempts to decide a match by any manner other than playing ultimate on the field, will forfeit those games. Should both teams in a match choose not to play, then it will be considered a double forfeit.
      3. At the discretion of the events USA Ultimate coordinator, consideration may be given to situations that might warrant an exception being made, provided it does not affect the fairness or integrity of the competition.
      4. Consideration should be given if a team misses the first game of the first day because of travel problems.
    • If one team is not ready to play at game-time, points may be assessed at a rate of one (1) point per five (5) minutes. Under these conditions, if the score of the game reaches 8-0, the team that has failed to signal readiness will technically forfeit the game.
    • A team will be considered to have forfeited any game where the number of players that can safely participate falls below the minimum requirement set by the competition minimums above.
    • EXCEPTIONS: In the following two cases, outlined in the Formats Manual, a scheduled game at a Postseason event may be left unplayed.
      1. Case 1
        • It is the last game of the tournament for both teams.
        • Both teams are already guaranteed to advance to the next stage of the postseason (or both teams have already been eliminated from advancing).
        • Neither of the teams wishes to play the game.

          If ALL of the above conditions are met, then the game may be left unplayed. The final placement of the teams will be determined based on their current standing in the format.
      2. Case 2
        • It is the last game of the tournament for both teams.
        • The teams have played twice already in the tournament and one team has a 2-0 record against the other team.
        • Either one of the teams does not wish to play the game.
        • The team with the 2-0 record will be placed above the other team in the final tournament rankings.

Eligibility

  • Geographic Eligibility
    • At least 50% of the players on a team’s roster must reside in the section in which that team will compete. Pro and Elite teams receiving byes to regionals must meet this standard for the section in which they would normally compete.
    • At least 75% of the players on a team’s Season Roster must reside in the region in which that team will compete.
    • A team can roster no more than five (5) out-of-region players at any Regular Season Event in which the team will be competing. Additionally, a team may not roster more than seven (7) out-of-region players during the Regular Season.
    • “Residence” is defined as meeting both of the below criteria:
      1. Location where the person is living for the majority of September and October, and
      2. Location where the person is living for the majority of either the three months prior to September 1 or immediately following October 31.
    • If the above definition means that a player does not have a region as their “residence,” then the player is considered to be an out-of-region player and counts towards a team’s out-of-region limits (maximum of five out-of-region players and no more than 25% of the roster).
    • If a regional boundary divides a metropolitan area, a team based in that metropolitan area may request an exception for players living in that metropolitan area to count as in-region for that team. In order for an exception to be granted, a player and team must establish that the player is part of the local community in which the team is based. In order for teams to be in compliance with the geographic guidelines throughout the season, players must receive exception approval prior to participation with the team at a regular season event.
      1. To request this exception, email your National Director and copy the Manager of Competition and National Team Programs carolina@hq.usaultimate.org.
    • Sectional and Regional boundaries are available on the USA Ultimate website.
  • Gender Division Eligibility
    • In their USA Ultimate membership account, every athlete should select the gender identity option that best aligns with their gender identity. When registering for a USA Ultimate sanctioned or championship series event, athletes should select to participate in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe based on their indicated gender identity.
      1. Players who select Man/Boy as their gender identity option are eligible to compete in men’s divisions or as a man-matching player in mixed divisions.
      2. Players who select Woman/Girl as their gender identity option are eligible to compete in men’s or women’s divisions, or as a woman-matching player in mixed divisions.
      3. Players who select the Non-Binary or Prefer to Self-Report gender identity option are eligible to compete in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe, as per USA Ultimate’s Gender Inclusion Policy (approved 11.2020).
        • Note: For those who select Prefer to Self-Report, there will be a fill-in option to provide any additional information regarding your gender identity. This is for internal educational purposes only and will not be shared.
    • On-field personnel ratio rules for the mixed division are described in the Mixed Division On-field Personnel Ratio section of the Competition Guidelines.
    • For more information about USA Ultimate’s Gender Inclusion Policy, click here.
    • Teams that are found to have violated the letter or spirit of these rules or whose behavior undermines the competition structure (e.g. misrepresenting the composition of a team at a specific event, misrepresenting the composition of a team over the course of the season, intentionally playing with ineligible players) will be subject to ramifications as outlined in “Violations and Sanctions.” Roster violations should be reported to the Manager of Competition and National Team Programs at carolina@hq.usaultimate.org.
  • Mixed Division On-Field Personnel Ratio
    • The personnel ratio for the mixed division of the Triple Crown Tour regular season and postseason will be 4/3 (four man-matching and three woman-matching or four woman-matching and three man-matching).
    • Similar to the Gender Division Eligibility guidelines above, USA Ultimate will not discriminate on the basis of gender identity, regardless of sex assigned at birth, or any other form of gender expression for whether an athlete matches up against a woman-matching or man-matching player of the opposing team during any given point.
    • We affirm that people of all gender identities should have the freedom to participate in USA Ultimate sanctioned or championship series events in the division in which they feel most comfortable and safe based on their gender identity and should be recognized, respected and included at every level of the sport.
    • For more information about USA Ultimate’s Gender Inclusion Policy, click here.
    • Teams that are found to have violated the letter or spirit of these rules or whose behavior undermines the competition structure (e.g. misrepresenting the composition of a team at a specific event, misrepresenting the composition of a team over the course of the season, intentionally playing with ineligible players) will be subject to ramifications as outlined in “Violations and Sanctions.” Roster violations should be reported to the Manager of Competition and National Team Programs at carolina@hq.usaultimate.org.
    • DETERMINING THE RATIO
      1. With the exception of games at the US Open, at the start of each game after the first disc flip, an additional disc flip happens with the winner selecting which end zone is the “genzone.” At the start of each point, the team that is at the genzone must choose the gender ratio. This process applies for the entire game (the “Genzone Decides Rule”).
      2. Games played at the US Open will also have an additional disc flip after the initial flip, where the winner will decide the personnel ratio for the first point. For the second and third points the ratio must be the reverse of the first point. For the fourth and fifth points the ratio must be the same as the first point. This pattern of alternating the ratio every two points repeats until the end of the game (half time has no impact on the pattern). This is in line with WFDF’s Rule A, also known as the “prescribed ratio” rule described in the official WFDF Rules of Ultimate 2021-2024 – APPENDIX v1.0.
      3. If a team cannot match the on-field personnel ratio of all seven players on the team determining the personnel ratio for the point, then it must play with fewer than seven players, matching the personnel ratio with as many players as possible.
      4. Injury timeouts – In the event of an injury timeout where a player leaves the field, the replacing player must maintain the same personnel ratio as was with the injured player. If a team replaces players, the opposing team has the option of substituting a like number of, or fewer players.
        • The replacing player(s) must maintain the same personnel ratio as was with the player(s) they replace.
        • If a team calls an injury timeout but does not have a replacement player of the same to maintain the same personnel ratio as was with the injured player, it may not replace that player and must play fewer than seven players.
  • Roster Maximums and Minimums
    • Maximums – Teams may have a maximum of 26 players on their postseason event roster.
    • Minimums – Teams must have a minimum of 10 players on their postseason event roster.
      1. For mixed teams, the event roster must include at least five woman-matching and five man-matching players.
    • Competition Minimums – Competition Minimums are set for the safety of our teams. A team must have seven players to start a game, and a team must have five to continue playing at any point. If a team cannot field five players, the game is a forfeit.

