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.


wrapping , holding or wrestling a player to the ground
The player being tackled must have possession of the ball. Players not in possession of the ball are not allowed to be tackled, and will receive a holding-the-man free kick if tackled. As there is no offside rule, players can be tackled from any direction, and are often blindsided. For this reason players are allowed to shepherd and bump their opponents within 5 metres of the ball, to protect the ball carrier. Legal Tackles
  • Perfect Tackle – when a player lays a tackle on an opponent that has had prior opportunity to dispose of the ball and in the process makes it impossible for their opponent to dispose of the ball.
    For example, if a tackler pins an opponent's arm, then the opponent cannot possibly handball, and if they pin both arms, then it is nearly impossible to legally execute a kick.
  • Bump (Hip & Shoulder) – a tactic for both dispossession of the player with the ball and also impeding players involved in a contest but not in possession of the ball.
    Arms are not used in a bump, which must be made side-on using the hip and/or shoulder.
  • Diving Tackle – when a player leaves the ground in attempting to tackle.
  • Sling Tackle – a player slung to the ground in a tackle
  • Chicken Wing Tackle – when one arm is pinned in a tackle.
  • Gang Tackle – when the player in possession is tackled by more than one opponent at the same time.
  • Broken Tackle – when a player is able to break free of a tackle
Illegal Tackles
  • Coathanger – high contact to the head, usually by a stiff arm, which causes a player to land flat on their back.
    The penalty may be a free kick if deemed accidental or a reportable offence which may result in suspension.
  • High Tackle – any tackle which infringes on the opponent's shoulder, neck or head.
    The penalty is a free kick.
  • Trip – a low tackle which will result in a free kick to the opposition
    The penalty is a free kick. Furthermore, tripping or attempting to trip an opponent with the foot or leg will lead to a player being reported.
  • Push in the back – any tackle from behind which forces the player forward, into the ground, or both.
    The penalty is a free kick.
  • Spear Tackle – a tackle in which a player lifts another player into the air and drops them such that they land on their back, head or neck.
    Spear tackles have caused serious injury including spinal damage, dislocations, broken bones in the shoulder or neck, and death.
    It is a reportable offence, and players found guilty face the tribunal and possible suspension with at least a two match ban.
a defensive player
Whose task is to prevent an opposition midfielder from having an impact on the game.
tall timber
a very tall footballer
Collingwood have got some tall timber amongst their forwards.
tap ∼ tapout
knocking the ball out of the contest
See hitout for more information.
colloquialism for a quarter
the break between the third and fourth quarters
thin side
an imaginary area of the ground
That indicates the least space occupied by the greatest number of players. See fat side.
third man up
a player other than the nominal ruckman who unexpectedly enters a ruck contest to effect a hitout
The laws of the game were altered in 2017 to disallow this tactic.
illegal disposal of a ball by hand
Will result in a free kick to the opposition.
see boundary throw-in
time on ∼ time off
time allocated for extra play
Added onto the end of each quarter to compensate for time lost during general play by stoppages.
It is the portion of each quarter allocated for extra play which could not occur due to time being stopped.
Each quarter has a specific length of playing time, which can vary in different forms of the game, but at senior level is 20 minutes. When the umpire stops play for any reason he raises one hand above his head and blows his whistle, called blowing time off. This tells the timekeeper to stop his clock and stop counting down playing time. When the umpire again raises his hand and blows his whistle, called blowing time on, or when the ball is bounced or thrown in, the timekeeper starts his clock again.
torpedo ∼ torp, torpie, screwie, barrel
a kick with the longest distance but the lowest chance of being accurate
A punt kick that rotates the ball in flight around its long axis, which is aligned with the direction the ball is travelling, instead of end over end (as the drop punt does) or not at all (as a typical punt kick does), making the flight of the ball more aerodynamic. If kicked correctly, a torpedo can travel up to 80 metres, while a normal punt will travel less far. It is also more difficult to accurately judge depth, making it difficult to mark.Gordon Rattray, who played his football with the Fitzroy Football Club between 1917 and 1928, is credited as the first player to use the torpedo punt.Also known as screw punt or spiral punt, the kick has become less common since the 1980s, as modern tactics have meant that accuracy has become typically more important than distance in field kicking; as such, coaches now prefer the use of the drop punt, and discouraging the use of the torpedo in general field play as a comparatively low percentage kick.
The kick may still be seen when a player needs additional distance.
colloquialism for possession or disposal
The full-forward got five touches in the last quarter.
umpires call to indicate that a ball was touched by another player after being kicked
Such a kick cannot result in a mark, a goal, or an out‑of‑bounds on‑the‑full free kick.
the loss of possession of the ball to the opposition
bumping an airborne player attempting a mark
With the intention of unbalancing them.
One of a variety of actions which benefit the team.