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Changes to Youth Soccer

There has been a shake-up in US Youth Soccer with a change of the dividing date for age groups to January 1st.  This puts the US in line with the rest of the world as opposed to our existing date of August 1st.  The good news is that rather than trying to figure out which “U” group your child naturally fits in, divisions will go by the year of their birth.  US Soccer will still categorize age groups with the “Under” designation (example: U9, U10, U11, etc). However, the definition of these categories will change, beginning with the 2016-17 season. This is being done in order to align the definition to the birth year changes.

Example:

  • U10 Current Definition: Player must be aged 10 or younger.
  • U10 New Definition: Player must be born in 2007.

The result for many players will be that they seem to skip an age group between the Spring 2016 and Fall 2016 seasons.  This will be the same for all SCYSL and MCYSA players and indeed all across the country, so don’t panic.  Players will not miss out on a year of playing. Under the new definition an additional division will be added. Players will now be able to play up to U15 at the recreational level. This is a 'mandate', meaning that ALL youth soccer clubs MUST comply, without exception.

What does this mean for your child? Players will not be grouped together based on their grade level. Players may be placed on a team with other players a grade above or behind them. Skylands Soccer Club and SCYSL, at the recreation level, has always defined their divisions based on a two year bracket, example - U10 is made up of U9 and U10 players. In following this age bracket your child has always played on a team with other players older or younger than themselves. This will not change.  At many levels players in the same grade will still be together. The only change is the division brackets is the addition of the U15 division which will be comprised of U13, U14 and U15 players. The divisions for Skylands Soccer Club's 2016-17 season will be as follows:

Another change mandated by US Soccer will be the number of players on the field and the size of the fields and goals. 

Below is a listing of how the age groups will be determined for the 2016‐2017 season and their game format:

Little Kickers - 2013 birth year
U6: 2011-2012 birth year - playing small sided, 4v4 without goalies, playing on a mini field
U8:  2009-2010 birth year - playing small sided, 4v4 without goalies, playing on a mini field
U10:  2007-2008 birth year - playing small sided , 7v7, playing on a developmental field
U12: 2005-2006 birth year - playing small sided, 9v9, playing on a half-field
U15: 2002-2004 birth year - playing full field, 11v11

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1) My child’s best friends are in the older age group, may she/he register for the older age group to be with friends? Unfortunately, no. Players will need to register for the age group corresponding to their year of birth.

2) My child was born on December 31 and is very small. May she/he register for the younger age group? No, this is against US Soccer regulations and would be considered cheating.

3) My child is in 4th grade. All of her classmates are in the next older age group. Can you make an exception, based on her grade? Again, unfortunately, no. We realize that the children in the same grade will be in different team age groups, but we are required to comply with the changes which will go into effect throughout the United States. Current teams have players on the same team who are in different grades so this is not anything new.

4) Why is the club so inflexible about making exceptions? This is NOT a policy made by Skylands Soccer Club. The policy is made by US Soccer and is consistent throughout the country. In fact, just about every country in the world will be playing by the January 1st cutoff.

5) What changes will  be implemented for small-sided games pursuant to the mandate?

    * The number of players o the field will change based on the division of play - U6 and U8 will play 4v4 with no goalkeepers, U10 will play 7v7,
       U12  will play 9v9
    A Build Out Line will introduced at the U10 level to enable players to learn to build up play from the back third of the field.  Opposition
        players will have to be behind this line when the goalie is in possession of the ball.
    * No Punting will be allowed at the U6, U8 or U10 levels. Goalies must throw, roll or pass/strike the ball off the ground.
    * The Field Sizes will be decreasing at the U8 and U10 levels. During this transition period, we should expect some inconsistencies in field
       size  from club to club and venue to venue.

6) Why is there a reduction of the field size at the younger levels?  Again, this is the result of moving to a uniform national standard. Field sizes across the country will have to be adjusted to  meet the new standard. This change will, hopefully, promote player development by allowing our developing players to get more touches on the ball and experience developing their technical abilities by playing in smaller spaces.