What is Offsides in Hockey? A Guide to the Infamous Rule


Although, hockey is one of the biggest sports in the UK, it is a fast-paced and exciting sport that can be difficult to follow for those unfamiliar with the rules, and one of the most confusing rules in hockey is offside.

In this blog post, we will explain what is offsides in hockey and how it is enforced in the game of hockey.

What is Offsides in Hockey?

Offside in hockey is a rule that states that an attacking player cannot enter the opposing team’s zone before the puck. However, play continues if a player on the attacking team maintains one of his hockey skates on or behind the blue line while attacking the offensive zone.

The position of the players’ hockey skates is crucial in determining whether a player is offsides or not because the position of the player’s hockey stick has no impact on the game.

Players are permitted to enter the offensive zones at any time, as long as they don’t touch the puck while they’re still in the zone.

How Does the Offside Rule Work?

Illustration: Offsides in hockey explained

here is an illustration to show how a player is to allowed over the blue line before the puck has crossed the line.

In this illustration, we can see that the centre is in the neutral zone, and the left wing is in the attacking zone. This means that if the centre passes the puck to the left wing, the referee will have to call the offside.

Related: How much does a hockey puck weigh?

Types of Offsides in Hockey

Offsides are classified into three categories in ice hockey, each with a different consequence. You have the delayed offsides, intentional offsides, and offsides deflections.

What are delayed offsides in hockey?

Delayed offsides are called when an attacking player enters the attacking zone before the puck but is not in violation of the offside rule because a teammate preceded him into the zone with the puck. As a result, the play is stopped, and the resulting faceoff occurs at the spot where the offending player was when he entered the zone.

What are intentional offsides in hockey?

Intentional offsides are called when an attacking player enters the attacking zone on purpose before the puck and is in violation of the offside rule. This type of offside results in a penalty to the offending team.

What are offsides deflections in hockey?

Offside deflections in hockey are the rarest offside but can still be called by the referees. This happens when a defending player attempts to clear the puck out of the defensive zone, but it strikes an official who was in the neutral zoneā€”this type of offside results in a turnover for the defending team.

Related: What is icing in hockey?

What happens when a player goes offside?

When a player goes offside, the play is stopped, and a faceoff is initiated at the spot where the offending player was when he entered the zone.

Why do they have offsides in hockey?

The NHL, which is one of the most profitable sports leagues, introduced the offside rules for the first time back in 1929.

The offside rule is in place to maintain fair play and prevent teams from gaining an unfair advantage. By preventing players from entering the zone before the puck, the offside rules evens out the playing field and makes the game more competitive.

Additionally, the NHL changed the rule in 2021m as they felt that it was sufficient if the trailing skate only passed the blue line and that the player would be onside and not have crossed into the offensive zone as long as the skate was above the blue line.

What is the offside challenge in hockey?

The offside challenge in hockey is a rule that allows teams to challenge referee calls on offside plays. If the team challenging the call believes that the player was not offside, they can make a formal request to have the play reviewed by an NHL official. The play is overturned if the challenge is successful, and no penalty is assessed.


While offside in hockey can be a difficult concept to understand, it is an important rule that helps keep the game fair.

We hope this article has helped clear up any confusion about what is offsides in hockey and how the rule is enforced.

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