The first and probably most noticeable difference between AFL and NFL is their names. Australian football goes by the names: footy, Aussie rules. On the other hand, American football is only known as football, a name restricted to the United States as the word 'football' is used to refer to what Americans call soccer the world over.

AFLCredit: AFL -

Player protection

Aussie rules do not require that the players wear protective padding over their bodies. The kit comprises the football helmet; the shoulder pads and knee pads. This is not the case as far as American football is concerned. Any dangerous physical contact such as:

-          pushing the opponent in the back

-          consciously slowing down the game or interfering with an opposing player not in possession of the ball

This is discouraged with free kicks. The NFL specifically stipulates that players on-field must wear protective padding due to the violent nature of the game. This is not to mean that Aussie football is a docile affair, Aussie Football players can jump quite high on or even over each other's backs in order to catch the ball. Concerning the flow of play one can deduce that Australian Football is a much more free flowing affair compared to American Football seeing as the field is re-arranged after every tackle in American football while there are noticeably less stoppages in the former.


An AFL match goes on for four quarters each of twenty minutes. Each quarter has the provision for overtime, so the individual quarters may amount to more than twenty minutes. An NFL game lasts much longer while the average match lasts for about three hours. This is as a result of the frequent stoppages involved in American football.

In American football the offense must advance at least ten yards four times consecutively for the team to be granted another four 'downs' there is no such thing in Aussie rules.


In the National Football League, points are scored when a player crosses the end zone which is located at the located on the extreme end of either side of the football field. This is a huge difference in comparison to Australian football as the scoring method used here is for the player to kick the ball between the posts.

Another significant difference between Aussie football and American football is that in Australian football, a point is awarded for missing the two goal posts to either side while the full six points are awarded for kicking the ball in between the posts. In American football, one only score by moving the ball into the end zone. This results in the awarding of the full points for a touchdown.

In American football, the team on the offense can also score from a field goal. However, a peculiarity of American Football is that the team on the defensive can score points by forcing an offensive turnover and advancing into the offensive team's end zone. This, they can also do by tackling the ball carrier in the offenses end zone (this area is known as the 'safety').

Mode of playing

In American Football the ball eleven players attempt to get the ball (while in their possession) into their opponent's end zone through a series of passes and even kicks. The same is not entirely true in Aussie football, here the players are allowed to kick the ball but cannot throw it. They are only allowed to hit it with their closed fists when passing the ball to their teammates. 

Field specifications

The field that is used to play Australian Football is over a hundred and fifty yards long with a width of a hundred and twenty yards. In American football, the fields' specifications are as follows: the field is a rectangle which is a hundred and twenty yards long with a width of fifty three point three yards.

Furthermore, each team has eighteen players on the pitch. This still leaves a good amount of space for the players to run around in. On average, players may kick the ball conversely; American football has only eleven players on each team. The difference in size of the two pitches allows even the American footballers space to make runs.

Most notably, is the shape of the fields: Aussie rules hold that the field be oval in shape while the playing field in an American football game is rectangular.


Laws of Australian Football;

Official AFL website;