AskDefine | Define behind

Dictionary Definition

behind adj : having the lower score or lagging position in a contest; "behind by two points"; "the 8th inning found the home team trailing" [syn: behind(p), trailing] n : the fleshy part of the human body that you sit on; "he deserves a good kick in the butt"; "are you going to sit on your fanny and do nothing?" [syn: buttocks, nates, arse, butt, backside, bum, buns, can, fundament, hindquarters, hind end, keister, posterior, prat, rear, rear end, rump, stern, seat, tail, tail end, tooshie, tush, bottom, derriere, fanny, ass] adv
1 in or to or toward the rear; "he followed behind"; "seen from behind, the house is more imposing than it is from the front"; "the final runners were far behind"
2 remaining in a place or condition that has been left or departed from; "when he died he left much unfinished work behind"; "left a large family behind"; "the children left their books behind"; "he took off with a squeal of tires and left the other cars far behind"
3 of timepieces; "the clock is almost an hour slow"; "my watch is running behind" [syn: slow]
4 in or into an inferior position; "fell behind in his studies"; "their business was lagging behind in the competition for customers"
5 in debt; "he fell behind with his mortgage payments"; "a month behind in the rent"; "a company that has been run behindhand for years"; "in arrears with their utility bills" [syn: behindhand, in arrears]

User Contributed Dictionary



Old English behindan


  • /bɪˈhaɪnd/, /bI"haInd/
  • Hyphenation: be·hind


  1. at the back of
  2. to the back of
  3. after, time- or motion-wise
  4. in support of


at the back of
  • Albanian: prapa
  • Czech: za
  • Danish: bag (ved)
  • Dutch: achter, achteraan
  • Ewe: megbe
  • Finnish: takana
  • French: derrière
  • German: hinter
  • Greek: πίσω από (píso apó)
  • Hebrew: (in the back), (behind someone/something)
  • Hungarian: mögött
  • Latin: post
  • Lithuanian:
  • Polish: za
  • Russian: за (za), сзади (szádi), позади (pozadí)
  • Slovene: zadaj, za
  • Tagalog: sa likod
  • West Frisian: efter
to the back of
  • Albanian: prapa
  • Chinese: 後面
  • Czech: za
  • Danish: bag ved, bagefter
  • Dutch: achteraan
  • Ewe: megbe
  • Finnish: taakse
  • French: derrière
  • German: hinter
  • Hebrew: (in the back), (behind someone/something)
  • Hungarian: mögé
  • Kurdish: پشت, پاش
  • Latin: post
  • Polish: z tyłu
  • Russian: за (za)
  • Slovene: nazaj, za
  • Tagalog: sa likod
  • West Frisian: efter
after, time- or motion-wise
  • Albanian: pas
  • Danish: bagefter, efter
  • Dutch: na
  • Ewe: megbe
  • Finnish: takana, jaljessä
  • French: après
  • German: hinter
  • Hebrew:
  • Hungarian: valaminek a végén, hátul
  • Latin: post
  • Polish: po
  • Russian: позади, после
  • Slovene: po, za
in support of


  1. the rear, back-end
  2. bottom, downside
  3. butt, the buttocks
  4. A 1 point score.
    1880: A roar from ten thousand throats go up,For we've kicked another behind. — "The Opening Ball" in Comic Australian Verse, ed. G. Lehmann, 1975. Quoted in G. A. Wilkes, A Dictionary of Australian Colloquialisms, second edition, 1985, Sydney University Press, ISBN 0-424-00113-6.
  5. an 1800s baseball term meaning the catcher


  • Danish: bund
  • Finnish: takapuoli, takamus, peppu, perse
butt, buttocks

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

The laws of Australian football describe the rules of the game of Australian rules football.
The rules were first formed by Tom Wills and the Melbourne Football Club in 1859. The laws significantly pre-date the advent of a governing body for the sport. The first national and international body, the Australasian Football Council, was formed in 1890 to govern Australasian Rules. Since 1990, the rules for the game known as Australian football have been governed by the Australian Football League and the organisation's Laws of the Game committee.

