It has come to my attention over the past few days that some referees, regardless of experience, are not sure exactly what constitutes an offside infraction. Here is a quick review.
There are 3 primary aspects of offside - position, timing, and involvement.
1.)Position - closer to the opponent's goal than the ball and the 2nd to last member of the defending team (one may be the goalkeeper).
2.)Timing - the offside position is determined at the moment the ball is touched by a teammate or played by an opponent.
3.)Involvement - Offside position, in and of itself, is not an infraction. A player is only penalized if they become involved in play by interfering with play, interfering with an opponent, or gaining an advantage by being in the offside position. In other words, NO INVOLVEMENT= NO INFRACTION!
Some key points to remember:
1.)A player who is in an offside position when the ball is played by a teammate CAN NOT put themselves back onside. There must be an additional element, such as a subsequent touch or play on the ball, the ball leaves the field, etc.
2.)A player who is in an offside position when the ball is touched or played by a teammate (think of this as a "snapshot" of a picture taken by a camera) remains ineligible to legally play the ball until a subsequent "snapshot" puts them back onside. An example would be if an offside player moves to an onside position (i.e. behind the ball, onto their defending half, etc.) and plays the ball and no external factors have occurred to place them onside, they still are guilty of the offside infraction. In this scenario, their actual position is irrelevant.