Formats

  • Sectionals and Regionals
    1. Formats will be determined by coordinators using USA Ultimate guidelines in the USA Ultimate Formats Manual.
    2. Any variations must be approved through the National Division Director. Contact your Sectional or Regional Coordinator for information.
  • Nationals
    1. Format changes will be determined and announced by USA Ultimate prior to the end of the regular season, and will be based on competitive, promotional and logistical considerations.
    2. Additional changes may be made if determined by USA Ultimate to be necessary to meet goals for the event.

Seeding

  • Seeding for the series events will be done by the event coordinator using the following information: results prior to the postseason (e.g., head to head, common opponents, tournament finish), input solicited from all the captains of participating teams, results of the 2019 season and other applicable information.
  • Regionals will additionally be held to the following guideline: no team that finishes ahead of another team at sectionals may be seeded behind that team at regionals.
  • The Nationals Championships will additionally be held to the following guideline: the order of finish at regionals will be strongly considered in determining seeding for nationals, but will not be binding.
  • Seeding for any postseason event must be approved by the next coordinator in the chain of command. If the USA Ultimate coordinators for the event and their immediate supervisor are affiliated with the same team (player, coach, alum, etc.) seeding must be approved by the next highest unaffiliated USA Ultimate coordinator or staff.

International Events Qualification and Eligibility

I. 2022 World Games

The World Games is the largest, most prestigious and highest profile international event in which ultimate is contested. Through the World Games, the International World Games Association, a member of the International Olympic Committee, provides an unparalleled opportunity for the sport’s top national teams. Only the top eight countries in the world, as determined by the World Flying Disc Federation, are invited to compete at this event.

In 2022, The World Games (WG) will be held in Birmingham, Alabama on July 15-25. There will be a single selection camp (tryouts) where interested, eligible players can compete for a spot on the mixed team to represent the United States in international competition.

Eligibility Requirements

  • In order to demonstrate support for, and an active understanding of USA Ultimate and WFDF rules, officiating systems, standards and expectations:
    • Players must have actively participated in the USA Ultimate College Series or Club Series during the year prior to the WG event (2021).
    • Players must participate in the USA Ultimate College Series or be rostered and must be actively participating on a USA Ultimate club team during the year of the WG event (2022). 
    • Players must have been on one of the three WUGC 2020 teams (Men’s, Mixed, Women’s).
    • Exceptions to these requirements may only be granted by the USA Ultimate Competition Working Group.
  • A player participating on a USA Ultimate team may not participate on any other team at the event.
  • Players must be USA Ultimate members in good standing in order to apply for the team and at the time the WUGC event takes place.

Residency Requirements

  • USA Ultimate adheres to the National Team eligibility requirements set forth by WFDF, with the following additional restrictions:
    • Players are deemed to be eligible if they own a U.S. passport or equivalent legal documentation issued by the U.S. government.
    • The U.S. team may have up to three (3) players on the roster who are deemed to be “resident non-citizens.” These “resident non-citizen” players must:
      1. Own a legal certificate of permanent residency issued by the U.S. government; or
      2. Have resided in the United States at least two (2) years prior to the state date of the event and spent more than 75% of those two years in the country.

II. 2022 World Ultimate Club Championships

Contested every four (4) years, the World Ultimate Club Championships (WUCC) is an international event hosted by the World Flying Disc Federation to crown the best club teams in three divisions: men’s, mixed and women’s. WFDF allocates multiple bids to each interested country based on their international ranking and standing.

With the uncertainty surrounding the 2021 USA Ultimate club season, which typically dictates the order in which club teams are awarded these bids, the Club Competition Working Group is currently discussing how best to award bids to teams that will represent the United States at WUCC. More information on that process will be forthcoming. Once that process has been decided, these guidelines will be updated.