In general, most of the soccer rules are relatively easy to understand. They are simple and they are to the point.
For example, there is nothing complicated about telling a soccer kid not to touch the ball with their hands.
But some rules can still be confusing and especially for kids. The offside rule is one of the confusing soccer rules as you can probably tell. Even some adults can have a hard time understanding all the aspects of the offside rule when they are first introduced to the rule.
This article will dive into how to explain the offside rule for a kid. But first, a few questions need to be answered.
Why is the offside soccer rule confusing for kids?
The main reason behind the complexity of the offside rule is that it involves a lot of variables and a lot of scenarios.
For example, to determine whether a player has committed and offside offense or not, you first need to look at the player’s position, then you need to look at the opponent’s last defender’s position, then you need to look at who’s passing the ball, and where are they passing it from and so on.
So you get the point, There are a lot of variables involved when it comes to the offside rule and this can be confusing to anyone and not just kids.
But don’t worry about that at all. There’s a simple way to explain the soccer rule for kids that is mentioned later in this article.
At what age does the offside rule start in soccer?
Many soccer associations around the world start introducing the offside rule to players aged 8 and above. Some soccer associations also make the offside rule less aggressive for the age range of 8-10, and then they go all in at the age of 10 and above.
In general, it all depends on what soccer association is putting the rules. Some associations decide to introduce the offside rule at a very early stage, and other associations decide to wait till the kids are old enough.
If you have a kid who plays soccer at a certain club, then you should ask the club and the association that this club belongs to in order to know whether the offside rule will apply on your kid or not.
But in general, a kid aged 8 or more is able to play with the offside rule in place.
Note that some soccer associations make some changes to the offside rule for the children aged between 8 and 10.
For example, many youth soccer games in the United State add what’s called a build out line on the soccer field.
What is the build out line in youth soccer?
The build out lines in youth soccer are 2 extra lines added on the soccer field to allow some slight modifications to the youth soccer rules. The lines are usually placed equidistant from the half-way line and the nearest side of the penalty area.
One of the usages of the build out lines is to put limits on the offside soccer rule.
For example, some associations introduce the offside rule to players aged between 8 and 10, but they only enforce the offside rule if the players have crossed the “build out line” instead of enforcing the rule on a whole side of the field.
But you may ask, why introduce the offside rule in the first place for U10?
The answer is quite simple actually. The main purpose of the offside rule in general is to discourage the players from hanging in front of their opponent’s team all the game.
For that reason, the kids should learn from the very beginning that hanging around the opponent’s goal is not a proper soccer strategy.
If the offside rule isn’t introduced to the young players, they might end up wasting their time learning strategies that they will not be allowed to use when they grow up.
So it makes total sense to force the offside rule on young soccer players too.
How to explain the offside rule for kids/children in soccer?
Explaining the soccer rule to a kid isn’t really hard. You just have to use the right approach and the kid will immediately understand it.
We’re talking about people aged between 8 and 12 here. Older kids should be able to understand the rule very easily.
Here are some things that you can do to explain the offside rule for kids:
1- Simplify the rule into a set of clear and easy statements
Explaining the rules in the simplest form possible is the way to go. Also, dividing the rule into chunks of information that you feed the kid over time is much better than throwing the whole thing on the kid and overwhelming them.
A great way to do this is to tell the kids what they should do to avoid the offside offense instead of explaining the rule to them and letting them figure out what to do on their own.
For example, here is a very simple explanation that you can use to help a player not fall into the offside trap:
Do not go further than the last defender of your opponent whenever you do not have the ball
There is much more to the offside rule than just this simple statement, but if the kid follows this exact statement, they won’t be in an offside position during the whole match.
After the kid understands the above statement, you can start introducing the other aspects of the offside rule. For example, the next statement you can use is the following:
If the ball is in front of you when you are facing your opponent’s side, then just disregard the previous statement
This will let the kid understand that if the ball is ahead of them, then it’s alright for them to get the ball from their teammate even if they have surpassed the second to last player of their opponent team.
Once the kid understands these 2 simple statements, then you can safely say that they have understood the offside rule properly and that they can start playing soccer games that include the offside rule.
You can later introduce the other minor rules and conditions of the offside rule. For example, you can tell them that the soccer rule doesn’t apply during these set pieces:
- Goal kick
- Corner kick
2- Use visuals to explain things simpler.
Seeing something with your own eyes can sometimes help you understand it more than when you just read about it.
This applies in our scenario. Use images and videos to explain the offside rule to the kids. Show them the offside rule offenses made in professional games. This will help them understand it much better.
Here’s a quick image that you can use.
With that said, I will end the article here. Here’s a quick summary of what you have just read
While the offside rule can seem a little bit complicated at first, soccer players older than 8 are fully capable of learning about the rule and putting it into practice.
To teach an 8 year-old kid about the offside rule, you can simplify the rule into a set of statements that tell the kid what to do instead of just explaining the rule to them.
For example, tell the kid not to surpass the last defender if they do not have the ball and they’ll know how to avoid the offside trap.