Here are all the essential rules you need to know about AFL


  • Games involve two teams of 22 players, with 18 from each team on the field at any one time.
  • The game starts when a siren sounds and a field umpire bounces the ball in the centre of the ground.
  • The ball is also bounced in the centre to start each quarter and after a goal has been scored.


  • Games are divided into four quarters of 20 minutes, plus extra time, and teams swap ends after each quarter.
  • Teams try to gain possession of the football and then run, kick and handball it towards their goals, which are at opposite ends of the ground.
  • Players can run with the ball as long as they bounce it once every 15 metres.


  • Players pass the ball to each other using a kick or handball.
  • A handball involves holding the football in one hand and hitting it with the clenched fist of the other hand.
  • If a player can mark the football (catch it from a kick that has travelled at least 15 metres provided the ball has not touched the ground or been touched by another player), he is entitled to a set kick and the opposition is not allowed to tackle him until he plays on.



  • A player can win possession of the ball by tackling an opponent.
  • A legal tackle is performed by grabbing an opponent, who has the ball, below the shoulders and above the knees.
  • Players are not allowed to push an opponent in the back while making a tackle and tackled players must correctly dispose of the ball within a reasonable time (one to two seconds).
  • A player who is tackled illegally will be awarded a free kick. In some instances when a mark or free kick has been awarded, an additional 50-metre penalty will be awarded against the opposing team if a player unduly delays the play or abuses an umpire.


  • The aim of the game is to kick goals.
  • That means kicking the ball through the tall inner posts (the goalposts) to score six points.
  • If the ball goes between a goalpost and either of the smaller outer posts (the behind posts), a behind (worth one point) is scored.
  • When it comes to reading or writing the scores, the goals go first, then the behinds, then the total points. For example, a score of 10 goals and six behinds is a total of 66 and is written 10.6 (66).
  • The team that finishes with the highest total of goals and behinds is the winner