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Taking the Field

Australian Football is normally played  with 18-a-side game on an oval field approximately 160 yards long by 130 yards wide.

Prior to the game commencement, captains toss the coin with the umpires to decide which way each team will run. Umpires will check that your cleats conform with standards such as no metal studs, and will check that you are not wearing any jewelry.

It is also compulsory to wear mouth guards. You can buy generic ones for approximately $15 from a sporting goods store or you can get them custom made from your dentist . Its a good idea to start using them at training.


The game is played over 20 minute quarters with 5 minute breaks between the first and second quarters and the third and fourth. A 10 minute break is allocated for half time. Tournaments are usually played with 2 halves of 20 minutes each.


If you are subbing, the player going on waits until the player coming off has done so. Subbing is also done at a specific point of the field – usually at the halfway point on the boundary line. Subbing can be done at any time and you don't need the umpire's permission.


Each team is permitted runners who are the only non-playing people who can give instructions to the players from the coach and receive instructions from players to the coach.

Water girls/ boys

Australian Football is one of the most physically energetic sports and it is vital to keep up your liquid intake. Teams can have water people who can pass out water – but not give instructions. Runners and water people need to ensure they don't accidentally get in the way of play (particularly for their own safety!).

Center Throw
Center Bounce/ Center Throw/ Rucking

At the beginning of each quarter, and after every goal, the ball returns to the center circle to be thrown up and contested by the 2 opposing rucks. Note that you are only allowed 4 players from your team within the center box, while this takes place. Other times that the umpire will throw the ball up between 2 contestants is when the ball has been unable to be played. It is not necessary for the same people to go up, but is usually someone with height.


The object of Australian Football is to kick as many goals as you can – worth 6 points each. A goal is scored when it is kicked by an attacking player through the middle posts without the ball being touched by the opposition. If it is kicked by an attacking player through the outer posts, then it is worth only 1 point and known as a behind. Note that the ball can travel along the ground between the center posts.


If the opposition kick or touch or handball the ball as it goes through any of the posts, then it is also known as a behind and worth only 1 point also. A defender will deliberately put a ball through the goals they are defending if she feels that the risk of the opposition scoring a goal is too high. This is known as a ‘rushed behind’.

After a goal is scored, the ball goes back to the center to be thrown up by the umpire for the rucks to contest.

After a Behind

After a behind has been scored, a player from the defending team kicks the ball back into play from within the goal square. One foot must be within any of the lines of the goal square when being kicked and no player may be closer than 5 meters of the goal square when this is being done.

Ball out of bounds

If the ball is kicked over the boundary line on the full (in the air) or if it is deliberately propelled otherwise, then the opposition gets to kick the ball in. If the ball goes over the boundary line in any other way, then it is thrown in. The ball will be thrown in by boundary umpires. If there are no boundary umpires, 2 players (1 from each team) stands on the line with both their backs to the field and the player from the attacking half that play is in, will throw it in using both hands and over their head (see picture).