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What is Offside?

Updated: Dec 18, 2021

First let me start by saying: it's "Offside" not "Offsides".


By definition a player is in an offside position when they are positioned closer to the oppositions goal line than at least two opposing players. Typically this would be the goalkeeper and last defender but if for some reason the goalkeeper goes up field to take a free kick or pk and doesn't get back in time the attacking team still needs to keep two opposing players between their attackers and the goal to maintain an onside position. For the sake of this rule the arms and hands are not considered, however feet, legs, head and backside are.


Being in an offside position is not an infraction in itself. A player could spend nearly the entire game in an offside position but as long as they are not active in the play while in that position there is not an offense.


When does an offside position result in an offside call?

A player in an offside position is not allowed to be active in the play. There is a lot of confusion over this part of the offense but if you keep in mind these 4 triggers you will never be confused by offside again.


1. The player in an offside position can not interfere with the play

2. The player in an offside position can not interfere with an opponent

3. The player in an offside position can not touch the ball

4. The player in an offside position can not gain advantage


Offside positioning is determined at the time of the last touch from the player's own team regardless if it is a deliberate pass or deflection. Often this is referred to as "at the time of the pass" although it doesn't have to be a deliberate pass.


Confusion usually comes when a player makes a diagonal run and then out runs the defender appearing to have come onto the ball from an offside position when in reality they were in an onside position at the time of the pass. Another point of confusion is the fourth trigger listed above, if a player is in an offside position and does not interfere with play, does not interfere with an opponent and their teammate takes a shot that is deflected by the goalkeeper, goal or another player and then touches the ball they have gained advantage by their offside position and will be called for the infraction.


In the case of an offside call the ball will be placed at the point of the infraction and an indirect free kick will be given to the opposition. Remember the infraction takes place when one of those triggers are met, not at the first point of offside positioning.


Exceptions to the rules

Players are never considered offside during throw-ins (at the time of the throw), corner kicks (at the time of the kick), on their own side of the field or if they are behind the ball itself.


We are sharing this information with you so that you can better understand the game. We never want parents, observers or fans to referee the referees.


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