AFL umpires plan crackdown on holding the ball

AFL: The cry of "ball" is set to ring out with even more regularity at AFL grounds this season, with umpires coach Hayden Kennedy flagging a crackdown on the holding-the-ball rule in respect to "prior opportunity".

Kennedy said the three things umpires would consider in adjudicating the rule were:

A: If a player with the ball is balanced and steady (has had reasonable time)

B: If a player has chosen to take a player on (tries to fend off or evade)

C: If a player has an opportunity to dispose of the ball and chooses not to.

Former St Kilda midfielder Lenny Hayes, who is working with the Laws of Game Committee, has been briefing clubs on the new interpretation.

"More than ever your first option is your best option," he said.

The rules for two-on-one marking contests have also been tightened to ensure contested marking remains a feature of the game.