Players, ground and equipment

Eighteen players are permitted to take the field for each team, with an additional four players on an interchange bench (although this number often varies in exhibition and practice matches). The equipment needed to play the game is minimal. As in other kinds of football, players wear boots with stops (known as studs in some regions) in the soles, shorts, and a thick, strong shirt or jumper known as a guernsey.
The game is played with an ellipsoid ball, on a grassed oval. A red ball is used for day matches and a yellow ball is used for night matches.
Four posts are erected at either end of the oval and markings are placed on the ground as shown in the diagram below. They are aligned in a straight line 6.4 metres apart from each other. The size of the ground is not fixed, but must be 135-185m long and 110-155m wide. Lines are drawn on the field to mark
  • the boundary,
  • a 50m wide centre square,
  • two circles in the centre with diameters 3m and 10m and a line dividing the circles in half,
  • a 9×6.4m goal square at each end of the ground,
  • a 15m wide interchange on one flank of the oval.
  • a distance of 50 metres from the goal line (the "Fifty Metre Line"); after introduction of 50m centre square, the "Fifty Metre Lines" were replaced by 45m lines at Sydney Cricket Ground due to the ground's length, to avoid the overlaping with the centre square


The game is a fast-paced combination of speed, athleticism, skill and physical toughness. Players are allowed to tackle the player with the ball and impede opposition players from tackling their teammates (known as shepherding), but not to deliberately strike an opponent (though pushing the margins of these rules is often a substantial part of the game). Like most team sports, tactics are based around trying to get the ball, then — through a combination of running with the ball, hand-passing (punching the ball from the open palm of the other hand) and kicking — deliver it to a player who is within range of goal. Because taking a mark entitles the player to a free kick, a common tactic is to attempt to kick the ball on the full (without bouncing) to a teammate who is within kicking range of goal. In this situation, packs of players often form around the goal square, and the opportunity arises for spectacular high marks (or "speckies"), in which players launch themselves off opponents' backs to mark the ball, high in the air. This particular skill is highly regarded as a spectacle, and an annual "Mark of the Year" is awarded at the end of a season.
Like many other codes of football, the way to score points is to score goals. In Australian Football, there are two types of scores: a goal, and a behind. There are four posts at each end of the ground; the two middle (and taller) posts are the goal posts, and the two outer (and shorter) posts are the behind posts. The area between the goal posts is the goal: kicking the ball between these posts scores a goal which is worth six points. Kicking the ball between a goal and a behind post scores a behind, which constitutes a single point. A behind is also scored if the ball passes between the goal posts, but is not kicked by the attacking team (eg, it comes off the hands of either team, or is kicked by the defending team), or if the ball hits the goal post. (If the ball hits the behind post, the ball is considered to have gone out of bounds.) A rushed behind (also worth one point) is scored when the defending team deliberately forces the ball between any of the posts. This may occur in pressure situations where a defender decides that it is safer to concede one point to the opposing team rather than risk a goal being scored.
A goal umpire judges whether a goal or behind is scored. The goal umpire shows that a goal has been scored by pointing both index fingers in front of him and then waving two flags above his or her head to indicate the score to the other goal umpire. A behind is signalled by pointing one finger, and waving one flag.
An AFL or any other Australian Football result will usually appear like this:
Essendon 17.6 (108) def. Sydney Swans 12.9 (81)
The first number is the number of goals (six points) scored, the second number is the number of behinds (one point) scored, and the third number in the brackets is the total score. The final result is decided on the total score only, there is no 'countback rule' in which the team with the most goals wins.
Some experimental rule changes in the Australian Football League pre-season competition relate to scoring.


The game is controlled by a number of field umpires (at elite level, three), two boundary umpires whose main job is to conduct throw-ins when the ball leaves the field of play and two goal umpires who judge which scores are recorded, and are the official score-keepers of the game. In addition, there is an emergency umpire, who can replace any field umpire who becomes injured. Each of the eight umpires may report players, but only field umpires may pay free kicks.
Historically, all umpires have worn white, but most competitions have changed this now to ensure that umpire uniforms do not clash with team uniforms. Historically, the field umpires and boundary umpires have worn white short-sleeved shirts and white shorts, while goal umpires wore a white coat, white broad-brimmed hat and black trousers. Today, goal umpires wear the same short-sleeved shirts as the other umpires and a peaked cap, but retain the black trousers. Goal umpires also have white flags which are waved to signal scores.

