Teaching Self-Refereeing

This session is designed to teach the mechanics and functions of self-refereeing to players. Ideally they already have some familiarity with ultimate or frisbee activities, but it can also be an introduction to the sport.


  • Introduce yourself – your name, where you play ultimate and how long you’ve played for.
  • Outline any safety considerations for the session.
  • Explain that ultimate is a self-refereed sport. The players are responsible for upholding the rules and determining what is fair.



  • If the session participants are new, teach them basic catching (clap catches) and the backhand throw.
  • If they are already familiar, start them with Pairs Passing to review the basic skills.

Activity 1

Play Double Disc Court with the following modifications:

  • Set up larger areas and have 3-5 players per team
    • First ruleset: the other team needs to have both discs in their hands for a point to count. If any disc landed or rolled OOB, then the point restarts.
      • Teaching cues: Be honest about when you get scored on – you got outplayed! Focus ahead – how can we prevent that happening again?
    • Second ruleset: 2 points for either both discs in hands or both discs on the ground (in-bounds), or 1 point for one of each (ie: one caught, one on the ground)
      • Teaching cues: if there’s faster gameplay, how do we keep track? (Have a team plan, talk to each other). What happens if we disagree on the outcome, eg: did a disc land OOB or on the line? (restart the point)
      • Important to let the players determine the outcome themselves
    • Third ruleset: add another disc, this time just need to get all three discs in the other team’s court (in hands or on the ground)
      • Teaching cues: if it’s faster again, how do we keep track? (Stop the game to work out what happened and talk about the fairest outcome)

Activity 2

Play 4 Square with the following modifications

  • Explain that the only rule that will remain throughout is no contact.
  • Start each group/game independently with the rule that a catch in all four squares gets a point, and the team that got scored on adds a new rule for the next point
    • Suggest rules using the CHANGE IT model, but let the players decide what rule gets adopted for the next round
  • Pause after a couple of rounds and introduce the “Accepted” and “Contested” mechanics to resolve uncertainty
    • Both teams state what they think happened
    • Do they agree? The call is Accepted (use hand signal), and the disc stays with the offence
    • Do they disagree? The call is Contested (use hand signal), and both teams “reset the timeline”/ “go back in time”- everyone goes back to the previous catch
  • All groups will end up with very different games. Have a discussion at the end about what rules each group had and how they kept track of them
    • “You are all responsible for knowing and tracking the rules, and making sure everyone plays by them.”

Extra Activity (for longer sessions)

Play Schtick with the following modifications

  • Same as the previous activity, start with just the no-contact and how-to-score rules. The team that concedes a point creates a new rule for the next point.
  • Players will ask “can we _______?” – ask them back if the rules they have at the moment forbid it? Give them room to be creative with gameplay and determine themselves what seems fair.
  • Switch some players across teams after each point to dampen super-competitive attitudes if needed, and to ensure both teams are getting the opportunity to add rules.

Play Ultimate!

  • Teach the “stoppage”, “foul”, and “goal” hand signals
  • Act as a Game Runner for any stoppages. Don’t make rulings, even if the players ask you to – have them share their perspectives and decide on Accepted or Contested.
  • Use the CHANGE IT sheet to make adjustments if needed

Spirit Circle

Have players form a Spirit Circle together and talk about how each component of Spirit of the Game was adhered to during the session. Ask teams to rate themselves in comparison to the other team – were they slightly better than us, slightly worse than us, or about the same as us? This is a chance to reflect on their own conduct as well as the opposition’s.

  • Rules knowledge & use: Did both teams remember and adhere to the rules of games? When both teams agree on what rules the game will have, it becomes everyone’s responsibility to remember them and play by them.
  • Non-contact: Did everyone do their best to avoid contact? This keeps the game safe and avoids anyone getting intimidated or hurt.
  • Fair mindedness: Did everyone take the time to stop the game, allow both players to share their view, and then decided on the fairest outcome (Accept or Contest)?
  • Positive Attitude and Self Control: Did everyone enjoy the session, and make sure their teammates and opponents did as well? Playing fair keeps the game going!
  • Communication: Did everyone understand what was going on during stoppages? Use hand signals to make sure everyone knows what is happening. Talk it out with your opponent, and be sure to listen and consider other viewpoints.

Finish up

  • Ask participants to return all cones and discs
  • Thank them for playing!
  • Tell them about the Ultimate Victoria website to find out more about the sport