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Hockey Offsides

ice hockey offside

Table of Contents

Offsides Rule

Offsides in hockey is a confusing rule.

Offsides is an infraction that is called on any player who is in the Offensive Zone prior to a player with possession of the puck entering the zone.

A referee will use a player's skates to determine if that player is offsides.

The puck has to also be completely over the blue line of the Offensive Zone prior to teammates entering the zone.

To avoid being called for offsides, a player should make sure that the puck has already entered the zone before the player enters.

Offsides Quiz

The Blue Lines

ice hockey blue line

There are two blues on a hockey rink that together divide the ice into three zones called the defensive zone, neutral zone, and offensive zone.

The blue line is important when calling offsides. There is a referee standing on the blue line whose sole job is to determine if players are offsides.

The Offensive Zone

ice hockey offensive zone

The offensive zone is the part of the rink where the team with the puck is trying to score.

It all depends on who has the puck. For example, the offensive zone is switched for the other team since they are trying to score on the other side of the ice.

If your team has the puck outside of the offensive zone, then all teammates must be outside the offensive zone as well.

Basic Offsides

In its most simplest form, offsides is called on any player who enters the offensive zone prior to his teammate with the puck entering the zone.

Delayed Offsides

Now, just because a teammate is in the offensive zone doesn't mean he doesn't have a chance to leave the zone. This is called delayed offsides.

In a delayed offsides call, the referee will raise his hand in the air signaling that an offsides call is imminent. This gives any teammates who are offsides a chance to cross the blue line into the neutral zone.

Intentional Offsides

This type of offsides is more rare, but it does happen.

Sometimes in a hockey game, a player intentionally goes offsides.

For example, a teammate may be tired and need to go to the bench for a substitution.

Another situation where a player intentionally goes offsides would be to purposely stop momentum of the opposing team.

Intentional offsides is up to the opinion of the linesman.

Offsides Deflections

What happens if a deflection is made during a potential offsides call?

It is an offsides deflection if the puck is deflected off a referee in the neutral zone and back into the defensive zone.

A teammate can deflect the puck into the offensive zone and it is not an offsides deflection.

A player is not offsides if he intercepts the puck from a deflection back into the offensive zone from the opposing team.

The Player's Skates

A player is not offsides if he has at least one foot behind the blue line when the puck enters the offensive zone. A player has to have both skates in the offensive zone for offsides to be called.


A player is not offsides if he intercepts the puck from the other team while in the offensive zone.

Face-off Spots

ice hockey face off spot

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.

The face-off will take place in the neutral zone after an offsides infraction.

There are four locations that a face-off will take place after an offsides call, two on each end of the neutral zone just outside the blue lines.

On a delayed offsides call, the face-off will happen on one of the face-off spots closest to the offensive zone.

On an intentional offsides call, the face-off will happen on one of the face-off spots closest to the defensive zone.


Why does offsides exist in hockey?

Offsides is a penalty in ice hockey that is often misunderstood. It is a rule that is in place to discourage what is known as cherry picking, or sitting in the offensive zone waiting for the puck.

What happens if the puck leaves the zone?

If the puck leaves the offensive zone, all teammates must leave the offensive zone as well. Once the puck leaves the zone, the referee will signal a delayed offsides call.


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