Length of the Game

The length of a game of Australian Football can vary from league to league, but is generally around 15 to 25 minutes per quarter. In the AFL, each quarter runs for 20 minutes excluding stoppage time (also known as time on). The clock is stopped on occasions such as the ball going out of bounds, injuries, goals (or behinds) being kicked, or when the umpire is setting the angle of a free kick on goal. Time is kept by two off-field officials, known as timekeepers, who sound the siren at the start and end of each quarter. The average AFL quarter will thus run from between 27 to 33 minutes, depending on the amount of stoppage time, but can run to 35 minutes if a stretcher injury delays the game.

History of the Laws

The Laws of Australian football was first codified in 1859 as the Melbourne Football Club rules or the Melbourne Rules and expanded to become Victorian Rules in 1866. The game's first true governing body in 1877 was the South Australian Football Association, spawning an era in which local state bodies governed their own rules, and the VFA became an unofficial governing body. Australasian Rules fell under the governance of the Australasian Football Council, the first world governing body for the sport from 1890 to facilitate a growing number of interstate matches which at one point also included leagues and teams from New Zealand. The same body was renamed the Australian National Football Council from 1927 as Australian National Football and had juridiction over several state leagues. Since 1990, governance has been under the jurisdiction of the AFL's Laws of the Game committee. In response to growing amateur competitions around the world, the International Australian Football Council formed in 1995 to govern the game internationally, but its status was officially challenged by the AFL and it was forced to dissolve and the AFL began an International Policy to officially become the world governing body for the sport, with many state and international leagues affiliating with the AFL.

Melbourne Rules of 1859

These ten rules, instituted by Tom Wills and the Melbourne Football Club were originally known as "The laws of the Melbourne Football Club- As played in Richmond Paddock, 1859."
  • The distance between the Goals and the Goal Posts shall be decided upon by the Captains of the sides playing
  • The Captains on each side shall toss for choice of goal, the side losing the toss has the kick off from the centre point between the goals
  • A goal must be kicked fairly between the posts, without touching either of them, or a portion of the person of any player on either side
  • The game shall be played within a space of not more than 200 yards wide, the same to be measured equally on each side of a line drawn through the centres of the two goals, and two posts to be called the "kick off posts" shall be erected at a distance of 20 yards on each side of the Goal posts at both ends, and in a straight line with them
  • In case the ball is kicked "behind" Goal, any one of the side behind whose Goal it is kicked may bring it 20 yards in front of any portion of the space" between" the" kick off posts", and shall kick it as nearly as possible in line with the opposite Goal
  • Any player catching the ball "directly" from the foot may call "MARK" .He then has a free kick no player from the opposite side being allowed to come "inside" the spot marked
  • Tripping and pushing are both allowed -but no hacking-when any player is in rapid motion or in possession of the ball, except in the case provided for in Rule No 6
  • The ball may be taken in hand "only" when caught from the foot, or on the hop (bounce). In "no case" shall it be "lifted" from the ground
  • When a ball goes out of bounds (The same being indicated by a row of posts) it shall be brought back to the point where it crossed the boundary line, and thrown in at right angles with that line
  • The ball, while in play, may under "no circumstances be THROWN"
Although not explicitly mentioned in the rules, each captain was to umpire the game.

Victorian Rules of 1866

Henry C. Harrison's committee redrafted the laws of the game in 1866, which was subsequently agreed upon by the major clubs playing the sport.
The major changes at this time were:
  • Players must bounce the ball every 10 metres when running (this had previously been adopted as one of the Geelong Football Club's compromise rules)
  • Games must be officiated by umpires. Not one but two umpires (independent of the players) must control the match. The closest umpire to the play adjudicated all aspects of the game, including scoring and free kicks.
  • Time limit established for matches
  • Behind posts used for first time
By 1877, state bodies began to govern their own leagues. The first of these was the South Australian Football Association (the precursor to the SANFL). During this time, transfer of official governing body took place after the formation of the Victorian Football Association in 1877. By around 1884, Tasmanian goal umpires had begun to wave white flags to communicate with each other about the scoring of goals or behinds. This was adopted in the Victorian Rules in 1887. In the same year, the umpire were required to bounce the ball instead of throwing it up in the air.

