The NAB AFL Auskick Rules are designed to ensure that participation in the game falls within the developmental philosophy of the program.
Why NAB AFL Auskick rules are modified
The AFL Auskick policy, designed by the best experts available to the AFL, aims to:
- Ensure a fun and safe environment
- Maximise participation, skill learning and development
- Offer rules and procedures appropriate to the children involved
- Involve appropriately accredited coaches
- Provide a logical, sequential transition from introductory level through to competitions at clubs and/or schools
- Be managed by the community
Playing ground, time and equipment The AFL Auskick policy is committed to a reduced playing area, playing time and suitably modified equipment to take the emphasis away from endurance and allow for greater skill development.
With smaller grounds, the players are encouraged to concentrate on the game, because the ball is never far away. Field sizes recommended are the optimum size and flexibility may be required to make best use of specific circumstances such as space available. In some cases, smaller fields may be more appropriate.
Teams with fewer numbers are also used in AFL Auskick Rules. This allows individual players to have more frequent and longer contact with the ball. It also allows for grading and matching of opponents and teams.
With fewer players, play is more open, even when games are played on smaller ovals. Due to the openness of the game and the fact that fewer players are contesting the ball at any one time, marking and other basic skills can be better developed.
The spirit of the game is to give all available players the chance to play football.
- Where difficulty occurs in fielding full numbers, both coaches must agree to even team numbers
- Excess players on one team should be distributed to the opposition team if it is unable to field the required numbers
- Coaches should consider modifying the numbers per side to ensure all players participate. For instance, if planning a nine-a-side game, but only 12 players are available, they should play a six-a-side game. If 30 players are available, they could simultaneously play a six-a-side and nine-a-side game.
Use of zones
Zones restrict “pairs” of players to an area and prevent ball-chasing and subsequent congestion where all players congregate around the ball.
Zones encourage players to think about their positioning on the ground prior to being allowed the freedom to move wherever they wish, as will be the case later.
Zones also enable the grouping of players of similar size and ability within a zone. Zones are not intended to stop the flow of the game.
Common sense should prevail when deciding if players run into a different zone.
Rotation of players
Children will experience playing in a variety of positions. The rotation of players through different positions and the interchange bench forms a solid foundation for the development of all skills and adds variety and interest to games. Rotation through the zones applies to all games played by 5 to 8 and 9 to 10-year-olds.
It is critical that coaches know positions and the basic elements of positional play and are able to teach them to the children as they develop. With larger sized teams (12 and 15-aside), teaching positional play within zones is a learning outcome that will help children with the rules applying to ball-ups, and prepare them for unrestricted positional play in the 11 to 12-year-old games.
It will also make the umpires’ job easier in instructing players to stay in their correct positions. (AFL Auskick coach education programs will ensure coaches are appropriately prepared to do this effectively. For more information on AFL Auskick coach education courses contact your state coaching manager).
Out of bounds
The fact that there are no boundary throw-ins means that the number of opportunities to kick the ball is increased, congestion is reduced and the ball is kept in motion.
The AFL Auskick Rules aim to provide players with the best possible conditions to learn, develop and improve their kicking and handballing by reducing the congestion and pressure on the player in possession.
Tackling skills are introduced sequentially towards the end (11 to 12-year-olds) of the NAB AFL Auskick program.
Players will develop evasive skills and be less likely to incur injury. Children will have increased confidence to attempt to gain possession of the ball.
To ensure the safety of the tackler, players are not allowed to barge or chop past an opposition player at any level. Fending off with an open hand to the body (not above the shoulders or in the back), while generally not taught in the NAB AFL Auskick program, is allowed for 11 to 12-year-olds.
At the appropriate time, the AFL Auskick policy allows for the skills of knocking and stealing the ball from an opponent. Contests to gain possession of the ball are part of the game.
The AFL Auskick policy awards marks no matter how far the ball has travelled to reduce congestion and encourages players to attempt to catch the ball. It also recognises that many youngsters cannot kick the ball over 10 metres.
The AFL Auskick policy allows a player to have only one bounce (two for the higher age group) when in possession of the football to prevent players running excessive distances with the ball. This encourages disposal skills and team play.
Kicking off the ground
Although it might be argued that this is a skill in itself, the AFL Auskick policy disallows it, primarily to enhance the development of possession and disposal skills by making players gain control of the ball.
This will encourage players to go for the ball confidently without worrying about sustaining injury to their hands.
Coach on the ground
AFL Auskick Rules allow the coach to be on the ground to provide encouragement and praise when warranted or explain errors as they occur.
It is the intent of the AFL Auskick policy to enable teaching and feedback while the game continues. In the older age group the coach is to remain on the sidelines and use a runner to deliver the teaching point or message.
Order-off and distance penalties
Order-off rules and distance penalties are normally used to reinforce the spirit of the game. They are generally invoked for such things as bad language, poor sportsmanship, disputing umpires’ decisions and hindering opposition players who have been awarded a mark or free kick (distance penalties).
Bad language, poor sportsmanship and disputing umpires’ decisions should be actively discouraged by those responsible for teaching the game (coaches and umpires).
In line with accepted teaching principles, and if coaches are doing the job of an AFL Auskick coach appropriately, it should be possible to deal with issues that arise in this area without resorting to the orderoff rule.
Immediate counselling by the umpire and the coach on the field is reccomended. Distance penalties can be applied for breaches in the 9 to 10 and 11 to 12-year-old games, but are not mandatory.
The emphasis should still be on the process and, while the penalty can be used as a deterrent, the ability of the coach and umpire to teach during the game should be a priority.
Roles of AFL Auskick coaches and umpires
AFL Auskick coaches and umpires have key roles in ensuring the success of games played in the program.
The competence with which they go about the task will determine whether they achieve the objectives of fun, safety, participation, learning and development.
Coaches have a primary role in teaching players the skills of the game and how to play to the rules, while umpires have a primary role in administering and teaching the rules.
Spirit of the game
Umpires should instruct players and coaches on rules and procedures. At the end of the game, players, coaches and umpires should all shake hands and umpires should be acknowledged and thanked for their participation.
In the interest of learning and development, coaches should make changes in one-sided games to create reasonable contests.
Usually one-sided games result in little learning or enjoyment for either team, or for their individual members, and they do not achieve NAB AFL Auskick objectives.
Recommended changes include ensuring good match-ups of players and different rotations. Both coaches should work together to manage the game in this respect.