The Offside Law


In defence or attack, knoving and using the offside law will improve your team’s performance. If a player is offside, the referee wil award an indirect  free kick to the other team from the place where the infringement occurred.

Caught offside:

To be offside, you must have fewer than two opposition players between yourself and the goal-line at the moment the ball is played to you. You must be between the goal-line and the ball and you must be inside the opposition half. The only exceptions are when your team-mate throws or passes the ball directly to you from a goal-kick, corner-kick or throw-in. In all these cases, you cannot be offside.

  • The law is designed to stop players goalhanging – seeking scoring chances by standing behind the opposition defending.
  • Learn the offside law, don’t let your ignorance prevent a goal or gift one to the opposition.
  • If the keeper is standed upfield and you only have an outfield player between you and the goal, you are still offside.

Basics – Being offside:

When  a player passes the ball up the field, the referee and his assistants check the positons of the player’s attacking team-mates relative to the opposition defence and goalkeeper.

Interfering with play:

Being in an offside position does not mean that the referee will automatically stop play. He must decide whether you are also interfering with play. To do this he imagines a zone inside which you would normally be judged as interfering. This helps him make the decision.

The offside law can seem difficult to understand, but by learning these six rules you can use the law to your advantage. Defenders can learn the offside trap and attackers can learn how to beat ft.

1.) Your position will be judged at the moment the ball is passed.

2.) If you have one opponent – or none – between you and the goal-line, you are offside. But you are onside if you have one opponent in front of you and you are level with the second to last opposing player.

3.) You can only be offside if you are in front of the ball when it is played forward.

4.) You cannot be offside directly from a throw-in, corner or goal-kick. But as soon as another of your players touches the ball the offside rule can be applied.

5.) You cannot be offside if you are inside your own half.

6.) If you are offside, the referee gives an idirect free kick to the opposition.

The offside trap is where a defender or, more often, a defensive unit acting on a signal, rush forward in order to catch an attacking player offside. Alert attackers will be on the lookout for this play.

 The Offside Law_2

The Offside Trap:

One of the most effective ways for a defence to stop an attack is by setting an offside trap. When a forward ball who is caught between the last defender and the goalkeeper is ofiside. Defenders set the trap by playing in a line across the pitch and running forward as a unit, perhaps on a signal. The tactic leaves unwary attackers offside.

Dangerous play:

The offside trap can be risky. Communication and anticipation are vital. All the defenders have to time their runs so that they move past the attackers before the ball is played. If even one defender is slow off the mark, the consequences can be disastrous. If a striker is level with the last defender, he’s onside and can run on to the pass unchallenged.

  • Anticipation is the key. At the moment the pass is struck to the attacker, all the defenders must already be ahead of him.
  • Even if you’re going to adopt an offside trap, don’t forget to defend. If you can reach the ball, clear it. That’s the safe option: the offside trap isn’t, but it’s a useful fall-back.


Basics – Hold your line:

The offside trap relies on speed and surprise. When a striker is poised and waiting for a pass, he will expect defenders to be goalside of him and he’ll be watching the passer, not the deffence.

It’s essential for the defence to hold the line – constantly checking their positions against each other – and step forward together at the right moment. They must move up as a unit, holding the line as they go.


Advanced – Beating the Offside Trap:

To beat the offside trap, attackers must have pace, awareness and timing. Moment off the ball is crucial; attackers who stand still are not only easy to mark, they also get caught offside. Players will often make diagonal runs to stay onside, then dart through to meet a pass.



[] Bangsbo, J., Peitersen, B.,, (2002), Defensive Soccer Tactics, USA, Human Kinetics Book

[] BCSS – International Soccer School, (2011), Soccer Skills and Techniques, (In Association with the Bobby Charlton Soccer School), UK, Abbeydale Press



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