One of the most important rules of soccer is the “offside” rule. It is a simple rule in theory but when it comes to game time, it can be challenging for the referees and linesman. Parents, players, and coaches usually disagree with the call unless it’s a really obvious one, and that’s why this rule can make a HUGE difference in a game, even at the professional level.
The players that should be more familiar with this rule are the forward/strikers because they do not want to “break” this rule and give away a free kick for the opponent. Defenders can also benefit from this rule because if all defenders “step up” together, the opponents can be left on an “offside” position.
With a couple diagrams, I’m going to explain what “offside” means in soccer.
Offside – As simple as 1, 2, 3
Example #1: “Offside” ????
Example #2: “You are Good to Go!” ????
How to force an “offside” call? (Defenders)
Defenders should move up quick to make sure that opponents are forced to go away from their goalkeeper. Especially in corner kicks and free kicks close to your goal, you/defenders should step up as soon as the ball is played away from the goal you are defending.
Communication is key to make sure that EVERYONE is stepping up. Remember, it only takes one player to give the opponent “the OK” to keep playing. Work on this during practice and as your coach about his view on stepping up. Some coaches wouldn’t step up right away.
How to avoid being on “offside”? (Attackers)
As a former striker, I was barely caught offside because I knew how to take care of my positioning on the field. Let’s start by saying that “referees” are human being and they can make mistakes. IF you are “on the border line” between offside and NOT offside, then you are going to be called offside a few times a game.
Always be two-three steps in front (closer to your goal) of the second to last defender. That way you will always be safe.
These extra steps will give you an advantage to “take off” and make a run for the goal. Furthermore, if you are going against big defenders, you don’t want to get physical with them; instead, look for running their back and beat them with speed.