Guts Frisbee History

“Guts players are Frisbee’s rock stars.”Stork

One to five team members stand in a line facing the opposing team across the court, with the two teams lined up parallel to each other. Which team begins the play is determined by “flipping the disc”, an action similar to a coin toss, but using the disc itself. One member of the team is then selected to start play. That member then raises an arm to indicate readiness to throw, at which point the members of the opposing team freeze in position.p3054995033-4

The thrower then throws the disc as hard as possible at someone on the opposing team. If the thrower misses the “scoring area” (a demarcated area a bit larger than the space occupied by the opposing team), the receiving team scores a point. If a member of the receiving team catches the disc cleanly, neither team scores a point. If the throw is within the scoring area and the receiving team fails to catch or catches but drops the disc, the throwing team gets a point. The receiving team then picks up the disc and becomes the throwing team.
The receiving team must catch the disc cleanly in one hand, and may not move from the position until after the disc leaves the hand of the thrower. The disc may not be trapped between the hand and any other part of the body, including the other hand. This frequently results in a challenging sequence of “tips” or “bobbles”, which are rebounds of the disc off of receivers’ hands or body to slow the disc down and keep it in play until it can be caught. This often involves multiple players on the receiving team.
Play continues until at least 21 points have been scored by one of the teams and there is a difference in score of at least 2 points.


The first International Frisbee Tournament was held in Eagle Harbor, Michigan, in 1958. The sport grew from a pastime of the Healy family picnic and, in the 1960s, its national profile was increased by Jim Boggio Sr. As guts evolved during the 1960s, players started throwing faster and faster until it wasn’t unusual to see presumably unbreakable discs traveling at 60–70 mph shatter on impact with an unlucky defender’s hand. Catching a speeding disc directly was said to really “take guts”, thus the name of the game.

Buck Buchanan, Cupola Bandits Guts Team, 1970s

One tournament player even required fifteen stitches to close a gaping wound across the palm of his hand. By the early 1970s, the game had spread across the United States, Canada, and other countries. The Canadian Open Frisbee Championships (1972-1985) was the second oldest guts tournament. This multi-event tournament was played in Toronto, at the C.N.E and Toronto Islands. In 1985, Ken Westerfield and Peter Turcaj produced Labatt’s World Guts Championships on Toronto Islands. With over 60 teams at a tournament in the game’s heyday, matches became intensely competitive affairs, seeking the IFT’s Julius T. Nachazel Trophy. With radical curving shots, deflected Frisbee’s bobbled frantically among teammates, and spectacular diving catches, guts had become an extreme sport demanding fast reflexes, physical endurance, and concentration.

Air Aces Guts Team, IFT Champions, 1970s.

Since its rise in the 1970s, when even ABC’s Wide World of Sports was televising guts action, and many tournaments were springing up, from Toronto to Chicago and Los Angeles, the sport has gradually declined in popularity in America. Guts had been introduced in Asia by the toy company Wham-O in the 1970s, and by the 1990s it had become even more popular in Japan and Taiwan than in the US. Recent years, however, have seen pockets of strong new American players renewing competitive American interest in the game, also drawing some older players out of “retirement”.

Organization: USA GutsFirst Frisbee poster.

Next Articles:

Home Page:  The History of Frisbee and Disc Sports
History of Ultimate Frisbee
Disc Golf History
Freestyle Frisbee History


History of Frisbee and Disc Sports in Canada
History of Disc Golf in Canada
Ultimate Frisbee History in Canada

Note: This information was referenced and time-lined from disc sport historical and biographical articles including U.S. and Canadian Disc Sports Hall of Fame inductions, Disc Sports Player Federations, and other historical resources. This article was researched, written, and compiled by Frisbee, and disc sports historians. The history in this document may change as events and people are added. Linking or reproduction in whole or part with proper linked crediting is permitted ( For more information, contact:

© 2023 Disc Sports History. All rights reserved.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: