How to be a linesperson

A linesperson monitors their team’s offside in each half and uses a flag to alert the referee when needed. Below you will find the main rules and tips to help when acting as a linesperson.

1) Ball out of play
This occurs if the ball goes out over your touch line or your goal line. You will need to do slightly different things depending on which line is crossed. For both situations, ensure your flag is pointing in the same direction as the referee is indicating, change direction if your initial indication is different and always ensure that you have stopped running and hold the flag in the correct hand (no crossovers).

Over your touchline

  • Hold the flag up at 45° in the direction of the team to who should take the throw.
  • Keep indicating for a minimum of 3 seconds or until the correct team is lining up to take the throw.

Over your goal line

  • For a goal kick, point it straight at the goal box.
  • For a corner, point your flag downwards towards the corner nearest to you regardless of which side the corner is to be taken from.
  • Keep indicating for a minimum of 3 seconds or longer if the teams are lining up against the decision.
2) Offside

A players is offside if if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the last opponent (excluding the goalkeeper) when their teammate plays the ball to them or, if they are interfering with play/opponent/gaining an advantage from their position. A player cannot be offside in their own half, directly from a goal kick, throw in or corner kick.

The offside rules can be a little tricky but the main thing to remember is that standing in an offside position when the ball comes forward doesn’t mean the player/s are offside. Only flag for offside if the player/s get the ball or tackles a defender while in an offside position.

Ensure you stay level with the last defender so you can see if anyone is offside. To indicate offside:

  1. Stop moving.
  2. Stand still with your flag straight up until either the referee blows the free-kick, waves you down or, more than 15 seconds have passed and the game has moved 3-4 plays ahead of the offence.
  3. Once the referee blows the free-kick for offside, then lower your flag to point to where the offence occurred to show where to take the kick from.
  4. Stay still like that until the ball has been placed for the free-kick.
3) Other linesperson duties
  • Substitutions
    As soon as the referee gives permission for a substitution to happen, hold your flag horizontally over your head with your arms straight until the referee signals for play to resume.
  • Unseen incidents
    The linesperson acts as a second pair of eyes for the referee. If they see an incident that has not been seen by the referee, it is their job to indicate the incident by holding the flag straight up.
  • Better view
    If the referee believes the linesperson had a better view of an incident, they will consult with the linesperson to determine the correct course of action.
  • Penalty kicks
    The linesman must stand on the goal line where the side of the penalty box meets it and decide whether the goalkeeper moved off the goal line before the penalty-taker kicked the ball and, whether the ball crossed the goal line.
  • Holding the Flag
    When you aren’t using the flag, keep it down and on the pitchside of your body so the ref can see it at all times. Especially don’t wave it about unless you want the ref’s attention.