Terms in Aussie Rules Football

a rough guide

Australian Football has developed a unique and rich terminology.
This list is an alphabetical glossary of terms, jargon and slang.


being hit in the face by the ball or an accidental headbutt
So called in honour of a famous incident involving the face of Rugby League player Mario Fenech, nicknamed the Maltese Falcon, or simply the Falcon, because of his Maltese background.
originally nrl slang
fat side
an imaginary area of the ground
It indicates the greatest space occupied by the least number of players. See thin side.
a cry from the crowd
Short for fifty-metre penalty
fifty-metre penalty
an extra 50m of field position awarded to a player
Following a mark or free kick when an opposition player after the mark/free kick is paid. When paid, the umpire calls time on, measures out fifty metres from the mark by running in a straight line towards the goals and setting the new mark, unless the player is already within 50 metres of goal, in which case the mark becomes the exact centre of the goal line.
Infractions include:
  • Arguing with, disputing the decision of, or using abusive language towards an umpire.
  • Scragging the player who has taken a mark – that is, to tackle the player or impede him from taking the kick as quickly as he would like. This rule has been applied more stringently since 2006 to give defensive players less time to flood the defence, and to keep the game more flowing.
  • Failing to return the ball quickly and on the full to a player who has been awarded a free kick.
  • Wasting time, deliberately or inadvertently, by kicking the ball forward after one's team has conceded a free kick.
  • Using unnecessary roughness against a player who has already taken a mark.
  • Running over the mark – the man standing on the mark cannot move forward, and must respond if called to recede by the umpire.
  • Running through the mark – other defensive players who are not standing on the mark may not run across the imaginary line between the man standing the mark and the man taking the kick, unless following his direct opponent.
  • Entering the protected area – defensive players may not impede an opponent by entering or remaining within the corridor of space extending ten metres either side of the imaginary line between the man standing the mark and the man taking the kick, and extending backwards, unless following his direct opponent.

If any free kick is paid against the defensive team while a mark or free kick is to be taken, the umpire either pays the free kick to the violated player at the spot of the foul, or awards a 50-metre penalty to the player with the ball, depending upon which penalty brings the attacking team closer to goal.
Any free kick resulting from an interchange infringement or a line-up has an additional 50-metre penalty applied to it – these are the only circumstances under which a 50-metre penalty is automatically applied to a free kick without further infringement.
final eight
an eight-team championship playoff tournament
Developed and adopted in the 2000 season.
Eight teams, which are ranked in the home-and-away season, participate in a four-week tournament, with two teams eliminated in each of the first three weeks.
The Grand Final is played in the fourth week between the two remaining teams, with the winning team awarded the premiership.
Pathway to the Grand Final
The system is designed to give the top four teams an easier road to the GF than the second four teams. The top four teams need to win only two finals to reach the GF, while the second four teams need to win three. The two winning teams of the top four receive a bye in the second week of the playoff and then play at home in the third week, and the two losing teams play at home in the second week. Under this finals system, the final eight teams are broken up into two halves of four teams which are in turn split into two pairs each. The higher a team's position on the ladder, the greater benefits they receive.
The top half of the ladder has two key advantages. These teams only need to win twice to reach the GF (either a Qualifying or Semi-Final and a Preliminary Final), and they have the benefit of the double-chance; since the Qualifying Final is non-elimination, losers still have a second chance to reach the GF by winning their two other finals.
Teams in the top six get the benefit of at least one home final; the top two teams play two home finals.
A team's final rank in the home-and-away season also determines their pairings for the first week. In the QFs, 1st plays 4th and 2nd plays 3rd; in the Elimination Finals, 5th plays 8th and 6th plays 7th. The better a team's rank, the more advantageous (or less disadvantageous) the matchup. After the first week, matchups are determined directly by the results of the previous week.

