Rules to Bid By: Fouls Away From Disc

Rules to Bid By
By Jack Curran

Last time, under the inspiration of an Ultiworld article covering commonly mistaken rules, I went over picks and the continuation rule. This time I’m going to cover confusing situations that arise when we’re dealing with fouls away from the disc.


This article is part of the AFDC’s Rules to Bid By series by local observer Jack Curran. 

Fouls Away from the Disc

Players have quite a bit of experience when it comes to how to treat a receiving foul or a marking foul, but for a foul that takes place away from the disc, we might have to dig into the rules a little deeper.

Here’s our scenario:

Sean, Anna, and Steven are on offense and are being guarded by Howard, Lauren, and Ryan respectively. Anna is trapped on the sideline with the disc and Sean is trying to make a dump cut, but Howard is being very physical, and bodying him hard. Sean, unable to deal with contact, meekly calls a foul. At the same time, Steven cuts from the the breakside to fill in the dump spot. Anna, not hearing the foul call, breaks the disc to Steven who catches it easily.


Where should the disc go? What if Sean had caught the disc instead or it had been a turnover?

The foul rules state

  • If the team that called the infraction has possession
  • If the offense called the infraction before the thrower began the act of throwing, play stops and possession reverts to the thrower .

Since Sean’s team has possession and he called the infraction, possession must revert back to Anna. This is true no matter what the outcome. It doesn’t matter if the play was affected by the foul, or if it was a turnover. If Howard doesn’t contest the foul, the stall comes in on 0, if he does contest, it comes in on the last reached count + 1 (or 6 if over 5).

An Alternative scenario

Lets consider an alternative scenario where Anna is still trapped on the sideline. Sean, as the dump, cuts up line. Sean, tired of Howard’s physical play, shoulders Howard into the ground, and Howard calls a foul. Anna, not hearing the foul, breaks to Steven for a completion.


We have to search for our old friend, the continuation rule again, because we’re under the same scenario as a pick:

  • If the team that committed the infraction has possession:
  • If the infraction affected the play, play stops and the disc reverts to the thrower unless the specific rule says otherwise.
  • If the infraction did not affect the play, play stops and the result of the play stands.

Sean has committed the infraction with his team in possession. However, we can assume that Howard getting tackled did not affect the throw to Steven. Consequently, the disc remains with Steven. If Sean had caught the disc, the infraction would have affected play, and possession would revert back to Anna. If Anna had thrown a turnover, the play would stand and it would become the defense’s disc.

In summary,

  • A foul called against the defense, away from the disc, and before the throw causes play to stop and the disc to revert back to the thrower.
  • A foul called against the offense is similar to a pick.
    • If the foul affected the play, a completion will revert back to the thrower.
    • If it did not affect the play, the disc will stay with the receiver.
    • If the thrower throws a turnover, the turn will stand.

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