Spirit of the Game

Spirit in Competition

Spirit on the Field

Spirit Captains

Distinct from a team’s captain, a Spirit Captain is a player that has been designated by their team to address, discuss and resolve spirit-related issues at any point throughout the competition with opponents, teammates, coaches and event officials.

Spirit Timeouts

If other tools have not proven successful, a Spirit timeout may be called by a team’s Spirit Captain if they believe either team has failed to adhere to the principles of Spirit of the Game, gameplay has become dangerous, or repeated violations are causing conflict between teams.

Spirit Circles

If agreed upon by both teams, a Spirit circle can be held after a game. This tool provides an additional opportunity for teams to provide feedback on any Spirit-related issues or possible areas of improvement.

Spirit Scoring

The primary tool for implementation of Spirit, a score sheet allows teams to rate their opponents on the following categories. The reported scores helps determine the Team Spirit Award.

Spirit Scoring Categories

Rules Knowledge and Use

Players followed the rules. When they didn’t know the rules, they made an effort to learn and apply the rules.

Fouls and Body Contact

Players avoided dangerous plays, fouls, and minimized incidental (minor) contact. They played safely.

Fair Mindedness

Players made justifiable calls. They took accountability for rule breaches and/or incorrect calls and informed teammates about wrong, unnecessary or unfair calls.


Players were respectful and considerate, regardless of the competitive outcome. Players and/or sideline personnel showed a willingness to reach a resolution during contentious situations.


Players engaged in respectful conversations with us by actively listening to others’ perspectives, being considerate of the time and using hand signals.


The Role of an Observer

At a handful of higher-profile, showcase tournaments, USA Ultimate uses observers. The fundamental role of an observer is to help players uphold Spirit of the Game by assisting them in creating an environment that fosters sportsmanship and respect among teammates and opponents. Because the players are in control, an observer’s ability to make calls is limited. Active calls that observers can make include:

  • Line calls, such as in/out of bounds or the end zone, and offsides
  • Timing issues
  • Conduct issues

All other calls, including fouls and violations, are the responsibility of the player. But if competitors cannot quickly agree on the outcome, or if they request, observers can offer their opinion and make a ruling.

Spirit of the Game Resources

Spirit of the Game
Last Modified: 2021-08-20 16:32:28
Spirit of the Game

Outlining the roles and responsibilities of a Spirit Captain.

Last updated – May 2021.

Last Modified: 2021-05-21 16:14:24

Guidelines and information for coaches about their role and relationship with Spirit.

Last Modified: 2020-11-14 23:06:34