I too am sometimes confused by the AR Procedure. Let’s find out.

Should the AR hold his/her position with flag lowered waiting to judge whether the OSP attacker becomes OS, while the ball advances, and then run to catch up to the ball or NTLD if the OS does not develop, or

Run to stay with the ball or NTLD letting play develop, and if then judging the OSP attacker to be OS due to delayed participation, flag it, get Refs attention and then run back to mark the OS position for the IFK?

My personal mechanic has been to hold the position and rush to catch up if the Offside does not develop. Reason being that 95% of the time I will be in the right position when the OSP attacker becomes OS. Or be pretty close and have more time if the Defense takes possession or the ball goes into touch. The other 5% ??? Of those few instances when I see the possibility of an on side attacker coming thru to play the ball, I try to stay with the ball and then only rush back to the original OSP if I judge the OSP attacker to be OS.

Can you provide any references on this.

USSF answer (January 7, 2009):
If your mechanic works for you, that is fine. However, we recommend REMEMBERING where the player was when the ball was played by his or her teammate — a few yards are not going to mean the world falls apart — and staying with play until it is clear that the offside has materialized.

The AR runs down the touch line, maintaining proper position with either the ball or second-last defender, and then raises the flag when the attacker has become actively involved and is thus offside (subject to the decision of the referee). When the referee sees the raised flag and blows the whistle, the AR makes eye contact with the referee and points the flag to the far, middle or near side, whichever is correct. The AR then moves back down the touch line to a point in line with the correct spot for the restart.

Note: There is no specific advice on the matter because it is left to the discretion of the referee to cover the issue in the pregame.  The issue, simply put, is that the AR must continue to maintain proper position during the period of time between when an offside position is noted and when the offside violation is clear enough to be flagged.  The AR’s position must be maintained in this scenario because of the possibility that an offside violation may not occur.  The issue outcome hinges on identifying the correct location of the restart.

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