Out of bounds - where does it come back in?

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Jon By Jon

This came up in a game tonight, we weren't sure where to bring the disc back in. I threw into the end zone from the sideline about 10 yards out. The disc never came back inbounds, but the receiver jumped from in bounds, caught it, then landed out. I was pretty sure that they got possession on the cone, based on:

IX.C A player contacting the out-of-bounds area is out-of-bounds. A player who is not out-of-bounds is in-bounds. An airborne player retains in-bounds or out-of-bounds status until that player contacts the playing field or the out-of-bounds area.

IX.E A disc becomes out-of-bounds when it first contacts the out-of-bounds area, contacts an out-of-bounds offensive player, or is caught by an out-of-bounds defensive player.


  1. To continue play after the disc becomes out-of-bounds, a member of the team gaining possession of the disc must carry it to, and put it into play at, the spot on the playing field proper nearest to where the most recent of the following events occurred:
  2. the disc completely crossed the perimeter line;
  3. the disc contacted an in-bounds player;
  4. the disc contacted a defensive player; or
  5. the disc became out-of-bounds due to contact with the out-of-bounds area or a player while any part of the disc was inside the perimeter line.

After establishing a pivot at the appropriate spot on the field, the thrower must touch the disc to the ground before putting it into play (XIII.B).


So it looks like when he catches it, the disc becomes inbounds due to IX.C, then becomes out of bounds when he landed due to IX.E, then they take it on the corner due to IX.H.2. The counter argument is that the disc was never in, and they took it from where I threw it. Rules gurus, what's the call?

nep By nep

Correct, but the logic is just slightly off - the disc only becomes out-of-bounds once, at the turnover.

A disc doesn't become "out-of-bounds" just because it flies over an out of bounds area. The disc you threw was in-bounds the whole time until the catching player landed out-of-bounds.  (IX.E) (If he had thrown it from mid-air before landing, it would be an awesome valid throw of a continuously in-bounds disc).

When he touched down, he became out of bounds, (IX.C) so the disc became out of bounds (IX.E), so a turnover occurs. (XII.A).  The most recent event that happened was IX.H.2 (labeled 3 above, oddly) -- it touched an in-bounds player. You said it never came back in bounds, so IX.H.1 didn't happen most recently.

For the offense, there's almost every reason to go for a disc that is just out of bounds (unless they've touched out of bounds first). Because a catch is better than a miss, and even just a touch might be rewarded with the turnover happening further up field.  For the defense, there's a little more calculation -- an energetic block of the disc might only bobble it into the field without making it out-of-bounds, and even if not, the possession spot will be further down field for them. That's why you see defenders sometimes just box out an offensive player without even trying to touch the disc -- which happens to be a blocking foul, though rarely called (XVI.H.3.c.1.).