AFL Rules: Free Kicks

15. FREE KICKS

15.1 INTERPRETATION

15.1.1 Spirit and Intention of Awarding Free Kicks
It is the spirit and intention of these Laws that a Free Kick shall be awarded to:
(a) ensure that a Match is played in a fair manner;
(b) provide to a Player, who makes obtaining possession of the football their sole objective, every opportunity to obtain possession;
(c) protect Players from sustaining injury; and
(d) a Player who executes a Correct Tackle which results in an opponent failing to dispose of the football in accordance with these Laws.

15.1.2 Awarding Free Kicks
In addition to any other circumstances described elsewhere in these Laws, a Free Kick shall be awarded to or against a Player, as the case may be, when a field Umpire considers that any of the circumstances set out in this Law 15 occur, irrespective of whether the football is in play. Unless otherwise stated in these Laws, a Free Kick shall be taken where it is awarded or where the football is at the time, whichever is the greater penalty against the offending Team.

15.1.3 When a Free Kick May be Awarded
A Free Kick may be awarded when the football is or is not in play. For the avoidance of doubt, a Free Kick may be awarded:
(a) if an infringement occurs on the Playing Surface before the commencement of a quarter, in which case the Free Kick shall be taken at the Centre Circle or where the infringement occurred, whichever is the greater penalty against the offending Team; and
(b) after a score has been recorded or play has come to an end, in the circumstances described in Laws 12.4, 12.5 and 12.6.

15.1.4 Effect of Free Kick
A Free Kick means that possession of the football is given to a Player of the Team who is awarded the Free Kick, after which play shall continue in accordance with Law 16.

15.2 FREE KICKS RELATING TO POSSESSION OF THE FOOTBALL

15.2.1 In Possession of the Football
A Player is in possession of the football if, in the opinion of the field Umpire:
(a) the Player is holding or otherwise has control of the football;
(b) the Player is in the act of bouncing the football; or
(c) the Player dives or lies on top of or drags the football underneath their body.

15.2.2 Remaining in Possession and Bouncing the Football
(a) A Player may remain in possession of the football for any length of time:
(i) unless the Player is Correctly Tackled by an opponent;
(ii) provided the Player complies with Law 15.2.2(b).
(b) Where a Player is moving whilst in possession of the football, the Player must bounce or touch the football on the ground at least once every 15 metres, irrespective of whether such Player is running in a straight line or otherwise. For the purposes of this Law, a Player shall be deemed to be in possession of the football during the period when the Player handballs the football to themself and regains possession without the football touching the ground.
(c) A field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against a Player if they are of the opinion that a Player has contravened Law 15.2.2(b).

15.2.3 Holding the Football — Prior Opportunity/No Prior Opportunity
Where the field Umpire is satisfied that a Player in possession of the football:
(a) has had a prior opportunity to dispose of the football, the field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against that Player if the Player does not Kick or Handball the football immediately when they are Correctly Tackled; or
(b) has not had a prior opportunity to dispose of the football, the field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against that Player if, upon being Correctly Tackled, the Player does not Correctly Dispose or genuinely attempt to Correctly Dispose of the football after being given a reasonable opportunity to do so.
(c) Except in the instance of a poor bounce or throw, a Player who takes possession of the football while contesting a bounce or throw by a field Umpire or a boundary throw in, shall be regarded as having had prior opportunity.
(d) has driven their head into a stationary or near stationary opponent, the Player shall be regarded as having had prior opportunity.

15.2.4 Application — Specific Instances where Play shall Continue
For the avoidance of doubt, the field Umpire shall allow play to continue when:
(a) a Player is bumped and the football falls from the Player’s hands;
(b) a Player’s arm is knocked which causes the Player to lose possession of the football;
(c) a Player’s arms are pinned to their side by an opponent which causes the Player to drop the football, unless the Player has had a prior opportunity to genuinely attempt to Correctly Dispose of the football, in which case Law 15.2.3 (a) shall apply;
(d) a Player, whilst in the act of Kicking or Handballing, is swung off-balance and does not make contact with the football by either foot or hand, unless the Player has had a prior opportunity to Correctly Dispose of the football, in which case Law 15.2.3 (a) shall apply; or
(e) a Player is pulled or swung by one arm which causes the football to fall from the Player’s hands, unless the Player has had a prior opportunity to Correctly Dispose of the football, in which case Law 15.2.3 (a) shall apply.

