Australian Football has developed a unique and rich terminology.
This list is an alphabetical glossary of terms, jargon and slang.
- zone defence
- a tactic used from the kick in after a behind is scored
It was introduced into Australian football in the late 1980s by Robert Walls and subsequentially by Essendon Football Club coach Kevin Sheedy.
It revolutionized the game. The side in opposition to the player kicking in places their forward players, including their full-forward and center half forward, in evenly spaced zones in the back 50-meter arc. This makes it easier for them to block leading players and forces the kick in to be more precise, in effect increasing the margin for error which can cause a turnover and another shot at goal. As a result, the best ways to break the zone are for the full-back to bomb it long (over 50 meters), often requiring a low percentage torpedo punt, or to play a short chipping game out of defense and then to switch play as opposition players break the zone. The latter has negated the effectiveness of the tactic since the 1990s.
- originally called district football
Zoning (originally called district football, or electorate football in South Australia) refers to a system whereby a geographical area is reserved exclusively for one club. Zoning has been historically an important part of most major Australian football leagues, being usually justified as necessary to ensure a reasonably equitable competition.
Although the more even distribution of top country players at the beginning of the 1970s was such that the SANFL and WAFL quickly adopted country zoning, its gains were very short-lived.. Carlton, Richmond, Hawthorn and North Melbourne won every VFL premiership between 1967 and 1983, a period of dominance not known in any other era, as strong country zones gave these clubs lists more powerful than any club could build without zoning. In contrast, the clubs with the worst zones, Melbourne and South Melbourne, took eight wooden spoons between them in that period. South Melbourne played only two finals in 1970 and 1977, whilst Melbourne did not play a final until 1987, after country zoning had been abolished. Some writers on VFL history have argued that the inequalities created by country zoning were much greater than those created by club wealth beforehand and that some clubs lost many players they would have gained were players able to move to the club nearest to them. Most significantly, St Kilda’s return to the bottom of the ladder in the mid‑1970s after a period of success from 1961–1973 has been related to its loss of many players to Hawthorn from the Frankston area, which was already becoming part of metropolitan Melbourne when country zoning began. Defenders of country zoning have argued that it provided greater incentive for VFL clubs to look for players in country leagues, and that its abolition has meant that this incentive has been lost.
- zone off
- a defensive technique
A defender who leaves some space from their opponent.
This is contrary to the normal defensive style of man-on-man.