Each AFL team starts a match with 18 players on the oval, and four interchange players on the bench, who can be changed as many times as desired. While all players are able to be on any part of the pitch at any point in a game, they are normally assigned to a certain area, due to their personal attributes to the overall team. Generally, there is the forward line, back line and the midfield. Players normally form six at the back, in two lines of three, with the same format in the front, and then the other players form the midfield.
While not specifically defined, there are various positions on the field of play:
Is typically a taller player due to it being a defensive position. The main aim of the full back is to stop the full-forward from marking the ball and scoring. They are also the instigator into attacking movements from the back up the pitch, getting the ball away as quickly as possible. The fullbacks usually kick the ball back into play after a point has been scored.
The back pocket is an area on the field deep in the defence, and the players based here are recognised by their hardness, and need to have good spoiling skills. Back pockets normally play on the forward pockets.
Is usually tall, fast and strong, and is key to a strong defence. Centre half-backs come one-on-one against the centre half forwards and often try to keep them out of the game.
Similar position to the back pocket, although is traditionally a slightly more attacking player, who rebounds the ball out.
In the midfield there is the centre and two wingmen. The centre normally attains the ball, links the defence and attack and can normally handle the ball well with both sides of the body. The two wingmen, who are on the left and right side have the same type of ability as the centre, but need to have more stamina, running up and down the flanks.
The most demanding position on the oval, the centre half-forward needs to have good marking skills, strength, stamina and be of a tall build.
Standing just wide of the centre half-forward, the half-forward flank normally advance the ball along the flanks, and is not regarded as a particularly specialist position.
The main target for the ball in the forward line when attacking, and must be strong at one-on-one contests. While they do not run as much as their midfielders, full forwards need to be strong in wrestling off opponents.
The forward pocket is often thought of as a second full forward, or is a player who is fast and agile and can kick well while running. Forward pockets are often relatively short.
There are three different followers roles; the ruck, rover and the ruck-rover. They are called followers because they follow the ball around the ground rather than staying in a certain area on the field. The ruck contests with the opposing ruck at centre-bounces at the start of every quarter and after each goal and are therefore quite tall. The ruck-rover remains below the flight of the ball when the ruck flicks the ball down, and are therefore slightly shorter. The rover receives the ball from the ruck or the ruck-rover, completing the clearance, and is normally the shortest player on the field.
Not highly skilled or in a set position, taggers follow, run with, and mark their selected opponent. They are often used to pin down the opposition’s most threatening player.