15.2.5 Diving on Top of the Football
Where a Player is in possession of the football by reason of diving on top of or dragging the football underneath their body, the field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against that Player if they do not immediately knock the football clear or Correctly Dispose of the football when Correctly Tackled.

15.2.6 Football Held to the Body of a Player
(a) The field Umpire shall bounce the football when a Player, in the act of applying a Correct Tackle, holds the football to the body of the Player being Tackled or the football is otherwise pinned to the ground, unless the Player being Tackled has had a prior opportunity to Correctly Dispose of the football, in which case Law 15.2.3 (a) shall apply.
(b) If the player being tackled is not making a genuine attempt to Correctly Dispose of the football 15.2.3(b) shall apply.

15.3 FREE KICKS RELATING TO DISPOSAL OF THE FOOTBALL

15.3.1 Correct Disposal
A Player Correctly Disposes of the football if the Player Kicks or Handballs the football.

15.3.2 Incorrect Disposal and Payment of Free Kick
When the football is in play, a Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player who hands the football to another Player or throws the football.

15.4 FREE KICK — PERMITTED AND PROHIBITED PHYSICAL CONTACT

15.4.1 Correct Tackle or Correctly Tackled
(a) For the purposes of these Laws, a Player executes a tackle correctly if:
(i) the Player being held is in possession of the football; and
(ii) that Player is held (either by the body or playing uniform) below the shoulders and above and including the knees.
(b) For the avoidance of doubt, a tackle may be executed correctly by holding a Player from the front, side or behind, provided that a Player held from behind is not pushed in the back.

15.4.2 Shepherd
A Shepherd is using the body or arm to push, bump or block:
(a) a Player who does not have possession of the football and who is no further than 5 metres away from the football at the time when the push, bump or block occurs; and
(b) where such contact is otherwise not Prohibited Contact under Law 15.4.5.

15.4.3 Permitted Contact
Other than the Prohibited Contact identified under Law 15.4.5, a Player may make contact with another Player:
(a) by using their hip, shoulder, chest, arms or open hands provided that the football is no more than 5 metres away from the Player;
(b) by pushing the other Player with an open hand in the chest or side of the body provided that the football is no more than 5 metres away from the Player;
(c) by executing a Correct Tackle;
(d) by executing a Shepherd provided that the football is no more than 5 metres away from the Player; or
(e) if such contact is incidental to a marking contest and the Player is legitimately Marking or attempting to Mark the football.

15.4.4 Charge or Charging
(a) A Charge means an act of colliding with an opposition Player where the amount of physical force used is unreasonable or unnecessary in the circumstances, irrespective of whether the Player is or is not in possession of the football or whether the Player is within 5 metres of the football.
(b) Without limiting the general application of Law 15.4.4 (a), a Charge occurs when a Player unreasonably or unnecessarily collides with an opposition Player:
(i) who is not within 5 metres of the football;
(ii) who, although within 5 metres of the football, is not in the immediate contest for the football and would not reasonably expect such contact;
(iii) who is attempting to Mark the football or who has Marked the football or been awarded a Free Kick;
(iv) after that Player has disposed of the football;
(v) who is Shepherding another Player on their Team; or
(vi) before the football is brought into play.

