Soccer Rules – Offside Explained

Offside is one of the most confusing and misunderstood rules in soccer. What is offside? If an attacking player (without the ball) does not have two defending players (goalie counts as one) or the ball closer to the goal that is being attacked prior to the pass made to the attacking player, the player is offside. The key moment is the moment the ball is played. This video explains offside with the use of a whiteboard.
Video Explaining Offside

See my Soccer Lingo post for an explanation of the position numbers.

Offside in Youth Soccer

Offside is a difficult call to make at any level of soccer, but especially at the youth level. Youth referees are often kids themselves and sometimes do not understand the specifics of the rule.

Often, a linesman will get caught watching the play rather than watching his or her offside line and miss the moment when the ball is played. This can be frustrating, but please be patient! Again, the referee is likely a kid too and just learning his/her responsibilities.

Offside in Pro Soccer

Referee with offside flag up
Photo by Kory Brinton / The Upper 90

The pro level actually has the opposite problem. With the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), calls can be made accurate down to almost a millimeter! Unfortunately, this has resulted in fewer goals and, in some respects, a less exciting game. Because of that, FIFA is actually considering a change to the rule. Stay tuned!

Is it Offsides or Offside?

As a side note, you’ll probably hear “Offsides” far more than “Offside,” but the correct term is actually “Offside.” Try not to be a snob about it, though! Heck, I even said “offsides” once in the video…

It Can be Confusing!

Offside is a complicated concept. Hopefully, this post has helped out a little. Thanks for reading (and watching)!

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