FORMER West Coast coach John Worsfold has floated the idea of zones to restrict player movement as a solution to increased congestion in the game.
Worsfold, now a member of the AFL Laws of the Game committee, suggested that a rule where two or three players from both sides must remain in either half of the ground at any one time, could be a worthwhile experiment in the pre-season competition.
Worsfold admitted to concern about the spectacle of the game when all 36 players flooded into one half at inside-50 stoppages, removing space for attacking sides and discouraging free-flowing ball movement for defensive sides trying to rebound.
"They talk about zones," Worsfold told Channel Seven on Monday night.
"There are suggestions around players holding their position more. So maybe two or three players from each side always have to be in either half of the ground so they can't all cross over and get into one half."
Worsfold suggested it could be relatively easily policed, given the AFL already utilises four boundary umpires. He suggested one boundary umpire could simply remain at halfway and scan an imaginary line, in the same manner as a linesman in soccer, to see if both sides had enough players in the vacant half of the ground.
He also said the penalty was simple.
"A free kick paid," Worsfold said.
"The rules at the moment say the free kick is taken where the best advantage is, either where the ball is or where the infringement takes place. So it would be at the halfway mark of the ground if that was what the rule was."
However, the 2006 premiership coach said plenty of consultation was needed before any trial.
"The first thing to do would be get a lot of input from all of the people on the laws of the game committee about what coaches would do if this was the case," Worsfold said.
"How would it possibly be interpreted by clubs, and how would they try and exploit it, because that's what coaches do. They say 'these are the rules, let's get it in our favour more than the opposition if we can find a way'.
"So there would a lot of a discussion around whether we'd ever like to see anything like that in the game. But as we know the pre-season competition is there to experiment with things and that may be something that could be looked at."
Despite acknowledging the debate, Worsfold said zones were problematic for Australian football because they removed one of the game's great qualities - absolute freedom of movement for players.
"We don't ever want to see where a player won't lead for the ball because he doesn't want to cross into the zone like we do see in netball or Auskick, where they run to an invisible line and have to pull up," Worsfold said.
"So it's a very far-fetched suggestion at the moment.
"We're more than likely to sit back and see the game evolve itself."