US Youth Soccer announces relabeling of age groups and heading restriction recommendations
FRISCO, Texas (Aug. 30, 2016) — The 2016-17 youth soccer season will be a transitional year as leagues, clubs and teams begin to implement the U.S. Soccer mandates. US Youth Soccer would like to outline the relabeling of age group terminology and offer recommendations for implementing the heading restrictions.
US Youth Soccer is in the process of relabeling age groups — moving the word “under” to the opposite side of the numeral to reflect the new player registration by birth year. For example, the Under-10 age group becomes 10-and-Under to clarify that players in the age group can be 10 years old and younger. With this change, the shorthand for labeling age groups will change from U-10 to 10-U.
For those clubs or leagues adopting player registration by year of birth for the 2016-17 soccer year, here is a chart that shows the birth year for that season. Please note that when determining the age group for a season, the year the competition ends should be used. For example, a player born in 2007 would be in the 10-and-Under age group for the 2016-17 soccer year (2017 – 2007 = 10.)
Heading Restriction Implementation Recommendations
Deliberate heading is not allowed in U11 games. When teams are formed under the school registration format then much of the team roster is comprised of 10-year-olds. If a 10-year-old is playing with players 11 years old then none of the players may head the ball in a match.
Teams formed by birth year registration may have 10-year-olds on an 11 and Under team. US Youth Soccer recommends in that case none of the players may head the ball in a match - if a player 10 or younger is on either team then none of the players may head the ball.
If a 10-year-old or younger player is playing in an age group older than 11-U (ex: 10-year-old playing with a 12-U team), a 10-year-old or younger player may not head the ball regardless of the age group in which the 10-year-old participates. Special note: the overriding principle is that a player age 10 or younger may not head the ball no matter which age group the player plays in. This requires education and support from the coach and parent to instruct the player accordingly.
US Youth Soccer suggests that any league that combines 11-U and 12-U for competition should strongly consider not allowing heading in any game in that combined group’s play.
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