  • First and second host their first two finals.
  • Third and fourth visit for the QF but then host their next final.
First to fourth only need to win twice to reach the Grand Final. Winning the Qualifying Final earns them the bye to the Preliminary Final; losing gives them the double-chance via the Semi-Final.
  • Fifth and sixth host their EF and visit any other finals they reach.
  • Seventh and eighth visit throughout the finals.
Fifth to eighth must win all three of their finals (Elimination, Semi-, and Preliminary Finals) to avoid elimination.
common expression for the premiership
A.F.L. Premiership Flag 2016
Based upon the practice of awarding a flag for winning the premiership (analogous to the pennant in American sports).
a short stick with crepe paper streamers
In team colours, it is used in barracking at footy matches.
a tactic making it difficult for the opposition to score
It involves the coach releasing players in the forward line from their set positions and directing them to the opposition forward area, congesting the area and making it more difficult for the opposition to score.
It is commonly deployed to protect a lead, to stop a rout or as a counterattack tactic based on rebounding the ball to an open forward line.
This tactic is often bemoaned by spectators and generally regarded as ugly football.
Flooding first became an offensive tactic in 1996 when Rodney Eade became head coach to the Sydney Swans.
In order to give star forward Tony Lockett the most room on the small Sydney Cricket Ground he had the team play an extra 'line of three' in defence when the opposition had the ball, creating a set-up with 9 defenders, 6 midfielders and three forwards.
The idea was to create a forced error and turn-over, followed by swift movement to Lockett who had ample space to lead into.
The Swans used this tactic to great effect in 1996, reaching the Grand Final, and subsequently in 2005.
This was similar to Denis Pagan's "Pagan's Paddock" which gave Wayne Carey wide space to manoeuvre in.
Terry Wallace became infamous for the "superflood" that he employed in the game between the Western Bulldogs and Essendon in 2000.
Wallace successfully quelled the Bombers' scoring power by playing 14 of the 18 men on the field in the defensive zone for the entirety of the game, and often with all 18 players taking up positions in the 50 metre arc.
the positions of ruckman , ruck rover , and rover
An old term referring to an on-the-ball player, so-called because they follow the ball around the ground, as opposed to playing in a set position. They cover more ground than any other player on the field.
forward pocket
a key position
The main target in the forward line when attacking.
Designed as either a role for a second full‑forward or for players who are smaller but faster, more agile and capable of kicking brilliantly on the run, which is the more traditional role.
Many forward pockets, like rovers, are quick thinking and opportunistic crumbing players. This means that they need to be short enough to pick up the ball quickly after it hits the ground from a contest, think and move quickly to evade potential tackles, and kick or set up a goal. They do not exclusively crumb the ball. Sometimes, they lead for the ball like full forwards, so they have to be competent at marking the ball. Some can even jump so high that they can contest marks, despite their lack of height.
four points
common parlance for winning a game
Refers to the number of premiership points awarded for a win in an AFL game and in many other leagues. To get the two points would be the South Australian equivalent.
free kick
a penalty awarded by a field umpire
Given to a player who has been infringed by an opponent or is the nearest player to the opposition team member who has broken a rule.
final siren
the end of the game
1 the area of the ground directly in front of the opposition's goals
2 the name given to the player placed in that position
This has always been a purely defensive role, with the ability to accelerate and change direction quickly with the aim of stopping the opposition from getting the ball and scoring. Spoiling the ball is also of utmost importance. Importantly, this player often starts a chain of passes to move the ball out of the back and down the field quickly. This player often kicks the ball back into play after a point has been scored, although some teams prefer a midfielder or the small back pockets for this role, freeing the typically taller full‑back player to attempt to mark the kick in.
1 the area of the ground directly in front of a team's goals
2 the name given to the player placed in that position
A position with a focus on kicking goals.
These players are good at one‑on‑one contests with the opposition, and are the main target in the forward line when attacking.
As well as contesting marks with their strength, they will try to run into space, leading for the ball, to shake off their defender and take an uncontested mark. This means that the full forward needs to be fast, but only in short bursts. Some teams have experimented by playing a smaller and faster player in this role to beat the defender with speed rather than strength. This player is often referred to as a key forward and can often switch positions with the centre half-forward for team balance reasons.