Photo by Scott Roeder –

If you’re like most Ultimate players, you’re comfortable with the rules. You’ve read them all the way through. At least once in your career. Probably.

The start of the San Francisco Dogfish season is coming up fast. As you’re lining up your tickets and following updates on Twitter and Facebook, are you ready for what you’ll see on game day?

Don’t worry. This isn’t a quiz or a comprehensive review of the rules. This is just an overview to highlight some of the exciting differences you’ll see in MLU games.

Field Width: 53.33 yards
Those extra 13+ yards mean a lot of open space to throw into, and the potential for some pretty intense foot races between O and D to get to the disc.

Stall Count: 7 seconds
Although seven seconds is technically less time, at elite levels the stall is often counted this quickly. A mostly silent count puts more pressure on the throwers and means they will look to move the disc more quickly.

Timed Quarters: 10 minutes each
There will be clock stoppages, but when time ends, so does play. Look for rapid-fire offense and huge countdown plays. MLU games allow for two overtime periods followed by sudden-death overtime.

Tipping the Disc: Allowed
As long as the disc is still spinning a player can tip it to himself. While this might inspire some players to add some freestyle skills to their arsenal, that disc is vulnerable to defensive play since it’s not considered in the player’s possession. Once the disc stops spinning the player needs to catch it or tip it to a teammate.

Timeout Calls: Substitutions
A new addition to the strategy toolbox: any number of players can sub in and out of the game on a timeout and not just between points or on injuries. And yes, this includes the thrower.

Fouls: 3 Categories
Violations now fall into spot fouls, personal fouls, or flagrant fouls. There are too many details to cover quickly here (see section X in the MLU Rules for the breakdown), but note that thrower travels are turnovers and double-teaming is now OK.

Officials: 5
One Head Official, three Assistant Officials, and one Sideline Official. These men and women make all of the calls in the game. Some long-time players feel a little trepidation about this idea, but the Spirit of the Game—the core of what makes Ultimate stand apart from other sports—is still present in the…

Spirit of Sportsmanship
Players or coaches can invoke the Spirit of Sportsmanship to overturn an official’s call on inbounds, score, contested catch, dropped disc, travel, or foul calls that wrongly benefit their team.

Ultimate has evolved over the past 40 years based on the needs of players and spectators, and the rules have adapted accordingly. The MLU rules are designed to keep the game moving as much as possible. Be prepared to see over-the-top, adrenaline-fueled, arena-sized play when the Dogfish take the field on April 20.

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