Right of way: blocking

I was asked a question this week about fouls caused by two people wanting to run into the same space at the same time. It’s something that can come up quite often as a defender and attacker are heading for the same spot. Does the attacker always have right of way? What about if one of them changes direction?

The answer wasn’t obvious to me, so I looked it up, and there are two relevant rules, 12.5 and 17.4:

12.5. Every player is entitled to occupy any position on the field not occupied by any opposing player, provided that they do not initiate contact in taking such a position, and are not moving in a reckless or dangerously aggressive manner.
12.5.1. However when the disc is in the air a player may not move in a manner solely to prevent an opponent from taking an unoccupied path to make a play on the disc.


So once the disc is in the air, you can move wherever you want (in a safe way) as long as you are making a genuine attempt to get to the disc. If that blocks someone else’s route to the frisbee (without initiating contact or making it inevitable) that’s fine.

If you’re cutting to get into position, before the frisbee is thrown, 17.4 is more relevant:

17.4. Blocking Fouls:

17.4.1. A Blocking Foul occurs when a player takes a position that an opponent moving in a legal manner will be unable to avoid, taking into account the opponents expected position based on their established speed and direction, and non-minor contact results. This is to be treated as either a receiving foul or an indirect foul, whichever is applicable.


The key words here are “unable to avoid” and “established speed and direction“. So a defender can move in a way that blocks off where they think the attacker might want to go, as long as it’s not in a way that makes a collision inevitable (or even highly likely).

These two diagrams illustrate a foul by the defender and by the attacker. In both the defender aims to block off the same space, but in the first she steps into the established line of the attacker (in such a way that the attacker does not have time to avoid the collision); in the second they are running parallel and the attacker changes line. This is the attacker’s fault as she tried to cross the defender’s established line.

WFDF announces a new set of Rules of Ultimate and Appendix for 2021-2024

The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF), following a review by the Rules Sub-Committee, has announced an updated set of the Rules of Ultimate and Championship Appendix for 2021-2024. The WFDF Board of Directors have approved these changes and the new rules come into effect on 1 January 2021.

The WFDF Ultimate Rules Sub-Committee has introduced a number of changes aimed at producing better flow of play, fairer outcomes, and a closer alignment with the USA Ultimate rule set, with the additional goal of enabling self-officiating to work as effectively as possible.

“Self-officiation is an integral part of Ultimate, so having a clear and concise set of Rules is critical,” said Rueben Berg, chair of the WFDF Rules Sub-Committee. “This update to the Rules of Ultimate provides greater clarity around some key aspects of the game, as well as including some changes to ensure fairer outcomes, that will hopefully assist in the self-officiation process.”

Rueben continued, “I encourage all players to learn and understand the changes we have introduced. We have a wealth of resources available on rules.wfdf.sport to assist players with rules knowledge.”

WFDF would like to thank the efforts of those across the globe who have helped contribute to putting this latest update together.

Please find the 2021 versions of the rules, the track changes versions and a summary of changes here:

WFDF Rules of Ultimate 2021-2024

WFDF Rules of Ultimate 2021-2024 – Track changes

WFDF Rules of Ultimate 2021-2024 – Appendix v1

WFDF Rules of Ultimate 2021-2024 – Appendix v1 Track changes

Summary of changes

Additional resources are available here: rules.wfdf.sport

Original press release

Checking in

On Sunday, we had a discussion about when to wait for a check (the defending player tapping the disc to say her team is ready) and when to just play on.

As we weren’t all 100% sure of the rules I looked them up. WFDF (World Flying Disc Federation) says:

10.1 Whenever play stops during a point for a time-out, foul, violation, contested turnover, specified turnover, contested goal, technical stoppage, injury stoppage, or discussion, play must restart as quickly as possible with a check. The check may only be delayed for the discussion of a call.


The explanation on that page makes it clear that, “a check is not required after the pull or after a turnover, even when the thrower must walk to the location of the correct pivot point.”

So, if you’re bringing the disc back into play (e.g. from the sideline or back line) you should wait for the check, but from normal turnovers, just play.