Getting into it: 4 imperative playing aspects for AFL newcomers
Aussie rules is a game that’s constantly on the rise. Every year, more people from across the world get into this exciting sport, finding a love for its energy, fast pace, toughness and work rate. What’s even better is when these footy newcomers decide to give it a go themselves, donning a jersey and playing for their local club or just kicking the ball around with their mates!
If you have a newfound love for the great Aussie game but aren’t exactly sure how to play, that’s all good! Aussie rules is a confusing game for newcomers, especially as it’s a more Australian-centric game.
You might have tried to explain the game to an American and heard the question, “oh, so it’s like rugby?” Well, that’s why we’re here to explain some of the game’s pivotal elements and what makes it such a fun sport to get into!
So, grab your best gear from the Saints, Tigers, Geelong Cats shop (or whoever your team is!) as here are some of the essential elements to the great sport of Aussie rules:
1. The kick
The kick is, of course, the most imperative element of the game. Why? Because the only way you can score points is through correctly kicking the ball through the goal or point posts. The Aussie rules ball must be dropped from the player’s hands onto their foot, with the aim of moving the ball forward so that your team can hopefully score one of those all-important goals.
There are numerous varieties of kicking technique, including the “drop punt” (dropped directly onto the front of the foot); the “banana” (where you angle the ball across the foot to kick in a tight angle), the “torpedo” (a big, barrelling kick aimed at covering as much ground as possible) and more.
Once you have nailed your kicking styles, you are well on the way to becoming a complete player!
2. The hand ball
The hand ball has become more important in recent years, as the game becomes more athletic and tight, meaning there is more need for quick, handpasses to move the ball out of a pack. It sounds simple (all you have to do is knock the ball out of your hand with a close fist), but it’s difficult to master in a game context, especially when you’re only a microsecond away from being tackled by the opposition.
The ability to master the tight contest handpass is a cornerstone of a modern footy club and a team can’t expect much success without the ability to move the ball in this quick-paced manner.
3. The mark
The mark not only allows a team to control the speed of play, but it’s also imperative for setting up forwards to have a shot on goal. A mark is when you kick the ball to a teammate who cleanly catches it without the opposition (or another teammate) touching the ball.
Once you have the mark, you are allowed a short amount of time in which to move the ball along, after which time the umpire will return the game to open play (leaving you open to be tackled!).
4. The tackle
This is probably where people get the idea that the game is like rugby, and it’s an essential part of defence that any strong side has to master. The tackle is as it sounds: you try to grab and wrestle your opponent to the ground in the hope that they will either make a mistake or hold on to the ball for too long, in which case the umpire will call “holding the ball” and give you a free kick.
Tackling is a rough and tough part of the game, and part of what makes it such an exhilarating sport to watch and play!