What is Offside

The offside law is a complicated law of the game due to the complexities and different scenarios that can occur.

However in simple terms;

A player is in an offside position if any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents' half (excluding the halfway line) and any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.

Being in an offside position is not an offence in itself, but a player positioned when the ball is played by a teammate can be judged guilty of an offside offence if they receive the ball or will otherwise become 'involved in active play', will 'interfere with an opponent', or will 'gain an advantage' by being in that position.

In the example below, while the Dark Blue right side attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played forward, he is not deemed to be involved in active play, therefore is not offside. Meanwhile, the left sided attacker is also not deemed to be offside as the ball is still nearer to the goal line when the second pass is played by the central striker.

What are the implications of the offside law?

Firstly, it prevents the attacking team having a player that stands next to the goal in any moment of the game looking to score (kids call them ‘goal hangers’).

For the attacking team it usually means forward players are either fast or have intelligent movement so that when the ball is played forward they can outrun the defender and reach the ball first. Clever movement might include the timing and direction of runs in behind the defensive line.

Teams try to negate this by playing a ‘deeper’ defensive line to deny space in behind them where they could be vulnerable.

Alternatively, they may play a ‘high line' (allowing lots of space in behind them) because they have defensively quick, mobile players.

Either way, teams should have a strategy without the ball in which they determine the depth of their defensive unit/deepest defender.

At what age is offside introduced in youth football?

The offside rule is introduced at under-11s when they start to play 9v9 football.

What is an offside trap?

This is a strategy used by the defending team to try and catch the attacker offside and involves either a team stepping up or holding their line just before the ball is kicked.

It’s a risky strategy as usually involves two or more people to be on the same wavelength.

How do you teach offside?

Consider using the offside law in training at a young age so that the concept isn’t so new to them when they have to play it.

Playing offside in small-sided (2v2 up to 5v5) games or simple 2v1 practices are a great introduction to the offside law for younger players.

Session Examples for senior football and youth football?

Download our four example practices that you can use and adapt with your team to work on offsides and using the rule to your advantage, whether in defence or attack.

We have a warm-up passing practice, and sessions for the Foundation Phase, Youth Development Phase and Professional Development Phase.

(you will need to log into your MiMentor account, sign-up for free, or subscribe.)

What is offside?
Watch the replay of our webinar to support grassroots youth coaches around the transition to 7v7 football.
Elliott Ward, head coach with Colchester United's U18s, tells us about his Coaching Role Models in the MiMentor Coaches Coffee Club.
Ipswich Town U18s coach Callum Tongue highlights the consistent approach of first team manager Kieran McKenna and other successful teams.
What Is A CDM?
During Euro 2020 we will be hosting a number of live webinars to look at the technical and tactical approaches that teams adopt during the tournament, in collaboration with our partners Keyframe Sports.
Download the Free Professional Development Planning Tool, from our Coach Mentor Diploma.
Ross Embleton, Colchester United's Head of Recruitment, talked about the subject of Coach Qualities, as well as giving us an insight into his career path in the game.
How can we help players within our team develop composure and effective decision-making for fast, pressurised attacking situations?
In this edition of the MiMentor Coaches Coffee Club, James catches up with Jack Cassidy, Cambridge United Football Club's Senior PDP Coach and Pathways Manager.