Like any professional sport, ultimate disc requires coaches to be armed with codes and strategies.

There is a technical side to the game which requires teachability and competence. A good coach will be able to understand the codes of ultimate frisbee and relay these codes to the student so that they may learn to play correctly.

Let’s take a look at some of the coaching codes involved in ultimate disc training.


Woman performing coaching codes in frisbee field

Before we begin, let’s take a look at what this sport is exactly.

Formerly known as ultimate frisbee, ultimate is a non-contact sport played by teams with a frisbee or flying disc. Ultimate was pioneered as a sport in 1968 when a group of students
who attended Columbia High School in New Jersey began to play it.

When it comes to agility and general athletics, ultimate is similar to a number of other physical team sports. However, it does have its differences. One of the most significant differences is that it is self-officiating, which means there are no referees officially watching over a game.

Because the term frisbee is technically owned and copyrighted by toy company Wham-O Toys, the governing body of USA ultimate cannot use this term in the name of their sport. Instead, it is now widely known simply as ultimate.

A player can score points by passing the flying disc to their teammate who is situated in the opposing team's end zone. Some of the other fundamental rules include not moving when holding the disc and incomplete passes are automatically turnovers to the other side.


Two man performing coaching codes while playing frisbee

Now that we’ve discussed how to define ultimate as a sport, let’s take a look at how to teach a learning player how to throw a backhand.

Firstly, there are two popular grips when throwing a backhand. The first is the conventional grip, where the index finger is resting along the outside of the disc while the other three fingers are curled just inside the rim.

The alternative grip is called the power grip. This is when all four fingers are curled around the inside of the disc. To align the body for a backhand throw, the thrower should be standing at a sideways angle, with their shoulder facing the target.

Instead of curling the throwing arm in, try to keep it straight and pull the disc in an arch across the body. When you release the disc, make sure to snap your wrist in a flicking motion. If you’re using the standard grip to throw, point at the target once you’ve let go of the disc.

There are some common mistakes that you can make when attempting a backhand throw. Firstly, you may not snap the wrist and instead try to throw with the arm. Secondly, you may curl your arm in which reduces momentum and accuracy.


man implementing coaching codes while playing frisbee

Similar to the backhand, there are two favorite grips when throwing a forehand in ultimate disc. The first is often referred to as the peace-sign grip. This is when you split your index and middle finger across the inside of the disc to form the peace sign.

The second grip you may use with a forehand throw is the power grip. This is when you hold your index and middle fingers together across the inside of the disc. Your other two fingers should be on the outside of the disc, and your thumb should be located on top of the disc.

When aligning your body for a forehand throw, it needs to be straight on from the receiver. The outside edge of the disc should be tilted slightly upward so that your palm is facing straight up.

With the forehand throw, it's all in the snap of the wrist. This is because more momentum will be gained from a strong snap of the wrist than a full swing of the arm.

There are some common mistakes you can make when throwing a forehand disc in ultimate. Firstly, you may try to throw with your arm, not your wrist. Secondly, the disc may wobble too much, which is the result of not winding up enough.


Frisbee disc with a smiley design

When looking at coaching codes for the hammer throw, you can learn a lot from the forehand throw. This is because players may use the same grips they execute when throwing a forehand shot.

When throwing a hammer throw, place the foot opposite to your throwing arm in front. Hold the disc high above your head, approximately at a 45-degree angle. Make sure it is angled towards the opposite shoulder.

When you throw the disc, remember to aim upwards and snap your wrist.

There are some common mistakes you can make when executing a hammer throw in ultimate. The first mistake is throwing a blade. This is when the throw does no turn-over. To correct this, adjust the angle of the disc when it is in your hand and make sure you're throwing from above your head and not your arm.

The second mistake is not throwing far enough. If this is occurring, it’s important to aim the disc higher above your head. A common mistake here is throwing the disc straight into the ground. The more snap in the wrist, the less likely this will occur.


woman in blue tank top implementing coaching codes while playing frisbee

When remembering your coaching codes, there is one standard way to show a student how to catch a disc.

The easiest way to teach someone how to catch a disc in ultimate is with the alligator or pancake catch. This is when you catch the disc between your hands, bringing them together in a clapping motion.

If the disc is being received below your knees or above your shoulders, then a two-handed or one-handed rim catch may work better. This is when you attempt to catch the disc by receiving the rim between the thumb and fingers of the same hand.

Tips to remember when catching a disc:

  • Watch Constantly: Watch the journey of the disc all the way, right up until you
    catch it in your hands.
  • Be Sure: It’s important to be sure that you’ve definitely caught the disc before turning
    around and running upfield.
  • Practice: While it's vital to practice one-handed catches when training, try always to
    use both hands when playing an official game.
  • Running Catches: When training, try to practice running catches as much as
  • Behind the Disc: When you can, make sure your body is behind the disc.


man implementing coaching codes while playing frisbee

When looking at ultimate disc coaching codes, one of the most important things to remember is the spirit of the game. Ultimate is unique in this way because all players are held to
a standard of conduct due to self-officiating.

This ensures that each player will adhere to being a good sport, as well as promising to play fair. When using coaching codes on beginners of the game, it's essential that you encourage comradery, good sportsmanship and ultimately, fair play.

With that being said, let’s take a look at a bit of strategy to implement both with the offense and defense:

Offensive Strategy:

  • Stacking: Execute stacking to reduce clogging, create order for cutting and create space.
  • Cutting: The purpose of cutting is to gain distance, maintain possession and move the disc to a better position on the field.
  • Clearing Out: Once a receiver has made their cut, they need to clear out. This
    involves running wide and getting to the back of the stack again.

Defensive Strategy:

  • Guarding Cutters: This is when each defending player is charged with guarding a
    cutter in the stack. They can either stand in front of the cutter, stand beside
    the cutter or stand behind them.
  • Zone: Sometimes, when the weather makes playing a game of ultimate difficult, a zone defense is utilized. This type of defense is used to force the offense to make
    more throws, which increases the chances of a turn-over of the disc.
  • Zone Offense: When using a zone for the offense, three handlers will dump the
    disc back before swinging it across the field. The aim of this strategy is to
    tire out the cup.


woman implementing coaching codes while playing frisbee in the beach

When learning how to coach players who are new to ultimate disc, there are a number of important codes that you must remember.

From learning how to teach a backhand and forehand throw to communicating important strategy tips and tricks, there’s a lot to learn about the game of ultimate disc.

Above all the rules and technical details, there is the spirit of the game. This is what keeps this sport so unique and appealing. Remember to hold your players to a high standard of conduct, and they will enjoy playing ultimate disc every time.

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