Age Guide, Determination & Divisions

From AYSO Wiki

AYSO changed from a school year registration to a birth year registration in order to align with other youth soccer providers and the U.S. Soccer Player Development Initiatives.

The effective date of age determination for registration shall be the player’s age as of December 31 looking ahead of the Membership Year.  Example: For MY2023 the division the child will be placed in will be determined based on their age on December 31, 2024.

Participants who shall turn four years of age between January 1 and December 31 are eligible for AYSO Playground Soccer.

To help in determining the proper age and division for players, the following chart is provided and guidelines and rules are as follows from U.S. Soccer.

For more information about this change click here to be redirected to the U.S. Soccer website.

Here is the AYSO Age Guide chart for the current Membership Year.

Age Determination Chart update.jpg

Note: Birth years are much easier for parents to understand and clarifies that the standard age divisions are still only 2 year divisions.

Proof of Age

Since the Region has an obligation to ensure that its teams are as balanced as is reasonably possible including that players are of proper age, it is considered a best practice to have the parent present a birth certificate (or other government issued document containing the Date-of-Birth) at least once upon initial registration in the Region. Foster parents may not be able to produce a birth certificate, in which case, it is recommended that the Region accept the player with the foster parent’s best understanding the player’s birth date.

Minimum Age

The minimum age for participating in AYSO is 3 years of age at the start of activities for AYSO’s Playground Soccer program. For all other programs, the player’s age is determined by the age they are as of December 31st in the year in which the membership year ends.

Regions are not at liberty to use any other date to determine the playing age of its players.

Age Divisions

The National Rules & Regulations define the standard Age Divisions as follows:

Division Age
AYSO Playground Soccer Ages 3, 4 or 5 by the date of program commencement
AYSO Schoolyard Soccer 5 years but not younger than 4 years
6U 6 years and Under
8U 8 years and Under
10U 10 years and Under
12U 12 years and Under
14U 14 years and Under
16U 16 years and Under
19U 19 years and Under

Single Year Age Divisions

Regions with a sufficient number of registrants within a standard age division may, with the approval of the Area Director and Section Director, form single-year divisions within the standard age divisions described above. In some cases, a Region may institute single- year age divisions (i.e., 7U, 9U, or Birth Year, etc.) to accommodate a high number of registrations in certain ages. (Rules & Regulations Article III (G).

Combining Age Divisions

In Regions where there are not enough registrants to make any or all standard age divisions, divisions may be combined so that teams may be formed. In this case, it is strongly recommended that such combined age divisions not exceed a span of four years in the ages of the players. Consideration should also be given to how the differences in both physical and emotional maturity may impact player safety. Divisions with heading restrictions should not be combined with divisions that do not restrict heading. Combined divisions are classified on the basis of the oldest registrant and cannot, after the start of the season of play, be reclassified to a lower age division should the oldest registrant(s) leave or be removed from the team. (Rules & Regulations Article III (F).

Co-ed Divisions

AYSO strongly recommends that gender-specific teams be formed. However, in cases where there are an insufficient number of registrants to establish separate teams, mixed gender teams can be formed. The Region should remain focused on proper team balance in such cases. (Rules & Regulations Article III (K).

Transgender Players

AYSO accepts transgender players according to their gender identity, regardless of birth certificate and with no further documentation required. Acceptance of a transgender player does not change a single gender team to a co-ed team.

Playing Up/Playing Down an Age Division

AYSO’s National Rules and Regulations define AYSO’s Standard Age Divisions, consistent with US Soccer’s Player Development Initiatives, AYSO’s Age-Appropriate Coaching methodologies, and in the best interest of the player. From time to time, Regions may receive requests from parents for their child to be placed in an age division other than their standard division. These requests for an exception should be handled on a case-by-case basis annually and considered in the context of what is in the best interest of both the specific child as well as those children affected by the exception.

Requests to “play up” in the next older age division may be considered if doing so would be of genuine benefit to the child socially, developmentally, as well as athletically and as long as:

  • The Region secures formal written acknowledgement that this is what the parents want for their child and confirming that they believe their child is developmentally ready for that age division. Parents should acknowledge that this exception does not guarantee that future exceptions will be granted.
  • The Region determines that the child is developmentally able to safely play and compete in the next division. Children restricted by age from heading the ball should not be allowed to play up in a division where heading the ball is allowed.

Similarly, requests for an exception to “play down” an age division may be considered if doing so would be of genuine benefit to the child socially, developmentally, as well as athletically and as long as:

The Region secures a formal written request for an exception, expressing the need to play down and the need is determined to be truly warranted based on the developmental readiness of the child as opposed to a preference to be with classmates, friends, or siblings.

  • The Region determines that the child does not pose any greater safety risk to the children in the younger age division.
  • The Region secures confirmation from the child’s parents that the child may not be eligible to play with their team in competitions outside of the Region.
  • Full disclosure to all division coaches of the fact that a player has been approved to play down is required, but the reason for the approval is not subject to disclosure to the coaches.

Playground and Schoolyard Soccer

The AYSO Rules & Regulations require an exception to the Age Determination date for players in the Playground Soccer program. It requires the registration of those players who are 3 years of age by the start of soccer activities for Playground Soccer. This ensures that no player is younger than 3 years of age at the start of soccer activities.

Playground Soccer is a child development program using the theme of soccer to help children 3 to 5 years of age learn fundamental motor skills like running, skipping, jumping and throwing which required to play sports. Playground Soccer must not have any competition.

Schoolyard Soccer is designed to introduce soccer skills and the concept of a game to 4 and 5 year olds. It is considered a transition program to the standard team/ league play concepts of 6U, 8U, etc.

Under no circumstance, may children younger than 3 years of age participate in AYSO activities.

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