2016/2017 Law, Policy, and Registration Changes

Fall 2016 brought several changes in the soccer rules (called laws) and policies for AYSO soccer.  Fall 2017 brings more, and more dramatic, changes to the laws and AYSO policies, and to our Registration procedure.  On this page, we give a brief description of the changes you'll see.  If you want more information about the changes, please send us an email using our Contact Us page.

Why the Changes?

As you read about the changes to AYSO soccer in 2016 and 2017, you might wonder why we are making the changes.  Some of the changes such as the heading restrictions are intended to make the game safer for young players.  Others are intended to improve player development by introducing skills and tactics to players when they are physically and mentally ready for them (and not before).  

AYSO is one of several youth soccer organizations that are members of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) that governs soccer in the United States, including the US men's and women's national teams.  USSF is itself a member of FIFA, the organization that governs soccer worldwide.  That's why we follow the FIFA "Laws of the Game" as our game rules.  (FIFA's Laws of the Game allow us to modify some of the laws for younger players, such as by playing with fewer than 11 players per side.)

Recently, USSF evaluated the quality of youth soccer in the USA and decided to change some things so that youth soccer programs would develop better players.  They named these changes the Player Development Initiative (PDI), and every US youth soccer program that is a member of USSF (directly or indirectly) is required to abide by the new policies.  This means that all AYSO regions and most, if not all, nearby youth soccer clubs will also be making these changes.

In some cases, AYSO was already doing what the USSF PDI now requires.  For instance, for many years AYSO's younger age divisions have played "small sided games" with fewer than 11 players per team.  With the PDI, USSF has recognized the value of small-sided games and is now requiring team sizes, field sizes, and game lengths that are very similar to what AYSO has been using for years.

Again, if you have questions about these changes, please send contact us.

Fall 2017 Changes

  • Age divisions:  Age divisions used to have names like 'U12' which means "under 12."  Age divisions now have names like "12U" which means "12 and under," and we now use the player's age at the end of the registration year to determine which age division a player is in.  The age cut-off date is now 12/31 instead of 7/31.
  • Punting:  For 12U and younger age divisions, heading the ball was prohibited in 2016 to reduce the risk of concussion.  To further decrease the possibility of heading the ball, and to encourage teams to learn to build their attack from the back, punting and drop-kicks by the goalkeeper are no longer allowed in 12U and younger divisions.
  • 6U: 6U now plays 4v4 instead of 3v3.
  • 8U: 8U now plays 4v4 instead of 5v5, on smaller fields than before, and with smaller goals.  Instead of throw-ins, players will use pass-ins if the ball goes out of play.  These changes are intended to give players more touches on the ball, to get the ball back in play quickly when it goes out of play, and to control the number of new concepts and skills that players have to master at their young age.
  • 10U: 10U still plays 7v7, but some fields may be smaller than they were.  Fields now have a "build-out line" midway between the halfway line and the top of each penalty area.  For a goal kick, the opponents must move away from the goal to the other side of the build-out line and the player taking the goal kick must kick it to a teammate closer to the goal than the build-out line.  If the goalkeeper has the ball in his or her hands, he or she must roll, throw, or pass the ball to a teammate closer to the goal than the build-out line.  The change is intended to teach teams to possess the ball and build their attack from the back, rather than kicking the ball directly to the middle of the field where there is a much higher likelihood of losing possession of the ball.
  • Registration: all AYSO regions are transitioning to use a new type of web site for player registration.  The registration pages are streamlined, and the site allows payment of registration fees (but not equipment purchases) by credit card.  Eventually, the information we have on this web site will also be transitioned over to the new site.
  • Registration fees and equipment prices:  We have kept registration fees and equipment prices the same for several years.  Due to increases in AYSO national fees and increases in equipment costs from our vendors, we are forced to raise our registration fees and equipment prices a bit this season.
Fall 2016 Changes
  • Heading restrictions:  Players 12U and below are not allowed to head the ball in practice or games.  Players 14U and above can head the ball in games and practices, though 14U players are allowed to practice heading no more than 30 minutes per week.
  • Kickoffs:  The ball may be kicked in any direction.  As before, players must be in their own half of the field when the ball is kicked, and players of the non-kicking team must be outside the center circle.
  • Offside:  After an offside infraction occurs, the indirect free kick restart is taken from the location of the infraction (where the offending player became involved in the play).
  • Injury treatment: Players injured by a foul resulting in a yellow or red card may be treated on the field and left in the match if the referee thinks the time required for treatment will be brief.