There’s more to the rules than just the rules.
The USA Ultimate Rules Working Group, part of the larger Spirit, Officiating and Rules (SOAR) Committee, is responsible for revising and updating the Official Rules of Ultimate. They also provide resources and support to answer questions about the rules and help all players know how to implement the rules on the field.
An accounting of the substantive changes from the 11th Edition Rules to the 2020-2021 Rules of Ultimate.
Redlined version of the 11th Edition Rules, showing all changes in the 2020-2021 Rules of Ultimate.
What’s the difference between a check, a self-check and a “ground touch”? And when are each of these required?
A “check” is what’s used to restart play whenever play has stopped (i.e., after a call; II.R.3), and both offense and defense must acknowledge readiness. Usually, the thrower presents the disc to the marker to “tap it in,” but in some situations, when there is no offensive player in possession of the disc or no marker close enough to the thrower after a stoppage of play, an offensive or defensive “self-check” is used instead (VIII.D.4 and 5).
This form of check still requires acknowledgment by both teams before the disc can be put into play. Although an offensive self-check is physically carried out by touching the disc to the ground, it is NOT the same as a “ground touch.”
A “ground touch” is used by a thrower to put the disc in play when the disc is “live” (II.R.2). This basically means that whenever the thrower is walking the disc to the spot where he or she is going to put the disc into play (for example, walking an OB disc back to the sideline, walking a disc to the front end-zone line, or walking a pull to the brick mark), he or she must touch the disc to the ground before making a throw (XIII.B, IX.H, and VIII.B.10). (The reason for this is in order to signify the pivot spot to the marker so that the marker knows where to set their mark- this is especially helpful to the marker on an unlined field!) If the thrower fails to touch the disc to the ground before the throw, it is a travel. A “ground touch” is not a check though, and the thrower does not need to wait for defensive acknowledgment before throwing the disc (although it seems to be common practice for the thrower to offer the disc to the marker for a “check” in many live disc situations, such as when putting a pull into play at the brick mark, even though this is not actually required).
Where do players reposition after a call?
Where players reposition after a call depends on where the disc goes after the call has been resolved (XVI.C.4), but the underlying rationale is to try to put players in the position they would have been if the infraction hadn’t occurred. There are 3 possible scenarios: a) the disc was never thrown, b) the disc was thrown and stays where it is, or c) the disc was thrown but now goes back to the thrower.
a) If the disc was never thrown, then the players simply go back to where they were when the call was made.
b) If the disc was thrown after the call, but it’s determined that the disc stays where it is (whether it’s caught or turned over), then players should go to where they were when that pass was completed (or turned over).
c) If the disc was thrown, but it’s determined that the disc goes back to the thrower, then the players go back to where they were either when the call was made, or when the disc was thrown, whichever was earlier.
This last one is the situation that usually requires the most readjustment, and is the one that many people tend to get wrong. For example, if a long huck goes up to a receiver and a defender sprinting down the field, they both go up for the disc, the receiver calls a foul and the defender contests, the disc is sent back to the thrower. Now the receiver and defender (and maybe a few other players) are standing all the way downfield, but the disc has gone back to the thrower. In this situation, everyone should go back to where they were when the throw went up, since this was earlier than the time of the call. This usually means that the receiver and defender go back to somewhere much closer to where the receiver first initiated his or her cut.
When is thrower/marker contact a foul on the marker, and when is it a foul on the thrower?
First of all, contact between a thrower and a marker who is illegally positioned (for example, a marker who is not giving the thrower disc space) is generally a foul on the marker (XVI.H.3.a.3). This supersedes anything written below, which only applies to legally positioned markers.
When the marker is set up in a legal marking position, contact between a thrower and a marker is treated differently depending on whether the contact is with the marker’s extended arms and legs (meaning, outstretched arms or raised legs), or with the rest of the marker’s body (or planted legs). Let’s look at each of these cases individually.
When a thrower comes in contact with the marker’s extended arms or legs, it is considered a foul on the marker unless the marker’s extended arms or legs were completely stationary (something that occurs only very rarely; XVI.H.3.a.2).
When a thrower comes in contact with the marker’s body (excluding extended arms and legs), the relevant issue is who initiated the contact, and the foul is on the person that initiated the contact (XVI.H.3.a.4). This rule clarifies that it is an offensive foul for the thrower to try to “draw the foul” by plowing into the marker’s body. If both players are vying for the same spot simultaneously, though, it’s considered a foul on the marker (XVI.H.3.a.3).
Is an uncontested foul in the end zone by a defensive player a score, or does the disc come out to the goal line?
Basically, it depends on what kind of foul it is, that is, whether the foul occurred before or after the receiver got control of the disc.
If the defender fouls the receiver while the disc is in the air (or before possession is gained), thereby preventing the receiver from being able to catch the disc, this is considered a “receiving foul” (XVI.H.3.b), and if it’s uncontested, the receiver gets the disc at the spot of the infraction (XVI.H.3.b.2; which in this case, is in the end zone). However, it is not a goal: the defender checks the disc into play right there in the middle of the end zone (X.C), at which point the disc is now “live” (II.R.2), all players are free to move about, and the receiver has to walk the disc out to the goal line, touch it to the ground (XIII.B), and play the disc from there (X.B).
If, on the other hand, the defender fouls the receiver after the receiver had already gained possession of the disc, thereby causing the receiver to lose possession of the disc, this is considered a “general” foul, and XI.A.2 applies. In this case, the result is that a goal is awarded. Note also that a “strip” (XVI.H.3.d) is considered a general foul, and therefore an uncontested strip in the end zone is also a goal.