US Youth Soccer announces new age group labels, heading restrictions
FRISCO, Texas (Via US Youth Soccer) — 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 has outlined the relabeling of age group terminology and offered 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.)
Please note that the following US Youth Soccer competitions are introducing birth-year registration in the 2016-17 season:
- US Youth Soccer National Championships Series — including national, regional and state competitions
- US Youth Soccer Presidents Cup — including national, regional and state competitions
- US Youth Soccer National League
- US Youth Soccer Regional Leagues
- US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program
Heading Restriction Implementation Recommendations
The 11-U play group, formerly referred to as U-11, is the group most affected by players age 10 and younger because players turn 11 years old over the range of a year. Therefore, deliberate heading is not allowed in 11-U games.
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), then that 10-year-old or younger player may not head the ball regardless of the age group in which the he or she 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. 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.