What is Off-Side in Soccer?
|Off-side does not exist if you are
- on your own side of the field,
|or if the play is a
- corner kick,
- goal kick,
- throw-in, or a
- drop ball.
To be off-side, you must be doing the following at the moment the ball is passed from or bounces off a teammate:
- be closer to the goal line than the second-closest defender, and also
- be closer to the goal line than the ball.
Even then, you must also be doing one of these things:
- be somehow involved in the play, or
- be interfering with a defender who might have otherwise been involved in the play, or
- be seeking an advantage to your side by being where you are (like screening a defender).
An instant after the ball is passed from or bounces off a teammate, off-side does not exist (but is judged again as soon as a teammate passes the ball again). For you, this means you are free to run for the ball after the pass, so long as you were not off-side when the ball was touched by your teammate.
Notice that the goal line that runs the width of the field (not just the goal, which is only eight yards wide) determines off-side position. The simplest way to not be off-side (when you don't have the ball, of course) is to stay slightly behind the ball when only one defender is closer to the goal line (usually the goalie).
Dribbling is not passing. If a teammate would be called off-side if you passed, just dribble on! Or, if you have an opening, and the off-side teammate isn't part of the action, try to score! If the off-side teammate is considered "out of the play", the score will count. Just because a teammate is in off-side position doesn't mean off-side will be called. However, it might be worth a chat!
The most important thing to remember in soccer is that the referee is the final authority. If the referee calls something differently than what you saw, forget it and go on! Never comment about a bad call. You can be thrown out of the game!
The referee can choose not to call a foul that they see, if they believe that doing so gives the fouling side an advantage! Referees can disqualify a substitute, as well as players, even during half-time, or penalize our side if our fans become unruly.
A soccer referee doesn't throw a flag, seldom wears a hat or long pants, and rarely blows the whistle.
Some Ways Soccer is Different from
- The scoring team receives the kickoff from the team they just scored on.
- The ball's position, not the player's position, determines out-of-bounds.
- All of the ball, not just part of it, must be past the line to be out-of-bounds or in the goal.
- Lines are part of the field and are part of the area of the field that they mark.
- Play may continue with an injured player (if the referee believes the injury is not serious).
- The number of players per side is not always the same. For example, if a player is ejected during the game (half-time is "during the game"), that player's team will have one less player throughout the rest of the game.
Rules for the Goalie
The goalie should know some special rules that apply just to the goalie position:
- You can use your hands (deflect, catch and/or hold the ball) anywhere within your own penalty area.
- You can take a maximum of 4 steps after holding and controlling the ball, before releasing the ball back into play. Spot of the 5th step is where the opposition is awarded a free kick!
- You cannot use hands a second time until someone else touches the ball.
- You cannot use hands if a teammate "feeds" you the ball (by passing it or heading it to you).
If a player's hand or arm is purposely moved and contacts the ball (or your hand or arm is not moved to avoid contacting the ball), a direct free kick is awarded to the opposition from the spot where the ball was touched.
When the ball is close, keep your arms at your sides. A ball striking your arm or hand when you couldn't have expected it, is not a hand ball. This does not mean it won't be called, though. Often the referee doesn't notice what happened just before, and calls a hand ball anyway. Remember, the referee is always right (even when they are wrong).
Commiting the following fouls could hurt someone. Also, you might be ejected from the game for committing them blatantly or more than once (in addition to the normal free kick for the opposition). Please remember these fouls and play safely!
- Don't kick the ball when it is high (above the waist) when close to an opponent who could be hurt.
- Don't head the ball low (below the waist) when close to an opponent who could kick at the ball.
- Don't purposely fall on the ball, unless you are the goalie within your penalty area.
- Don't kick at or head the ball when the goalie is holding or lying on the ball.
Whenever a referee-placed kick is to be made, the kicker may request all opponents to stay at least 10 yards away. On the kickoff and penalty kick, the 10-yard rule is mandatory. At other times, you may kick quickly if you feel that gives you an advantage (and it often does!).
A ball isn't considered "kicked" until it has traveled its circumference (about 28 inches), and the kicker can't be the next player to contact the ball. An exception will be made this year on the kickoff. No minimum travel distance is required for a kickoff, so a player may just touch the ball with a foot to begin play.
On a goal kick, no one may touch the ball (from either team) until it passes out of the penalty area. Any free kick from your own penalty area is treated this way.
When making a throw-in, make sure you
- keep both feet on the ground, and
- throw with both hands by drawing the ball from behind and over your head.
You may throw while touching the sideline (wonder why - it is in bounds!).
The opposition may not distract you during the throw-in by action or by words. If someone "threatens" you during a throw-in, call the referee over and complain. Explain that the threat distracts you. It's the perfect place to enforce a little good sportsmanship, which I require of you!
Fair Charge and Obstructing vs. Screening
Contact in soccer is allowed, but (especially in youth soccer) only shoulder-to-shoulder and only when also playing or attempting to play the ball.
When the other team's player is dribbling the ball, you may use your shoulders against their shoulders to push them out of your way as you attempt to gain control of the ball. Notice that you may not push them in the back, only on their shoulders! It is never allowed to push or grab with hands, arms, elbows, legs, feet, hips,... only shoulders and only when playing or attempting to play the ball! The same shoulder-to-shoulder contact made when the ball isn't within playing distance is an illegal charge foul.
Notice that blocking, as in American football, is a foul in soccer. This foul is called obstructing. You cannot block someone's progress toward the ball if the ball is not within playing distance. However, you can "walk with the ball" to screen opponents from the ball as it rolls toward the goalie or out of bounds, so long as the ball is within playing distance (this is legal screening). Be careful, though. The opponent may make a fair charge at you, so they can reach the ball (because you are close enough to dribble the ball)!
On offense, you may not obstruct the goalie from getting to the ball, even when you are just standing close to the goalie and the ball is out on the field.