This time next year Port Adelaide’s inaugural AFLW team will be coming to the end of its first pre-season, gearing up for its competition debut in late 2022.

While we eagerly wait to see women represent Port Adelaide for the first time in a national competition, it is a good time to get familiar with the AFLW rules, with some key differences from the men’s competition.

In preparation, has put together five fast facts summarising key differences between the two competitions:

1. Quicker game time

AFLW games are short, sharp and action-packed. The whole game is finished within two hours. Quarters are 15 minutes in length with time on called during stoppages in the last two minutes of each term, so quarters can run approximately 20 minutes. Quarter breaks are 6 minutes long, with a 20-minute break at half time.

In comparison, a men’s AFL game includes 20 minutes of regular time for a quarter, which can be stretched over 30 minutes with additional time. Including breaks, an AFL game runs for approximately two and a half hours.

2. A shorter season

As it currently stands, the AFLW season is played over 10 rounds, plus finals. It is planned that Season Seven (Port Adelaide’s debut season) will get underway in December with the Grand Final set to be held in mid-March before the men’s season gets underway.

This is significantly shorter than the men’s season which is played over 23 rounds, plus finals. The AFL season starts towards the end of March and ends in September. 

3. Fewer players on the field

In an AFLW game, there are 16 players on the field, with the aim of improving the flow of the game and reducing congestionThe team is arranged in a 5-6-5 configuration with 5 forwards, 6 midfielders, and 5 defenders. Given games are played in summer, five players sit on the bench (up from four in the AFL), and there is no cap on the number of interchange rotations.

An AFL men’s game has 18 players on the field. By comparison, the men’s game is 6-6-6, with 6 forwards, 6 midfielders, and 6 defenders.

4. Smaller Ball Size

AFLW matches are played with a size 4.5 Sherrin football made according to league specifications. This is slightly smaller than the men’s competition, which uses a size 5 Sherrin football.

5. No centre bounce

The traditional centre-bounce used in the AFL doesn’t happen in the AFLW competition, because of the smaller ball, umpires throw up the ball in the centre and around the ground.