Offside is a tough rule to get comfortable with and it’s a very important rule to understand as a parent or fan, player and coach. It’s especially important to understand the difference between being in an offside position and being offside. In this article we’ll help you as a parent or fan to understand the rule, as the player to understand how to play it and as the coach how to teach it.

Offside Explained

There are two important parts to an offside offense. The first is that the player must be in an offside position and the second is the player in the offside position must be involved in the active play.

Part 1 – being in an offside position:

At the time that the ball is touched by the teammate, a player is in an offside position if:

  • Any part of the head, body or feet (excluding arms and hands) is on the opponents half and
  • The body part is past the second to last defender

Part 2 – being involved in the active play:

If the player who is in an offside position becomes involved in the play, an offside offense is called and the opposing team is granted an indirect free kick from the point the player was in the offside position.

You are involved in the play if you do anything that interferes with the defender’s or goalkeeper’s ability to defend the play or if you make a play for the ball.

This includes if you become involved after the ball has been deflected off an opposing player, goal post or crossbar.

No offense

A player can not be called for offside if they receive the ball directly from:

  • Goal kick
  • Throw-in
  • Corner

If you’re still not sure about the offside offense:

Player – How to play the offside offense

As a player you should always be looking at the second to last defender. In most cases this is the last defender because the goalkeeper is the last defender, and it’s important to remember that the goalkeeper won’t always be the last defender. You should make sure that you are a in line with that defender or a step back from them. If you’re going to make a run to receive a pass from your teammate then you should make a “J” run. This means that you make a letter J in your run and you should run toward the player then toward the goal in order to stay onside when the ball is played.

Coach – How to teach the offside offense

As a coach you should first determine if your age group has the offside rule. Offside starts with the u10/11 age groups and continues with the older group.

Now that you know that you have to teach the rule you should first focus on what it means to be in an offside position. Help the offensive players understand how to stay on their goal side of the second to last defender (keeping in mind the goalkeeper).

When helping the defenders you should have them remember to stay in a straight line. You should make a single defender be in charge of the offside line. They are responsible for ensuring that the defense is in a straight line and that no defender is behind them keeping the offense onside.