Ultimate Frisbee Terms and Vocabulary

If you're new to ultimate frisbee, the jargon can be confusing! Here are a few terms it will be helpful to know at your next ultimate frisbee pickup or league game. With some definitions I've also added a bit of context or commentary.

Ultimate Frisbee Terms - Offense

Here are some of the things you might hear when folks are talking about types of throws or offensive positions.

Air Bounce - When the plane of the disc is forced downward it will often "bounce" on a cushion of air and rise again. Most players try to avoid air bounce in their throws because it reduces speed.

Alligator Catch - A two handed catch with one hand ending up on top, and the other on the bottom of the disc

Backhand - the most common type of throw. All fingers are curled under with the thumb on top of the disc. The throw begins with the shoulder, then elbow aimed toward the target.

Blade (or Knife) - a throw that does not have much float. It quickly rises and falls. Usually is more difficult to catch, and also more difficult to defend.

Break - as in "that's a break!" is when you start off on defense but create at least one turnover and go on to score the point.

Break Throw - a throw that you use to break the mark. Common examples would be low release or high release throws. 

Break the Mark - When you throw to the area where the mark is trying to prevent you throwing to

Break Side - the throwing lanes where the defense is trying to prevent the disc being thrown.

Claw Catch - one handed catch - usually in front of the player who is receiving the disc

Cut - (n)/(v) A movement or series of movements that a player makes when they are trying to receive the disc. examples (n): "make a cut." "can we have some cuts from the back of the stack!" examples (v): "I was cutting but the lane was clogged" "I cut to the front corner of the endzone"

Cutter (n) - can refer to a position (handlers and cutters) or to a specific person who is actively moving to get the disc.

Flick (or Forehand) - The other primary throw in ultimate frisbee. The disc is held with the thumb on top and is gripped with the meaty part of the hand underneath. The middle finger and pointer finger are on inside rim of the disc. The throw starts with the shoulders square to the target and is initiated with movement in the hips. The elbow comes forward first, followed by the wrist and a flicking motion ads spin to the disc.

Hammer - The most common upside down throw. The grip is similar to a slick but the throw is released upside down and overhead.

Handler (n) - a position in ultimate. Usually a person with good disc skills. They will be the ones who will pick up a stopped disc or receive the pull.

Hold (n) - when you start off on offense and score the point (aka. you didn't get broken)

Hospital Throw / Hospital Pass - a pass that hangs above a group or people, usually the result of  a throw that did not go as intended, and because a lot of people have time to get to where the disc is and try to make a play on it, it is more likely to results in injury

Pancake Catch - (same as Alligator Catch)

Scoober - another upside down throw. The grip is like a hammer but the release point is at shoulder level. Scoobers usually do not travel as high or as far as hammers.

Stopped Disc - if there's been a turnover and the team if now on offense, but the disc is not "live" it is a "stopped disc." Examples might when the disc has gone out of bounds. Or if there was a call made and play stopped.

Swill - a terrible throw

Touch - has a positive or neutral connotation. A throw with touch will hang (in a good way) in the air a bit and allow the receiver to run onto the disc. A throw with touch is done on purpose. Versus a "floaty" throw wich hangs unintentionally or for too long in such a way that it gives the defense a chance at the disc.


Learn more about the throw-specific vocabulary on our Ultimate Frisbee Throws page.



Ultimate Frisbee Terms - Defense

Here's some ultimate frisbee vocabulary that you're likely to hear on defense.

3-3-1 or 3-2-2 or 4-2-1 - a sequence of three numbers is often used to quickly communicate what type of zone is being played. the first number is the number of people in the front wall or cup, the second number is the number of people in the second line of defense, and the third number is how many people are in the deep space.

Across - as in "match up across." This means that you are guarding or marking the person who is standing across from you before the pull goes up. 

Burnt Deep - when an offensive player cuts deep and leaves the defense behind by a large margin.

Cup - three folks who are closest to the disc in a zone defense

Chase - see "Rabbit"

Deep Deep - the person who is usually closest to the defending endzone in a zone defense

Junk - can refer to any defense that is not person-to person. Often it will be a loose zone or something flexible and poachy

Mark - can refer to the person who is covering the person with the disc. It can also refer to the act of "marking" the disc. The mark attempts to "force" the thrower to throw to specific passing lanes and attempts to block specific throws or passing lanes

Monster - see Deep Deep

Person, Personal, Person-to-Person, Match Defense - These are all terms that indicate person-on-person coverage instead of zone defense.

Poach - When a defender temporarily leaves the person they are marking and defends a throwing lane instead. 

Posterized - when a player gets skyed by a large margin in such a way that a photo of the catch would likely end up as a poster. Used as a friendly heckle.

Rabbit - on some types of junk and zone defense one person will always be marking the disc. this person is called the rabbit or "chase"

Red Zone - close to the endzone

Skyed - when one player catches the disc in the air over another player, they have skyed someone.

Zone Defense - A style of defense in which players are covering spaces rather than marking specific players. 



Learn more about all of these terms as you learn How to Play Ultimate Frisbee


Ultimate Frisbee Terms - with Hand Signals

As you get into more competitive play, you'll see more and more players using hand signals to communicate calls that happen on the field. Here is a great video with the common hand signals you'll see in competitive ultimate frisbee.