THE BIGGEST change to the way games are umpired this season is that there will be no change at all.
The AFL has introduced nine rule tweaks or interpretation changes – such as stricter approaches to deliberate rushed behinds and deliberate out of bounds – over the past three years.
But the League has resisted the urge to tinker with the game ahead of the 2018 season.
"The beauty about this year is that there have been (no changes), which is great for the players and great for the umpires," AFL umpires coach Hayden Kennedy said on Wednesday.
"Last year we spent a hell of a lot of time in the pre-season coaching new rules and we haven't done that this year, so we've been able to spend time on other things."
Kennedy has toured the country with his annual presentation to AFL clubs over the past month.
In the absence of new interpretations, he has focused on educating players and coaches on the contentious areas of deliberate rushed behinds, designated rucks, encroaching on the protected area and the holding the ball rule.
Umpiring representatives had lobbied for the bounce to be scrapped last year, citing injury concerns and recalled bounces that slow the play down.
But new head of football Steve Hocking ruled in favour of keeping the traditional bounce.
"It's a skill that needs to stay in the game and we expect our umpires to be bouncing it at the level that is required in AFL football," Kennedy said.
"I imagine it will be just the same as it has been in years past - if we get injuries then we'll deal with it.
"(But) it's a very low percentage of bounces that are actually recalled.
"They actually bounce at around 96 per cent where the two ruckmen can get to the ball, which is a phenomenal effort when you think about it."
The AFL will hire a strength and conditioning coach to help avoid shoulder injuries that can occur when bouncing the ball.