Deliberate out of bounds

In Australian rules football, deliberate out of bounds is a rule which results in a free kick against the offending team.

Official rules

The official rulebook used by the Australian Football League, the Laws of Australian Football, as of 2016, states:

"A Free Kick shall be awarded against a Player who:...
(c) intentionally Kicks, Handballs or forces the football over the Boundary Line without the football being touched by another Player".

Rule history

The deliberate out of bounds rule has a long history in Australian rules football, dating back to the 19th century. Prior to the 1883 season, a rule was introduced to award a free kick against a player who deliberately kicked the ball out of bounds from a kick-in after a behind.[1] This was extended to putting the ball out of bounds from an in-play situation at the intercolonial conference prior to the 1886 season. At this time, the rule read almost identically to its present form, stating that a free kick shall be given when a player wilfully kicks or forces the ball out of bounds while in play.[2] The rules were introduced largely to put an end to the disliked strategy of kicking the ball out of bounds as a means of timewasting.[3]

The rule has existed in the Laws of the Game more or less unchanged ever since – with the exception of the period from 1925 until 1938, during which time the basic out-of-bounds rules provided for a free kick to always paid against the last player to touch the ball before it went out of bounds whether it was deliberate or not, making the specific provisions of the rule redundant. Although the rule has been largely unchanged, the strictness of its application has varied over time.

A specific directive to apply the rule more strictly was introduced for the 2016 AFL season in an attempt to reduce the number of boundary throw-ins.[4][5]


  1. "Goal Post" (2 May 1883). "Football Notes". The Sportsman. Melbourne, VIC. p. 2.
  2. "Football". The Sportsman. Melbourne, VIC. 2 December 1885. p. 6.
  3. "Goal Post" (15 August 1883). "Football gossip". The Sportsman. p. 4.
  4. "Fans Struggling With New Deliberate Out Of Bounds Rule". Triple M. 27 March 2016. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
  5. McClure, Sam (13 April 2016). "AFL rules: why I hate the new 'out of bounds' interpretation". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 23 May 2016.
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