Scoring (Australia rules football) – AFL Explained

Australia Rules Football, commonly known as AFL (Australian Football League), is a unique and thrilling sport that has captured the hearts of many Down Under. One of the fundamental aspects that make AFL exciting is the scoring system, which differs significantly from other forms of football around the world. In this article, we will dive deep into the scoring in AFL, providing a comprehensive understanding of how points are scored, the various methods involved, and the rules governing this fascinating sport.

The Objective of Scoring

At its core, the objective of scoring in AFL is simple: accumulate more points than the opposing team. However, the intricacies of how these points are obtained are what make the game so intriguing. AFL scoring involves a combination of goals and behinds, with each contributing to a team’s total score.

Goals – The Ultimate Prize

Goals are the primary source of scoring in AFL. They are achieved when a player successfully kicks the ball through the two tall goalposts at either end of the oval field. When a player accomplishes this feat, their team is awarded six points. It’s worth noting that goals can be kicked both during regular play and set shots, such as those awarded for a mark (a clean catch of the ball).

Behinds – The Consolation

While goals are celebrated with gusto, AFL also recognizes efforts that narrowly miss the goalposts. These near misses are called behinds. There are two types of behinds in AFL:

  1. Minor Behind – If the ball passes between one of the goalposts and one of the tall behind posts, it’s counted as a minor behind and is worth one point.
  2. Major Behind – Occasionally, a player might kick the ball through the two tall behind posts, which results in a major behind. This also scores one point.

Scoring Methods

Marks and Set Shots

In AFL, players are often awarded marks for cleanly catching the ball after it has been kicked a certain distance. When a mark is taken within the 50-meter arc from the goal, the player is awarded a set shot at goal. If they successfully kick the ball through the goalposts, it counts as a goal and is worth six points.

Snap Shots

Not all goals in AFL are scored from set shots. Players often find themselves in hectic situations where they need to make quick decisions. In these instances, a snap shot is attempted by kicking the ball without taking the time to set up. If the ball goes through the goalposts, it’s still counted as a goal and earns six points for the team.

Handballs and Tackles

Scoring isn’t limited to kicking the ball. Players can also score points through handballs and tackles. If a player handballs the ball to a teammate who subsequently kicks a goal, the player who executed the initial handball is credited with an assist, earning them an unofficial score contribution. Additionally, a successful tackle in the opponent’s goal area can result in a holding the ball decision, giving the tackling team a set shot at goal.

Penalties and Free Kicks

AFL has a robust set of rules to maintain fairness, and this extends to scoring. If a player from the opposing team commits a foul, the affected team may be awarded a free kick. Depending on the location of the foul, this free kick can result in a set shot at goal, providing an opportunity to score.


Scoring in Australian rules football, or AFL, is a multi-faceted and dynamic process. Goals and behinds are the primary scoring mechanisms, but the game’s complexity allows for various ways to accumulate points. Whether it’s through marks, snap shots, handballs, or free kicks, the AFL scoring system adds an element of unpredictability and excitement to the sport.

Now that you have a better understanding of scoring in AFL, you’re ready to enjoy the game with a deeper appreciation for the skill and strategy involved. So, grab your favorite jersey, watch a match, and cheer for your team as they strive to outscore their opponents in this unique and exhilarating sport!


1. How many points is a goal worth in AFL?

A goal in AFL is worth six points.

2. What is a minor behind in AFL?

A minor behind is worth one point and occurs when the ball passes between a goalpost and a behind post.

3. Can you score points through tackles in AFL?

Yes, successful tackles in the opponent’s goal area can result in a holding the ball decision and a set shot at goal.

4. What is the 50-meter arc in AFL?

The 50-meter arc is a semi-circular line on the field used to determine set shots for goals. If a mark is taken within this arc, the player gets a set shot at goal.

5. How are free kicks awarded in AFL?

Free kicks are awarded in AFL when a player from the opposing team commits a foul. Depending on the location of the foul, it can result in a set shot at goal for the affected team.

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