Hockey Offsides


The blue lines run parallel to the red line. They indicate where each zone of the ice begins and ends, dividing the ice into three equal parts.

Hockey Blue Line

These three parts or zones are called the defending zone, neutral zone, and attacking zone.

In this tutorial, we will learn about offsides and the significance of the blue lines and zones in ice hockey.


Offsides is a penalty in ice hockey that is often misunderstood. Offsides is called on a offensive player who enters the attacking zone prior to the puck entering it. This player must be on the team with possession of the puck.

REMEMBER: Offsides is never called on the player with control of puck.

Hockey Offside

A referee will use a player's skates to determine if offsides should be called. The puck has to also be completely over the blue line.

PRO TIP: To avoid being called for offsides, a player should make sure his skates are in contact with the blue line of the attacking zone.

Delayed Offsides

The referee will signal delayed offsides if a player is in or enters the attacking zone prior to the puck entering it. The referee will only stop play for offsides if a player on the same team brings the puck into the attacking zone.

REMEMBER: Offsides won't be called until the puck crosses the blue line in the attacking zone.

Players can notice a referee is signaling delayed offsides and if they have time they can retreat back into the neutral zone to avoid being called for offsides. However, they must do this before the puck enters the attacking zone.

PRO TIP: The only way the attacking team can score a goal when a referee is signaling delayed offsides is if the defending team scores in their own net.

Puck Leaves The Attacking Zone

If the puck leaves the attacking zone, players still in the attacking zone are offside and must leave the attacking zone before the puck can be brought back in.

If the puck is sent into the attacking zone while an offensive player is in the attacking zone, he must leave without playing the puck or coming into contact with a player on the opposing team.

Intentional Offsides

Intentional offsides is when an offensive player purposely goes offsides to secure a stoppage of play. This is up to the opinion of the linesman.

Offsides Deflections

If the puck is deflected during play, offsides can still be called. For example:

Not Offsides

In the following situations a player is NOT considered offside:

  • A player is NOT offsides if he is in the zone while an opposing player passes the puck back into the defensive zone
  • A player is NOT offsides if a defensive player in defensive zone hits the puck off another defensive player in neutral zone and it goes back into the defensive zone.

Face-off Locations

Offsides does not result in a power play. When offsides is called on a team, a face-off is used to put the puck back into play.


On an offsides call, the face-off will take place in the neutral zone spot nearest the attacking zone of offending team.

Intentional Offsides

On an intentional offsides call, the face-off will take place in the offending team's defensive zone.

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