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Flying Discs Sports | Under the Sun Sports | Suntan Sports

Flying discs are round objects made of plastic and usually the size of a dinner plate or 9-10 inches in diameter. They have a curled-under lip at the edges, enabling the disc to gain altitude as it spins when it’s thrown. There are all sorts of discs available on the market today. Some discs whistle when they reach a certain speed when flying, there are illuminated discs meant for night time play that use battery powered lights or phosphorescent plastic that glows and even ring-shaped discs which are known for significantly longer flights. Flying discs are thrown and caught for fun and sport, and there are many types of different disc games. While there are conflicting accounts on who first invented the flying disc or “Frisbee”, many credit Walter Fredrick Morrison, a Los Angeles Building Inspector, with the fame. After Morrison’s invention of the disc called the “Pluto Platter”, toy makers at Wham-O noticed it and convinced him to sell his rights to the design in 1955. The inventor of this flying disc earned over $1 million in royalties for his invention. The toy company, Wham-O, was ingenious in marketing the disc as a new sport and in 1964, the first pro model was offered for sale. Today Frisbee® is owned by Mattel Toy Manufacturers and is one of over 60+ manufacturers of flying discs. Wham-O sold over one hundred million of these before the selling the toy to Mattel.

The World Flying Disc Federation (WFDF) is the international governing body for flying disc sports; its responsibilities consist of arranging and managing world championship events, establishing baseline rules, and recording world records. The federation has members and associations in over 60 countries, from Australia, Africa, Asia, to North America, Europe and South America. Formed in 1985, the disc sports represented include: Ultimate (outdoor, indoor, beach), disc golf, field events (distance, accuracy, self caught flight, discathon), guts Frisbee, double disc court, and freestyle.


Ultimate Frisbee (outdoor, indoor, beach) –

In 1967, Maplewood, New Jersey high school students invented Ultimate Frisbee®, a recognized sport that is a combination between football, basketball and soccer. The Ultimate Players Association (UPA) serves as the governing body for the disc sport of Ultimate in the USA. Founded in 1979, the UPA is one of the first (and one of the largest) flying disc sport organizations in the world, with 27,000+ members. This disc game is played by two seven-player teams with a high-tech plastic disc on a field comparable to football. The idea of the game is to score by catching a pass in the opponent’s goal zone. When a player is in possession of the disc they may not move, but may pivot and pass to any of the other teammates on the field.



Guts/Flutterguts –

Guts Frisbee® is fun disc game inspired by the old favorite, dodge ball, which involves throwing a flying disc (not balls) at members of the opposing team. The teams line up and the disc is thrown as hard as possible towards someone of the opposite team. Points are earned when you catch the other team’s throws. The first team to 21 with a 2 point differential wins. Flutterguts is a noncompetitive version of guts, with some changes. The two teams face each other and the main rule difference is that the disc must be thrown so it does not rotate! (it can flip, but it cannot spin). These variables make fast throws and catching the discs very challenging. The USGPA (Guts Players Association) officiates this version of a flying disc sport.

Disc Golf –

In 1977 a type of a Frisbee game was created called Disc golf. This game is played much like traditional golf, but instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc, or Frisbee®. Disc golf discs are usually smaller, denser and are tailored for more control, stability and distance. The object to this disc game is to complete each hole in the fewest number of throws. Because many people shared the dream of organized play, they got together to form the PDGA to help oversee and guide the quick growth of the sport.

Freestyle –

Freestyle is an extreme version of Frisbee throw-and-catch, similar to hacky sack with a flying disc. Players perform fast-paced trick throws and complicated catches between each other. "Tipping" is when the bottom of the disc is struck while in flight to make it propel upward. Tipping is often done with the finger or foot. The Velasquez brothers, Jens and Erwin, are well-known for this within the sport. Freestylers constantly push the envelope to invent more complex moves and intricate combinations. The competitors train non-stop to perform choreographed routines for the judges. Some tricks include the around-the-world, the nail delay and the airbrush. The Freestyle Players Association (FPA) is the governing body of freestyle, whose job is to develop guidelines for competitions, organize the Freestyle Frisbee World Championship and promote participation in this wonderful flying disc sport around the world.

Disc Dog/Frisbee Dog –

Disc Dog is the generic name for what is often referred to as “Frisbee Dog.” The term "disc" is preferred because "Frisbee" is a trademarked name. (Think of the term “Kleenex” as opposed to “tissue”) In disc dog competitions, human disc throwers and their dogs battle in events such as distance and freestyle catching. When you see this teamwork and heart firsthand it becomes evident that this sport celebrates the unique bond between dog and handler. This fastest growing sport on four paws started getting popular in the 1970s, mirroring the popularity of flying disc sports. The ultimate moment was back in August of 1974 when Alex Stein, a college student from Ohio, and his now famous dog Ashley Whippet jumped the fence at a nationally broadcast baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Stein had a couple of flying discs with him, which he threw for Ashley. As the dog jumped upwards of about 9 feet, the nearby crowd was mesmerized with her disc-catching skills. The actual baseball game was halted and the announcer chimed in, verbally highlighting the pair’s accomplishments. After about 8 minutes or so, Stein was escorted off the field. Once the national spotlight had been cast in the direction of Disc Dog, the public’s interest grew with the sport.

The Frisbee Dog World Championship (also known as the Ashley Whippet Invitational World Championship and the Canine Frisbee Disc World Championship) is a yearly competition for disc dogs. The disc dog teams are judged on 4 different categories: Dog, Human, Team & Overall. The judges also keep track of the “catch ratio” for every duo, in case of a tie breaker. In the late 1980s a trophy cup was introduced by pioneers Eldon McIntire, Jeff Perry, Peter Bloeme and Alex Stein to celebrate and commemorate the yearly AWI World Champions. The large silver cup is covered with small plaques inscribed with names of all the winners. It is called the "Lander Cup" in honor of Irv Lander, then the much respected Executive Director of the AWI.


Did you know?


The Frisbee® is over 50 years old!

Skyhoundz arranges the largest disc dog competition series sponsored by Hyperflite Flying Discs. The Series features over 100 disc dog competitions held all over the world.

In 1968, the U.S. Navy spent nearly $400,000 studying Flying Discs in wind tunnels, recording their flights with computers and cameras, and building a special Frisbee-launching machine on top of a Utah cliff to test a flare launcher prototype.


What a beautiful thing to be out in the warm sun, playing with your dog! Studies have shown that pets have an instinctive calming and healing effect on us humans. While watching the disc dogs in action, you get the sense that even though the dogs are just having fun with their owners the bond between them is no laughing matter. They are so amazing! Relaxing on the beach and tossing a Frisbee® is a blast! Just remember the majority of these games events are going to place you out in the sun, so make sure you always go prepared with sun shades, hats/visors, sunglasses, UV clothing and especially sunscreen, as needed. And please don’t forget about your dog! Some breeds (German Shepherds, especially!) are prone to a condition called pannus, which is prolonged and over exposure of the sun’s UV rays to the eye. Doggie sunglasses and goggles have been created to help our furry friends. There are even pet sunscreens!

Are you one of the thousands in love with the flying disc? Tell us about your favorite sport in our Sun Forum or send an email to the Suntan Crew!

-CA suntan

At the time this article was written, the man credited with the invention of the Flying Disc died at the age of 90 in his home in Utah. This article is dedicated to the memory of Walter Fredrick "Fred" Morrison (January 23, 1920 – February 9, 2010) 

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