Fouls - What to do

Ultimate is self-refereed and players are responsible for calling their own fouls and infractions. We encourage all players to check out the full rules and the VUL exceptions, but it can take a while to completely understand them. Here is a summary of things you need to know about fouls, an important part of the rules.

Generally speaking, the rules are in place to replicate what would have happened if the infraction had not occurred.

While there are a variety of possible outcomes, once you see a few of them in practice, you will likely realize that most of them are fairly common sense when you consider what would have happened without the infraction.

About Fouls

Intentional contact is absolutely not allowed . As well, players must do whatever they can to avoid contact.  The number one guiding rule is to play safe at all times.  It is not acceptable to partake in dangerous play in order to catch the disc. The VUL is a rec ultimate league, you should never risk injury to another player or yourself in order to make a play.

As a general rule, the person initiating the contact has committed the foul, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. When there's a foul:

  • Make or echo the call. If you are calling the foul, yell “Foul”. If someone else is calling the foul, echo the call to make sure everyone else on the field knows there was a call so that play can stop. Play does not stop until the thrower acknowledges the call OR the outcome of the next throw after the call is decided. (By ‘decided’ we mean that it is agreed that the throw resulted in a catch or not – the result of the call affects whether the following throw was caught or not, so this needs to be agreed upon first).
  • Be Objective. Consider what happened and objectively decide if you agree or disagree.

You are Playing Defense

If you agree with the call OR you make the call and your opponent agrees:

Acknowledge the foul. What happens next depends on the situation that was happening at the time of the foul:

1.  If the disc was thrown, and:

  1. the other team caught the pass, the player who caught the disc maintains possession. "Play on" should be called with play continuing.
  2. the other team doesn’t catch the pass,  the disc is returned to the thrower with the stall count starting at zero. If the player fouled is the intended receiver, the disc stays with that player. Play restarts with a check of the disc.
  3. the other team doesn’t catch the pass BUT the foul occurred away from the play where the disc was, it is a turnover, and your team gets the disc.  Call “play on” and start playing offense! (Ex: If you foul a player by accidentally tripping them on the  other side of the field from where the disc was thrown)

2. If the disc was NOT thrown, play restarts with a check of the disc and a new stall count.

If you disagree with the call OR you make the call and your opponent disagrees:

Say “contest”.  What happens next depends on the situation that was happening at the time of the foul:

1. If the disc was thrown, and:

  1. the other team caught the pass, the result of the throw stands. Play restarts with a check of the disc.
  2. the other team doesn’t catch the pass,  the disc is returned to the thrower, with the stall count starting at one above the last number uttered. If the last number uttered was above 5, the stall count starts at 6. Play restarts with a check of the disc.
  3. the other team doesn’t catch the pass BUT the foul occurred away from the play where the disc was, it is a turnover, and your team gets the disc.  Call “play on” and start playing offense! (Ex: If another player thinks you fouled them on the  other side of the field from where the disc was thrown)

2. If the disc was not thrown, the stall count is reset to one above the last number uttered, or 6 if it was above 5. Play restarts with a check of the disc.


You are Playing Offense

If you agree with the call OR you make the call and your opponent agrees:

Acknowledge the foul. What happens next depends on the situation that was happening at the time of the foul:

1. If the disc was thrown, and:

  1. You or someone on your team caught the pass AND the result of the throw WAS affected by the foul, the disc is returned to the thrower. (Ex the thrower instigates contact with their mark, or you are going for the disc and accidentally push over your defender) The stall count starts at one above the last number uttered. Play restarts with a check of the disc.
  2. You or someone on your team caught the pass BUT the foul occurred away from the play, the player who caught the disc maintains possession. (Ex: If you foul a player by accidentally tripping them on the  other side of the field from where the disc was thrown). Play restarts with a check of the disc.
  3. Your team does not catch the disc (the pass is intercepted or incomplete), it is a turn over and the other team gains possession of the disc. Call “play on” and start playing defense!

2. If the disc was not thrown the stall count starts at one above the last number uttered. Play restarts with a check of the disc

If you disagree with the call OR you make the call and your opponent disagrees:

Say “contest”.  What happens next depends on the situation that was happening at the time of the foul:

1. If the disc was thrown, and:

  1. You or someone on your team caught the pass AND the result of the throw WAS affected by the foul, the disc goes back to the thrower. Play restarts with a check of the disc.
  2. You or someone from your team did not catch the disc AS A RESULT of the foul (the pass is intercepted or incomplete), the disc is returned to the thrower, with the stall count starting at one above the last number uttered, or 6 if it was above 5. Play restarts with a check of the disc.
  3. You or someone from your team did not catch the disc BUT the play was not affected by the foul (e.g.: the foul was on the other side of the field from where the disc was thrown), it is a turnover and the other team gains possession of the disc. Call “play on” and start playing defense!

2. If the disc was not thrown, the stall count starts at one above the last number uttered, or 6 if it was above 5 if it was contested. Play restarts with a check of the disc.


Things to remember about fouls

  • Be loud. If you are fouled you should yell “foul” so everybody on the field can hear you.
  • Mind your own business. Only the fouled player may call a foul.
  • It’s probably the marker’s fault. Unless a marker’s body is completely stationary (unlikely), any contact between the marker and the thrower is the marker’s foul, not the thrower’s.
  • Cheaters are lame. It is completely against spirit of the game to make a call for the sole reason of exploiting the rules to benefit your team.
  • Let it go. Remember that another player may have a completely different perspective on the play and saw things differently. Even if you are 100 % positive you were fouled, they could be 100% positive you were not! Let them contest the foul and proceed with the game.
  • BE CALM - If a disagreement arises, handle it with the BE CALM approach
  • Questions? If you have any rules questions, post them on our rules forum.