General Course Rules

At this point you should be familiar with the different course formats and the differences between courses and skills. In this section we will cover course rules that are consistent regardless of course format. All the material covered in this section can be applied to any course format.

The Course

Rule: Courses are required to feature between 10 to 20 obstacles of varying obstacle types.

Breakdown: Athletes want more time on obstacles the most fair competitions will test the athletes ability on a wide range of obstacle types.

The ref must clarify what obstacles are “in play” for a competition. Anything not mentioned as in play is automatically considered out of bounds. When the athlete comes in contact with something out of bounds they will be marked as having failed to complete that obstacle.

Only one athlete is allowed on the course at a time. This helps ensure the athlete competing has complete focus while on the course.

Obstacles must be completed in the order given to them.

Rule: Courses designers can set specific courses for each division (age/gender) in a competition.

Breakdown: There are many factors to consider when adjusting or not adjusting course designs by age or gender that go beyond the scope of this training. At this point it’s important to know course designs have flexibility when deciding if different divisions will have their own course variations or if they will share a course design with another division.


Competitions may set a time in which the athlete needs to complete the course. The athlete must leave the course once the time has expired. Only the obstacles completed prior to the expired time will count towards their scoring.

Competitions may set a “rest time” in-between obstacles. A rest time refers to time the athlete takes to recover after they completed one obstacle but before they start the next obstacle.

A rest timer will start as soon as the athlete completes any obstacle. The athlete must start the next obstacle before the timer goes off. Failure do so will result in the athlete failing the current obstacle.

It’s the responsibility of the ref to clarify if a particular course is enforcing a course time limit or a rest timer.


Rule: Courses must not be practiced prior to the competition.

Breakdown: This rule may seem unusual to those coming from other sports. Athletes are typically allowed to warm up on the equipment prior to a competition.

Ninja competitions place a large emphasis on the ability to adapt techniques and apply them to new obstacles during the athletes first attempt on the obstacle. This adaptability is one of the key skills tested during ninja competitions and is the primary driver for not practicing obstacles prior to the competition.


This concludes our section on our general course rules. At this point you should feel familiar with the following topics:

  • What rules determine course design.
  • Course rules for time limits and rest times.
  • Rules that govern athletes practicing a course prior to the competition.