Suggested Revisions to Official Rules of Ultimate Open for Community Feedback

Posted: June 20, 2019 05:16 PM

Colorado Springs, Colo. (June 20, 2019) – USA Ultimate is currently undergoing a process to revise and update the Official Rules of Ultimate. The changes being proposed were developed from a variety of sources, including member input, review by USA Ultimate staff and volunteers, and experimentation at a variety of domestic and international ultimate events. The review process requires a period during which proposed changes are presented to the membership for feedback. That period will take place from June 20-July 20, 2019, and all members of the ultimate community are invited to participate. We hope that respondents will educate themselves about the proposed changes and provide productive input through one or more of the available feedback mechanisms (survey, online discussion, direct email or personal communication).

Structural oversight of the official rules and all aspects of how the sport is played is the responsibility of the Spirit, Officiating, and Rules (SOAR) Committee, a board-level committee defined in the USA Ultimate Bylaws. [1] 

Within the SOAR Committee are the Spirit of the Game, Rules, and Observer working groups. These three groups work together under SOAR to implement policy decisions related to the rules and rules philosophy, and to oversee relevant programs.

In 2018, a new rules policy was developed by SOAR and passed by the Board of Directors. The policy reinforced and established new guiding principles for the rules of the sport. The policy also defines a new process for how the rules are revised, including how often. Highlights of the policy include an ongoing commitment to Spirit of the Game and self-officiating, a regular two-year cadence of rules experimentation, review, feedback, and revision, and acknowledgment of the importance of a strong core set of rules with the potential for variations for new or different environments (e.g., youth, beach, indoor). Rules will now be revised every two years, and new editions will be named for the years in which those rules are to be in effect. For more detail, you can review the full policy here.

The Rules Working Group added some new members in early 2018, including National Rules Director, Janna Hamaker, and has been working with the Spirit and Observer working groups to evaluate ideas and develop concrete proposals for changes. They met in person in early 2019 and have been working since then to bring these proposed changes to the community. Some of the changes being proposed include adjusting the dangerous play rule, simplifying cap rules, streamlining offsides procedures, and implementing the WFDF no-stop travel rule. To review all of the proposed changes and provide feedback, please refer to the following links:

-       2020-2021 Official Rules Draft – Clean, HTML edition

-       2020-2021 Official Rules Draft - 11th Edition with mark-up of proposed changes

-       Substantive Changes - Major - Help Document - Major changes from 11th Edition (PDF)

-    Feedback Survey (closes July 20, 2019) - Community feedback about proposed changes before final adjustments and approval

The rules were last updated in 2007 from the 10th edition to the current 11th edition. Prior to 2007, the rules were updated from the 9th edition to the 10th edition in 2002. The 2020-2021 Official Rules of Ultimate, including all approved changes, will be used for all official USA Ultimate competition during 2020 and 2021. The 11th Edition will be used throughout the remainder of 2019.