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The bounce stays

Nick Bowen, AFL Media  November 21, 2017 4:40 PM

Bounce_WebHero.jpg

"It's great that the bounce will kick off AFL football games."

The AFL has confirmed it will stick with tradition and that umpires will continue to bounce the ball at the start of quarters and to restart play after goals.

The bounce has been a long-standing part of League football, but its place in the game has been increasingly questioned in recent years, with some umpires concerned by the physical and mental toll the practice takes on them.

AFL Chairman Richard Goyder and football operations manager Steve Hocking announced on Tuesday afternoon the bounce would live on for the forseeable future. 

Goyder said the bounce was a "unique" and "iconic" part of AFL games and believed most fans would welcome its retention. 

"It's great that the bounce will kick off AFL football games. There's nothing like the roar of the crowd and the expectation that the bounce will start our great game," Goyder said.

Asked whether the decision was a long-term one, Goyder was emphatic: "The bounce is here to stay."

Hocking did not believe umpires would be disappointed with the AFL's decision but acknowledged some would be concerned by how the bounce's retention would affect their performance.

However, Hocking stressed the League would provide "a lot more" support to umpires, both in mental skills training and high-performance programs, to ensure the need to the bounce ball did not detract from their overall performance.

"We will do absolutely everything we can to make sure there is further investment in umpiring," Hocking said.

"If people are wondering how important the umpires are from my point of view, their particular department is the 19th team of the competition. 

"They need further support and on-going care and I'm absolutely committed, as is the organisation (to providing that)." 

Hocking confirmed umpires would retain the discretionary power to recall errant bounces. Umpires were given that power in 2009 and Hocking said there was little thought given to changing the rule.

Since 2013, umpires have thrown the ball up at stoppages around the ground, and that rule remains unchanged.