Australian rules football, commonly known as AFL (Australian Football League), is a popular sport in Australia. The game is played with an oval ball on a large oval field between two teams of 18 players each. The objective of the game is to score more points than the opposing team. Below are some of the basic rules of AFL. There are many other rules and intricacies to the game that can vary based on the level of play and the specific competition being played.
- The Field: The field is an oval shape and can vary in size, but is typically around 135 meters long and 110 meters wide. The playing surface is usually grass, and the field is divided into three main areas: the center square, the forward 50, and the defensive 50. (more about AFL equipment)
- Umpires: The game is officiated by three umpires who patrol the field and enforce the rules. They can award free kicks for rule infringements, signal goals and behinds, and manage the interchange of players.
- Players and Equipment: Each team has 18 players on the field, with four interchange players who can substitute for players on the field. Players wear a uniform consisting of a jumper, shorts, and boots with studs. The oval ball is made of leather and is slightly larger than a soccer ball.
- Starting the Game: The game starts with a center bounce in the center square, where a neutral umpire throws the ball up into the air. The teams then compete to gain possession of the ball and move it towards their attacking goal.
- Ball Movement: Players can move the ball by kicking, handballing (punching the ball with a closed fist), or running with the ball. The ball must be bounced every 15 meters if a player runs with it.
- Scoring: Points are scored when the ball passes through the two large goal posts or the smaller behind posts located at either end of the oval. A goal, worth six points, is scored when the ball is kicked between the two large posts without otherwise being touched. If the ball passes between the two large posts but is not kicked, a behind worth one point is scored. A behind is also scored when the ball passes between the large and small posts.
- Tackling: Players can tackle an opponent who has possession of the ball to try and win possession for their team. A successful tackle involves wrapping both arms around the opponent and bringing them to the ground. High tackles or tackles that involve contact to the head are penalized.
- Marking: If a player catches the ball from a kick that has traveled at least 15 meters, without the ball touching the ground or being touched by another player, it is called a mark. The player who takes the mark is then awarded a free kick and cannot be tackled.