Age Classification and Team Size

Changes: U.S. Soccer will standardize small-sided game participation and field size based on player age groups, while also aligning birth-year registration calendars with the start of the calendar year and run from January to December.

Birth Year registration:Birth-year registration calendars will now align with the start of the calendar year and run from January to December, rather than August to July as it had previously. For example, a U-15 player (players 15 years old or younger) would have a birth year of 2000 (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31) for the 2015 registration year. In 2016, U-15 players would be born in 2001 or earlier. Birth-year registration applies to all player age groups and not just players age 12 and younger.

The initiative will align registration with the international standard, while simultaneously providing clearer information on player birth dates to combat relative age effect.Relative age effect refers to the selection bias related to players that are more physically mature than their peers due to being born earlier in the year. U.S. Soccer seeks a balance of players that are born throughout the year so that all players, those born in the earlier months, and those born later have equal opportunity to grow and develop as soccer players.

Small-Sided Standards:What does “Small-Sided Games” mean? These are soccer games with fewer players competing on a smaller sized field. These are fun games that involve the players more because fewer players are sharing one ball.The field dimensions and number of players on the field will increase in size from 4v4 to 7v7 to 9v9 as players age, up until they reach the U-13 age group and begin to play full 11v11 matches.

Benefits:

  • Repeat contact ball-dribbling, passing, shooting and improvisation (creativity with the ball)
  • Players are no longer allowed to hide on the field
  • Reduce bunching no buzz ball soccer
  • Development of tactics at an earlier age
  • More playing time and participation by all players
  • Players learn self-guided responsibility on the field when to defend, when to attack, and transition
  • Reduce levels player boredom on the field
  • Increase comfort level of a young soccer player
  • More touches on the ball per game for all players

More fun and personal enjoyment for players

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