But there were no second or third time positives.
Under the AFL's illicit drugs policy, players are only named publicly if they test positive three times in an out of competition scenario.
Players who have previously tested positive are subject to target testing in subsequent years.
There were also six positives to illicit drugs in 2010, although the number of tests has dropped from 1654 to 1489.
AFL football operations manager Adrian Anderson said on Thursday the league was encouraged by the results, especially as more of the tests were taken during high-risk times such as weekends.
"What's happened has far exceeded our expectations - to have only six," said Anderson.
All six positives were for stimulants.
For the first time since 2006, there were no positives for cannabis and none of the positives occurred on match days.