Australasian Rules of 1890

In 1890, delegates from New Zealand were added and the Australasian Football Council was formed to facilitate a growing number of intercolonial matches which at one point also included leagues and teams from New Zealand. Major rule changes during this time were:
  • 1891 - Centre bounce at start of quarters and after every goal; Players required to take up set field positions at start of play.
  • 1897 - 6 points for a goal, 1 for a behind - previously, only goals counted. Push in the back rule introduced to protect players jumping for the ball.
  • 1903 - Boundary umpires appointed at VFL level - 2 each game. (First appeared in Ballarat and charity games in 1891.)
  • 1922 - Free kick for forcing ball out of bounds introduced.

Australian National Football of 1927

The Australasian Football Council was rebranded in 1927 with the absence of New Zealand delegates, the name and state leagues were encouraged to include "National Football League" in their name. (This continues to be used in the case of the SANFL; the now defunct Tasmanian Football League was briefly styled the "TANFL" from the late 1970s to the mid 1980s).
Not all leagues chose to affiliate with the new body, which was seen by some to be increasingly swayed by the increasingly professional aspect of the sport. The Australian Amateur Football Council was formed in 1933. As a result, many amateur leagues interpret the laws of the game with subtle differences.
Although some leagues adopted the name, the rebranding using the name of "Australian National Football" was not entirely successful. The game had failed to grow substantially in New South Wales and Queensland, so to many it was not considered truly national. It was considered too wordy by some and by 1980, many leagues had dropped the name and the code was became informally known as "Australian Football".
The new body had direct jurisdiction over several state leagues. Rule changes in this era included:
  • 1930 - One reserve player introduced.
  • 1939 - Boundary throw-ins re-introduced. Dropping the ball included in holding the ball.
  • 1946 - Number of reserve players increased to two.
  • 1969 - Free kick for kicking ball out of bounds on the full.
  • 1973 - Establishment of centre square and restrictions on positions at centre bounces.
  • 1976 - Second field umpire introduced.
  • 1977 - State of Origin rules introduced to interstate matches.
  • 1978 - Reserve players became interchange players (ie. replaced players could later return to the game).
  • 1986 - 50 metre arc introduced.
  • 1988 - 15 metre penalty becomes 50 metre penalty in the AFL. Emergency umpires empowered to report players.

Australian Football of 1993

In 1993, 3 years after the VFL was rebranded as the AFL, the AFL Commission, under the control of AFL CEO Ross Oakley pushed for the Australian National Football Council to be disbanded. The league successfully argued that the council had become less relevant due to its increasingly successful national club competition. A memorandum of understanding was signed which effectively increased the league's power and cut red tape, allowing the AFL to gain control of the Laws of the Game (forming the official AFL Rules Committee). The AFL also gained control of the State of Origin series. The official name of "Australian Football" was formally adopted at this time.
With control over the game, the AFL began a rush of new rules primarily aimed at "cleaning up" the game's image and eliminating "thuggery". A player tribunal system was introduced to more effectively deliver penalties. 3 field umpires introduced to police the game, and a blood rule was introduced (players must be removed from ground when bleeding, also when having blood on their body/playing uniforms).
The AFL then turned its focus to speeding up the game to make it more attractive to spectators. To do this, the league increased the number of interchange players for their matches from 2 to 3.
By 1994, it became obvious that the increased speed of the game was making it very difficult to umpire. In response, the number of boundary umpires in the AFL was increased to 3. In 1998, the number of interchange players for AFL matches was increased from 3 to 4 to further speed up the game.
In 1999, the AFL the cancelled the State of Origin series, due to a conflict of interest with its own national club competition, effectively putting an end to over 100 years of representative football.


