Understanding the Basics of Soccer Offside Rule: Tips for Players and Parents

The offside rule is one of the most important and often misunderstood rules in soccer. It plays a crucial role in maintaining the fairness and flow of the game. This article aims to explain the basics of the offside rule in a simple and understandable way for both players and parents.

Understanding the Offside Rule

A player is considered to be in an offside position if:

  1. They are nearer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent (usually the last outfield player) when the ball is played to them.
  2. They are involved in active play by interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage from being in that position.

It’s important to note that a player is not in an offside position if they are level with the second last opponent or level with the last two opponents.

Interpreting the Offside Rule

The offside rule can be tricky to interpret in real-time because it depends on the exact moment the ball is played. Here are some key points to remember:

  1. A player cannot be offside from a goal kick, corner kick, or throw-in.
  2. A player cannot be offside if they are in their own half of the field when the ball is played.
  3. Being in an offside position is not an offense in itself. The player must be involved in active play as judged by the referee.
  4. A player can be penalized for being offside even if they do not touch the ball, as long as they are involved in active play by interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage.
  5. If a player is in an offside position but the ball is played by an opponent, the offside is not penalized.


Understanding the offside rule is crucial for any soccer player, and it can also enhance the viewing experience for parents and fans. It’s a complex rule with many nuances, but with practice and experience, it becomes easier to understand and apply.

At Skills FC, a branch of I Got Skills, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, we believe in the holistic development of our players. Our training programs focus not only on technical and tactical skills but also on understanding the rules of the game. If you have any questions or need more information about our programs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to support your soccer journey.


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