Basic information about Australian football game

Australian football is one of the most famous sport in Australia with the highest spectator attendance and TV viewership in the nation. It is also affectionately known as footy or Aussie rules. Though it originated in Australia, other countries such as New Zealand, Japan, United States of America and East Timor are also gaining interest in the sport. To help you understand and enjoy this game, here is some basic information about it.

The gameplay

Essentially, Australian football game is played by two teams each with eighteen players and four interchange. The action of the game continues through four quarters with each quarter lasting 20 minutes and there is no limit to how many changes a team can make.

The aim of this game is to score as many goals as possible by kicking the ball through the opposing team’s goalpost and to prevent the opposing team from doing the same by tackling and obstructing. The team with the highest score at the end of the match wins unless there is a draw.

Australian football games played during the day use a red ball while night time matches use a yellow ball.

Types of Umpires

Each Australian football game is overseen by four types of umpires who are responsible for starting the match and ensuring that the rules of the game are followed. They include:

1. Field umpires

Each match has three field umpires who are positioned within the field. Their main role is to control the general play; they are the only type of umpires allowed to initiate stoppages in play and award free kicks. At the start of the game, a field bounces the ball in the center as well as after a goal is scored and at the start of each quarter.

2. Goal umpires

Each match has two goal umpires positioned at each goalpost. They are responsible for adjudicating all matters relating to goals.

3. Boundary umpires

This type of umpires indicate when the ball leaves the field of play and determines if it has done so on bounce or on the full.

4. Emergency umpires

An emergency umpire is provided as a replacement in case of an injury.

Rules for moving the ball

Australian football players can use any body part to move the ball but the most common techniques are:

  • Running with the ball
  • Handballing
  • Kicking

When running with the ball, a player must perform a running bounce after at every 15 metres failure to which a free kick is award to the opposing team. Due to the shape of the ball, the running bounce requires a lot of practice. For this reason, most players opt to touch the ground with the ball which is allowed but it slows momentum creating an opportunity to be tackled.

When handballing, the ball should not just be handed to a teammate. Instead, it should be punched from one hand with the alternate fist.


A goal is scored when the ball is kicked the between the goalposts. Kicking it through the middle posts earn the scoring team 6 points while one point is awarded when the ball goes through the behind post (smaller post) and the goalpost (taller post).