I have never fully understood the Offside Law, I hope you can clarify:

Obviously a player is offside if he receives the ball past the 2nd to last defender, but is he also considered offside if he receives the ball before the 2nd to last defender and then dribbles past the defender?

This may have a simple answer, but I have not been able to find it in any book. Thank you in advance for your response

USSF answer (March 25, 2008):
The Law is pretty clear on this particular point:
Offside Position
It is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position.
A player is in an offside position if:
– he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent
A player is not in an offside position if:
– he is in his own half of the field of play or
– he is level with the second last opponent or
– he is level with the last two opponents

A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:
– interfering with play or
– interfering with an opponent or
– gaining an advantage by being in that position

No, a player is not obviously offside if he “receives the ball past the 2nd to last defender.” Simply receiving the ball when the player is past the second-last defender is not an infringement. To be offside, the player must actually be involved in active play (as described in the Law) and have been in an offside position at the moment when his teammate played the ball.

And no, neither would the player be considered offside if he received the ball farther away from the opponents’ goal than the second-last defender — providing he had not run back into an onside position from an offside position to receive the ball.

You might also consider reading the USSF publication “Offside Made Easy,” available on It is, as we said above, not where the player receives the ball, but where that player was when the teammate played the ball.

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