15.4.5 Prohibited Contact and Payment of Free Kick
A field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against a Player where they are satisfied that the Player has made Prohibited Contact with an opposition Player.
A Player makes Prohibited Contact with an opposition Player if the Player:
(a) makes contact or attempts to make contact with any part of their body with an opposition Player in a manner likely to cause injury;
(i) above the shoulders (including the top of the shoulders or bump to the head); or
(ii) below the knees.
(b) pushes an opposition Player in the back, unless such contact is incidental to a Marking contest and the Player is legitimately Marking or attempting to Mark the football;
(c) holds an opposition Player who is not in possession of the football;
(d) unduly pushes, bumps, blocks, holds an opposition Player or deliberately interferes with the arms of an opposition Player, who is in the act of Marking or attempting to Mark the football;
(e) pushes, bumps, holds or blocks an opposition Player when the football is further than 5 metres away from the opposition Player or is out of play;
(f) pushes, bumps, holds or blocks an opposition Player who is contesting a bounce or throw by a field Umpire or boundary throw in;
(g) charges an opposition Player;
(h) trips or attempts to trip an opposition Player, whether by the use of hand, arm, foot or leg;
(i) kicks or attempts to kick an opposition Player, unless contact is accidentally made whilst the Player is Kicking the football;
(j) strikes or attempts to strike an opposition Player, whether by hand, fist, arm, knee or head;
(k) holds or throws an opposition Player after that Player has disposed of the football;
(l) engaging in rough conduct against an opponent which in the circumstances is unreasonable;
(m) kicking or attempting to Kick the football in a manner likely to cause injury; or
(n) bumps or makes forceful contact to an opponent from front-on when that Player has their head down over the football.
NOTE:
– a Player can bump an opponent’s body from side-on but any contact forward of side-on will be deemed to be front-on;
– a Player with their head down in anticipation of winning possession of the football or after contesting the football will be deemed to have their head down over the football for the purposes of this law.


(o) contesting the football as the Ruck at any bounce, throw up or boundary throw in, makes contact with the opposition Ruck prior to the Football leaving the field or boundary Umpire’s hand. For the avoidance of doubt, where there is uncertainty over who is the designated Ruck, the Ruck for each team will be the person nominated to the Umpire.

15.5 FREE KICKS — RELATING TO UMPIRES

A Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player or Official who:
(a) uses abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene language towards an Umpire;
(b) behaves in an abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene manner towards an Umpire;
(c) intentionally, recklessly or negligently makes contact with an Umpire;
(d) enters the Centre Circle when the field Umpire is bouncing or attempting to bounce the football; or
(e) intentionally, recklessly or negligently engages in conduct which affects, interferes with or prevents an Umpire from performing their duties.

15.6 FREE KICKS — RELATING TO OUT OF BOUNDS

15.6.1 When Awarded
A Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player who:
(a) Kicks the football Out of Bounds on the Full;
(b) in the act of bringing the football back into play after a Behind has been scored, Kicks the football over the Boundary Line without the football first being touched by another Player;
(c) intentionally Kicks, Handballs or forces the football over the Boundary Line without the football being touched by another Player;
(d) having taken the football over the Boundary Line, fails to immediately hand the football to the boundary Umpire or drop the football directly to the ground;
(e) touches the football after the boundary Umpire has signalled that the football is Out of Bounds, except for a Player who has carried the football over the Boundary Line under this Law 15.6.1 or a Player awarded a Free Kick under these Laws; or
(f) hits the football Out of Bounds on the Full from a boundary throw or a field bounce or throw by a field Umpire.

15.6.2 Taking Free Kick
A Free Kick awarded under Law 15.6.1 shall be taken at the point where the football crossed the Boundary Line.

15.7 FREE KICKS — DELIBERATE RUSHED BEHIND

15.7.1 When Awarded
A Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player from the defending Team who intentionally Kicks, Handballs or forces the football over the attacking Team’s Goal Line or Behind Line or onto one of the attacking Team’s Goal Posts. In assessing whether a Free Kick should be awarded under this Law, the field Umpire shall give the benefit of the doubt to the Defender.

15.7.2 Taking Free Kick
A Free Kick awarded under Law 15.7.1 shall be taken from the middle of the goal square if it crossed the Goal Line or at the point where the football crossed the Behind Line or from the relevant Goal Post.

15.8 FREE KICKS — SHAKING GOAL POST

15.8.1 Awarding Free Kick
Unless Law 15.8.3 applies, a Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player or Official who intentionally shakes a goal or behind post (either before or after a Player has disposed of the football).

