Are you new a fan of the AFL? Well, this is the rookie guide that will surely help you enjoy all of the AFL matches as you cheer for your favourite team. 

The Australian Football League was originally known as the Victorian Football League (VFL) founded in 1896. Since then, the AFL is regarded as the only fully professional men’s football competition in Australia. 

The league usually consists of 18 teams with 22 players competing in a 23-round regular season also known as the home-and-away season. In addition, there are four reserve players on the bench. 

The main objective of the game is to kick the ball between two goalposts. It usually starts with a ruck and is played in four quarters. The challenge is that the only way you can pass the ball is to do a handball. 

You can only tackle your opponents from shoulder height downwards. If the player is tackled and refuses to let go of the ball, the umpire will be called for a possession turn-over. 

What’s fascinating about the AFL is that the field can also be used for cricket. It is usually 135-185 metres long and 110-155 metres wide. The goal square is the space where the ball must be kicked and when returning to play after a minor score. 

Here is the basic AFL scoring that you should know: 



To score a goal, the player must simply kick the ball between the two post goals. It might seem simple, but it is actually a challenge especially if there are other players trying to tackle you!


A behind is scored when the ball passes between a goal post and the behind. Sometimes, it is also when the ball hits the goalposts. 

Ball is carried or forced over

A point is given if the ball is carried or forced over the scoring line by the attacking team. 

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  • 3 central umpires: these umpires usually move around the field awarding marks, free kicks for a rule violation, and to restart the play after a rest
  • 4 boundary umpires: these umpires decide what’s going to happen next if the ball left the field by crossing the boundary line
  • 2 goal umpires: responsible for the goal line, makes sure that the ball passes between the goalposts, and for scoring


Aside from knowing the basics of the AFL, it is also important to get familiar with some of its jargons. Here are some of them: 

  • Peppering the goals: when a team has numerous scoring chances
  • Seagull: a player who wins the outside ball
  • Breadbasket: the stomach of a player
  • Kick a bag: a large haul of goals
  • Guts: the centre of the ground
  • Good shoe: a good kick
  • Clunk: taking a strong mark
  • Barrel: kicking a torpedo
  • Shellacking: a big win
  • Blinder: plays well
  • Woodwork: posts
  • The sticks: goals
  • Clanger: error
  • Dukes: hands
  • Agate: ball 

Here is a quick rundown of the AFL teams and their nicknames: 

Adelaide Football ClubCrows
Brisbane LionsLions
Carlton Football Club Blues
Collingwood Football ClubMagpies
Essendon Football ClubBombers
Fremantle Football ClubDockers
Geelong CatsCats
Gold Coast SunsSuns
Greater Western Sydney GiantsGiants
Hawthorn Football ClubHawks
Melbourne Football Club Demons 
North MelbourneKangaroos 
Port AdelaidePower
Richmond Football ClubTigers
St Kilda Football Club Saints
Sydney SwansSwans
West Coast Eagles Eagles 
Western Bulldogs Bulldogs 

With all these basic information about the AFL, you will surely enjoy watching AFL matches without being confused! 

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