Junior Rules

Creating the optimal experience for junior footballers across the country.


The Junior Rules video and Program Handbook detail the rules, structure and environment for the delivery of junior football across the country to create an optimal experience to drive participation and foster a lifelong connection to the game.


This handbook will provide you with a clear understanding of how football should be delivered across all junior and youth age groups to build a structure and environment which provides people a great experience, helping keep more players playing the game for longer and most importantly, increasing people’s enjoyment of footy!


Junior Rules - Under 10's


Junior Rules - Under 11's


Junior Rules - Under 12's


Junior Rules - Under 13's & 14's


Junior Rules - Under 15's


Junior Rules - Under 16 to 18’s Boys


Participation Framework – Under 16 to 18’s Girls


Junior Rules

Competition Age Range: Where possible single age groups. Second option – 2 year age span (8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18).

The AFL encourages leagues, clubs and coaches once an unassailable lead is reached during a game (e.g. 60 points) to appreciate that it serves no purpose to inflict massive losses on teams. In these instances, a mercy rule should be applied that suits the local competition circumstances.

All leagues and competitions to adopt a baseline Game Environment initiative that aims to enhance the experience and environment of participants.

It is recommended that the number of games that a player participates in across all levels and segments of football is monitored (including Talent, Club and School games) and that measures are put in place to support the welfare of the individual player, once a player gets to Under 14’s.

Across Youth Football Competitions it is recommended that players are not playing more than 25 games per season across talent, club and school competitions, and ideally should not be playing more than 2 games per week.

As a game, we all (Governing Bodies, Leagues and Clubs) must provide safe and inclusive environments that provide equal opportunities and access to funding, resources and facilities for women and girls, and that we equally value their contribution to Australian Rules Football.

Frequently Asked Questions

The AFL has undertaken a significant piece of work, informed by data, research and community consultation, to understand the needs of our junior participants to maximise fun, increase involvement, support skill development, and help kids stay connected and love being a part of the game. The result of this work is the new AFL Junior Rules which detail how junior football should be delivered across the country with the aim of keeping thousands of young boys and girls playing Australian rules football for longer and to help clubs across the country attract and retain players to boost participation.

Age-appropriate rules allow kids to be more involved in the game and therefore have more fun. Kids can’t kick as far, run as fast or process the same level of match information as adults, so why make them play by the same rules. Age-appropriate rules allow participants to learn and develop skills whilst experiencing activities relevant to their age, progression, physical development, and maturation level.

Age-appropriate rules achieve two clear outcomes:

  • Increases player involvement which positively impacts a kid’s level of enjoyment.
  • Creates a better match environment that is more aligned to the actual intent of the game.

Yes, the AFL engaged multiple research partners including Deakin University with a focus on understanding how we maximise the fun and enjoyment a kid has when they participate in local footy. Where age-appropriate rules were implemented, Deakin University found that individual player and team involvement increased by more than 35% - that’s more touches for each kid playing our game.

There are several sports that utilise age-appropriate rules to enhance the experience for participants. Some examples of these include:

  • Tennis – junior tennis is played on smaller courts with lighter racquets, lower nets and low compression balls that don’t bounce too high.
  • Soccer – junior soccer is played on smaller fields with reduced numbers, smaller goals, and ball sizes.
  • Basketball – junior basketball play with a smaller ball size and a lowered ring.

Yes, most leagues have started implementing the Junior Rules and we are working with all leagues across the country to implement over the next two years to help to give clarity to clubs and volunteers so there’s consistency in terms of rules and formats for each age group, regardless of where you play.

It is strongly encouraged that leagues implement all of the Junior Rules and not cherry pick certain rules. There are not one or two individual rules which deliver increased involvement and skill development, it’s the totality of the rules which creates the optimal environment to get more boys and girls playing local footy.

Key updates have been made to the following rules, based on community consultation and latest research:

  • Team numbers: Reduced team sizes in junior age groups to help ensure everyone gets a go, with team numbers progressively increasing through the age groups.
  • Ground sizes and zones: Recommended ground sizes suitable for the number of players for each particular age group, to ensure players are never far from the ball and to maximise available space. Multiple games can occur at the same time on a footy oval.
  • Progressive introduction to tackling: Right rules for the right skill level. Contact is gradually introduced to help kids learn and develop as they progress.
  • No scoring in the lowest age groups: Scoreboards, ladders and finals introduced at older age groups to allow the focus to be on giving all team members a chance to participate, rather than winning at all costs.

Educate your coaches and parents on the benefits of implementing the Junior Rules. It’s important your coaches understand why and how age-appropriate rules get kids more engaged in the game, which leads to more enjoyment.