15.8.2 Taking Free Kick
The following shall apply to a Free Kick awarded under Law 15.8.1:
(a) if a Free Kick is awarded against a Player or Official of the defending Team and a Goal is not scored, the Player from the attacking Team who was about to or who has Kicked for Goal, shall take the Free Kick at the centre of the Goal Line;
(b) if the Free Kick is awarded against a Player or Official of the attacking Team, the Player on the defending Team who was nearest to the position from where the football will be or has been Kicked, shall take the Free Kick from that position. For the avoidance of doubt, any Goal or Behind which would have been recorded in favour of the attacking Team but for the awarding of the Free Kick to a Player of the defending Team, shall not be recorded.

15.8.3 Goal Scored
If a Player or Official of the defending Team contravenes Law
15.8.1 but a Goal is still scored, the field Umpire shall not award a Free Kick. In such cases, the field Umpire shall signal “All Clear” and a Goal shall be recorded.

15.9 FREE KICKS — REPORTABLE OFFENCES

(a) Unless Law 15.9(b) applies, a field Umpire shall award a Free Kick against a Player or Official who is reported for a Reportable Offence.
(b) Unless otherwise determined by a field Umpire, where a Player(s) or Official(s) from both Teams are reported for conduct arising from the same incident, the field Umpire shall allow play to continue or if that is not practicable, recommence play by bouncing the football.

15.10 FREE KICKS — GENERALLY

15.10.1 When Awarded
A Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player or a Team where the field Umpire is of the opinion that:
(a) the Player is engaging in Time Wasting;
(b) an Official of the Team or such other person of the Team who may from time to time be permitted onto the Playing Surface, intentionally, recklessly or negligently interferes with the football, a Player of the opposition Team, an Umpire or general play;
(c) a Player has lifted a Player or climbed on the shoulders of a Player from the same Team. This Free Kick shall be taken by a Player from the opposing Team where the infringement occurred or where the football is at the time of the infringement, whichever is the greater penalty against the offending Team;
(d) a Free Kick to be awarded against a Player who uses abusive, insulting, threatening or obscene language and/or gesture;
(e) a Player has contravened the provisions of Law 11.3.5 (a); or
(f) a Player has engaged in misconduct.

15.10.2 Taking Free Kick
Where a Free Kick is awarded against a Team because of the conduct of an Official of the Team, the Free Kick shall be taken by the Player of the opposition Team who is closest to where the infringement occurred or where the football is located, whichever is the greater penalty against the offending Team.

15.11 FREE KICKS AFTER DISPOSAL

(a) Subject to Law 15.11(b), where Prohibited Contact is made against a Player who has disposed of the football or against a Player who is Shepherding a Player who has disposed of the football, a Free Kick shall be awarded to that Player’s Team and shall be taken by a Player of that Team who is nearest to the location where the football touches the ground, a Player or crosses the Boundary Line, as the case may be. If taking the Free Kick at this location will penalise the Team awarded the Free Kick, the Free Kick shall be taken by the Player against whom and at the location where Prohibited Contact was made.
(b) If a field Umpire is satisfied that a Player tackles, holds or makes high contact against a Player who has disposed of the football for the purpose of preventing that Player from taking part in the next act of play or being able to run to the next contest then, if it is a greater penalty than would otherwise be provided by Law 15.11(a), the field umpire shall award a free kick and a 50 metre penalty to that Player’s team.

15.12 FREE KICKS — STADIUM ROOFS

15.12.1 Payment of Free Kick
Where a Player intentionally, recklessly or negligently Kicks or causes the football to hit any part of a stadium roof’s structure which is above the Playing Surface, the field Umpire shall award a Free Kick to the nearest Player on the opposing Team at the position on the Playing Surface nearest to where the football hit the roof’s structure.

15.12.2 Accidental Contact
If a Player accidentally Kicks or causes the football to hit any part of a stadium roof’s structure, including attachments, the football shall be out of play and the following shall apply:
(a) if the football hits any roof beams which run the length of the Playing Surface along a wing, the boundary Umpire shall upon instruction by a field Umpire, throw the football back into play from a position on the Boundary Line nearest to where the football hit the roof beam; or
(b) if the football hits any other part of the stadium roof’s structure which is above the Playing Surface, the field Umpire shall bounce the football at the position on the Playing Surface nearest to where the football hit the stadium roof’s structure.