Around 2000, the AFL commission sent a memo to its member leagues that it intended to rebrand the game from "Australian Football" to "AFL" at all levels. The aim was to use the strong brand of the professional league as well as to promote it further. It was argued that the "word" AFL was easier to remember and does not carry connotations of "Australian". This was first promoted heavily in its developing markets, in leagues and governing bodies which the AFL had bought into, and increasingly adopted by the media. As the new governing body, the AFL began to enforce the brand on any newly affiliated leagues. Despite the brand change, the official name of the code remained "Australian Football". The move has attracted criticism, particularly from amateur leagues and bodies in Australia, which continue to use the formal name.
The league began using its pre-season competition as a test-bed for experimental new rules.
In 2003, the AFL forced the dissolution of the International Australian Football Council (formed in 1995) to become world governing body for the sport and in 1994 released its first official International Policy. In the same year, the focus of the commission shifted to stemming an increase in serious knee injuries. As a result, the centre circle was introduced for ruck contests.
In 2006, the AFL announced its intention to further speed up the game and reduce stoppages with the aim of enhancing the game as a spectacle. A sweeping set of rules which was highly criticised. It introduced timed set shots, which was by some to be in response to players such as Matthew Lloyd and Brendan Fevola taking minutes to prepare for kicking their goals. The AFL introduced 50 metre penalties for "scragging" (attempting to deliberately hold play up by grabbing them) after marks and made it unnecessary for players to wait for the flag waved after a behind to kick the ball back into play. In AFL matches, a bucket with balls was introduced behind the goals. Many viewed this rule to be "borrowed" from International rules football, as members of the AFL committee expressed their fondness for this brand of football, and fans labelled it the "Gaelic Rule". The AFL attracted wide criticism from these rule changes, particularly that it was losing touch with grassroots leagues by introducing rules that are increasingly costly to implement at lower levels.
In 2007, the AFL began introducing rules aimed attracting more juniors by reducing the forceful contact and aggression in the game. It caused controversy with the "hands in the back" rule. Zero tolerance was given for players putting hands on the back of a player in a marking contest. It was argued that this was simply a stricter interpretation of a rule which had been laxed over the decades. The league attempted to reduce head injuries by introducing new rules on bumping, including severe penalties for bumping of players with their head over the ball. The AFL also attracted criticism from many fronts due to the increasing meddling with the rules and that the game was becoming increasingly "soft". Many attribute the AFL's recent spate of rule changes and interest in governing the game worldwide as a knee-jerk reaction to the rise of soccer in Australia, both in participation and the mainstream media following the Socceroos' qualification and subsequent 2006 FIFA World Cup campaign.

AFL Rules Committee

The AFL rules committee or "Laws of the Game" committee currently manage the Laws of the Game. Current members of the committee include former VFL/AFL Kevin Bartlett, Brendon Gale and Michael Sexton. Nathan Buckley was the only current player on the committee, however he controversially resigned due to apparent disagreement with the frequent changes made by the committee, citing that he did not want his name to be associated with the changes.
The committee has managed to make large changes to the game in recent years through the introduction of "interpretations", unofficial rules which are enforced by AFL umpires manager Jeff Gieschen.
As well as changing the rules, the Australian Football League has the use of its own name, "AFL" as the name for the sport of Australian rules football. This began with the rebranding of regional governing bodies that the AFL controls and is now being adopted by other governing bodies under the advice of the AFL.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

after, after time, afterpart, afterpiece, afterward, arrested, back, back door, back of, back seat, back side, back to back, backside, backward, behind the scenes, behind time, behindhand, belatedly, below, beyond, bottom, breech, butt, buttocks, by and by, can, checked, croup, crupper, deep into, delayed, derriere, detained, fanny, far on, following, haunches, heel, heinie, hind end, hind part, hindhead, impeded, in arrear, in arrears, in back of, in support of, in the background, in the rear, infra, late, later, later than, latterly, nates, next, none too soon, occiput, past, posterior, postern, rear, rear end, rearward, retarded, reverse, rump, set back, since, slow, slowed down, stern, subsequent to, subsequently, supporting, tail, tail end, tailpiece, tandem, tardy
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