Offside From a Goal Kick: An Explanation of the Rules


Knowing when a player is offside in soccer is vital to understanding how the game works. One aspect of the offside rule addresses where a player can receive the ball at a goal kick. Today, let’s look at the answer to the question – can you be offside from a goal kick?

There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick. If the offside rule were enforced at a goal kick, this would restrict the player taking the goal kick from passing the ball to another player on their team within the opposition’s half of the field.

A player cannot be offside at a goal kick to allow a player the freedom to kick the ball into the opposition’s half at this set piece.

In this article, I’ll show you what this means and why it matters by explaining:

  • The reason being in an offside position at a goal kick would be problematic.
  • How the offside rule would prevent a player from receiving the ball in the opposition’s half,
  • and I’ll also describe two other situations where there are no offsides.
can you be offside from a goal kick

The Reason There Is No Offside Offense at a Goal Kick

There are two things you need to know to understand the reason for not enforcing the offside rule at a goal kick:

  1. What it looks like for a player to be in an offside position,
  2. and why this would be so restrictive for a team at a goal kick

In a previous article, I explained the offside rules of soccer in more detail. In this article, I’m just going to share what you need to know concerning a goal kick.

What It Means to Be In an Offside Position

Committing an offside offense in soccer means a player was in an offside position when the ball was last touched or played by another player on their team.

The rules of soccer state that a player is in an offside position when:

  • Any part of their head, body, or feet is nearer to their opponents’ goal line than both the second-last opponent and the ball,
  • And any part of their head, body, or feet is in their opponent’s half of the field.

The image below shows an example of a player in an offside position.

example of a soccer player in an offside position
Example of a soccer player in an offside position

However, it’s important to note that it’s not an offense to be in an offside position.

A player only commits an offside offense if they become involved in “active play” while in that position when the ball is last played or touched by another player on their team.

So, how does this relate to a goal kick?

How Being in an Offside Position Affects Players at a Goal Kick

Understanding what it means to be in an offside position will help you realize why using the offside rule would be problematic at a goal kick.

When the goalie or defender takes a goal kick, they often use this opportunity to move the ball into the opposition’s half of the soccer field.

Suppose there was offside at a goal kick. In that case, the opposition players could easily restrict attacking players from receiving the ball directly from the goal kick by standing on the halfway line.

Because a player is in an offside position when:

  • they are nearer to their opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent,
  • and they are in their opponents’ half of the field,

If the defending players all stand on the halfway line for a goal kick, then any player in the attacking half of the field would have:

  • Part of their head, body, or feet nearer to their opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent,
  • and part of their head, body, or feet is in their opponents’ half of the field.
player in offside position at a goal kick
Player in offside position at a goal kick

This would mean they are in an offside position. If the player then touched the ball directly from the goal kick while in this position, they would commit an offside offense.

To prevent this, there is no offside offense in soccer if a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick.

Can You Be Offside From a Drop Goal Kick Out of Hands?

One other question I sometimes hear people ask is whether a player can be offside after a drop goal kick out of the goalie’s hands.

This is different from a goal kick awarded by the referee to a team after the ball has gone out over the goal line.

In this scenario, the goalie will have collected the ball during gameplay, held the ball in their hands for a moment before they release it in front of them, and kick the ball up the field.

A player can be offside from a drop goal kick out of the goalie’s hands. If a player becomes involved in active play while in an offside position at the moment the goalie last touches the ball, then that player will have committed an offside offense.

A goalie only drop kicks the ball out of their hands during the usual run of play.

At this point in a soccer game, the offside rule is in force. Therefore, any player that commits an offside offense in these circumstances is subject to the same repercussions as they would be at any other point in the game.

The only exceptions to this are at a goal kick, as we have already covered, and at two other specific set-pieces.

Two Other Scenarios Where a Player Is Not Offside in Soccer

Other than a goal kick, there are only two other times when a player is not offside.

They are when receiving the ball directly from a:

  1. Corner kick
  2. Or throw-in

Offside at a Corner kick

The reason there is no offside offense at a corner kick is different from a goal kick.

There are no offsides at a corner kick because a player can’t be in an offside position at a corner kick. So to eliminate any confusion, the rules of soccer don’t require offsides from a corner.

soccer player taking a corner kick
Soccer player taking a corner kick

Being in an offside position means a player is “nearer to their opponents’ goal line than the ball” when it is last played or touched by another player on their team.

At a corner kick, the ball is already on, or very near, the goal line when a player kicks it.

This makes it hard for a player on the same team to be closer to the goal line than the ball is to the goal line.

There is no offside offense at a corner kick to decrease the chance of the officials having to make some very tough calls.

For more info on this topic, check out my article – Offsides at a Corner Kick.

Offside at a Throw-in

The last area where there is no offside offense in soccer is at a throw-in.

soccer player about to throw soccer ball
Soccer player about to take a throw-in

A player cannot be offside if they receive the ball directly from the throw-in because this would mean that the player taking the throw would not be able to throw the ball further up the field within the opposition’s half from where they were standing.

Again, because of the meaning of being in an offside position, the opposition could prevent a player from throwing the ball forward by standing level with the player taking the throw.

If they did stand level with the thrower, and the player taking the throw-in still threw the ball forward to another player on their team, then the player receiving the ball would be:

  • nearer to their opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent,
  • and in their opponents’ half of the field.

The definition offside means they would be in an offside position and committing an offside offense when they become involved in active play.

To prevent this from happening, there is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from a throw-in.

For more information on offsides at a throw-in, check out my article – Offside From a Throw-In: The Rules Are Clear.


For more details and info on the rules of soccer, check out one of my previous articles:

Ben

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Sign up to the yoursoccerhome.com newsletter here or check out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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