How Would You Explain Offside To A Soccer Mom?

Offside confuses soccer parents – there is no denying it. I chuckle because I see some soccer parents who played AND have coached, yelling at referees for offside when it clearly wasn’t. So how would you explain offside to soccer parents? Josh at Throughball found a soccer parent asking that very question though he’s not admitting how! :) Anne from My Tiny Kingdom asked for her readers help:

None of the Glamores knows a thing about soccer, except that I am aware of the hotness of the aforementioned David Beckham, which I have witnessed first-hand, and his alleged talent, which I have not.

At the game yesterday the referee kept calling “off-sides” and I thought that meant that the ball rolled out of bounds and had to be thrown in by the other team. Sadly, I soon learned that this innocuous term has a complicated meaning having to do with where people are when someone kicks at the goal. I think.

At dinner last night we ascertained that no member of our family, including Finn, understands the “off-sides” rule.

I always seem to go into WAY too much detail hoping some of it will sink in, even if all of it doesn’t. The comments that Anne got were generally helpful, and a few pretty funny, but I still didn’t see a good summary of understanding offside for soccer parents. So share em if you got em!

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  1. In order to prevent an offense player to simply stand next to the goal and wait for the ball to come to them so they can kick it in, there is an offsides rule. Basically, an offense member from one team cannot be closer to the goal than a defender from the other team is at the time the ball is kicked from a different player.

  2. FIFA has created an รขโ‚ฌล“Interactive Guide to Offside Law 11? to help players and fans (and referees) understand the correct interpretation of offside. ( is in the middle of redesigning their site, so the link may not work. You can still find the flash offside animation by going to, navigating to the page on Laws of the Game. Click on the link to open an interactive version of the Laws, and when you get to Law 11, look for the link that says “launch flash version”)

    It may take several minutes to load, but it comes with animations as well as videos from real games that highlight all of the examples.

  3. That’s a great animation. You’re right about the site changes – I just got done updating all of ours – why they couldn’t redirect the old links is beyond me.

    If you go to our league’s Referee Info Page, there’s a link directly to the flash animation (Understanding Offsides) – and OS is right – its big and will take a while to load.

  4. Oh and FYI Bill,

    The “Clickette” demonstration is a good primer on offside; thank you for sharing it with us. I would caution you, however, that it appears to be a bit dated, and some of the interpretation is no longer authoritative. In particular, the “area of active play” is no longer a criterion for “involvement with play.”

    The implication of this is that you could actually jump over the ball and (provided you did not interfere with an opponent) you would not be penalized for being in an offside position.

    I hope that doesn’t muddy the waters too much ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. True – of course I’m 99.9% sure if the ball went near a youth player and they jumped over it, the ref would still call it! They’re getting better, but a LOT of referees are still calling old style where they don’t seem to really consider ‘involvement’ in the play.