Age Group Breakdown

Prior to the 2016-17 season, the U.S. Soccer Federation changed the age group cutoff date from August 1st to January 1st. This change caused a massive upheaval to existing teams as they were essentially split in half. Below are some of the main questions, if you have any additional questions, don't hesitate to contact us

WHY DID U.S. SOCCER CHANGE THE BIRTH-DATES FOR YOUTH SOCCER?

U.S. Soccer wanted the age groups to become easier to understand and conforms to the global standard.

Prior to the change, one of the biggest questions a new soccer parent had for the system was what age group is my child? With two birth years encompassing one age group in most cases, it was confusing as to what age group he or she would be a part of. With the new rules, if you were born in 2006 that’s what age group you would be part of moving forward.

With the change, U.S. Soccer now conforms with the global youth system. It will allow for the U.S. national scouting system to better identify players for our different national teams. In doing so, they have added age groups in our U.S. Youth National Team system to go along with the change.

ARE THERE DIFFERENT STANDARDS FOR RECREATION AND COMPETITIVE TEAMS?

The rules are the same for recreational teams and competitive teams. However, the whole point of the system change was to help bridge that gap between the rec and competitive programs at the younger age groups so that more kids can develop into better players technically earlier. This will benefit them down the road. In a sense, what they are doing to the field sizes and field players is a big part of that. More meaningful touches on the ball at both the rec and competitive levels will serve to raise the technical levels of our youngest players.

HOW CAN I DETERMINE WHAT AGE GROUP MY CHILD WILL PLAY?

The attached table illustrates the programs available based on birth year. 

HOW WILL THE CHANGE AFFECT FIELD SIZE, GOALS AND RULES FOR U-6 TO U-12 AGE GROUPS?

Under the new age groups of U6 to the U8 there won’t be much change to the field size but rather, the amount of field players. These games will be played on a 30 by 20-yard field with a 4 by 6-foot goal. There will be no goalies or offsides for these age groups. In addition, the length of the game will be 32 total minutes with four quarters lasting 8 minutes each. However, the U8 age group will be playing 3 quarters lasting 15 minutes each.

For U9 through U10, the field size will be 47 by 30 yards with a 7 v 7 field player format. Each team will have a goalie protecting a 6.5 by 18.5-foot goal with 6 field players in front of them. The game clock will consist of two 25-minute halves with a 10-minute break in between.

Lastly, the U11 and U12 age groups will be playing with the same goal size as the two younger age groups, and the offsides rule will be in effect. The game clock will increase by 10 minutes and will include two, 30-minute halves. The only differences here are the increased game clock and it will be a 9 versus 9 format.

WILL CHILDREN BE ABLE TO PLAY WITH THEIR FRIENDS IF THEY WERE BORN IN DIFFERENT YEARS?

The only possible way they can play with their friends is by “playing up”. For example, if your friends were born in 2006 and you were born the year 2007, you can play in the 2006 age group, but not the other way around. So there won’t be a chance for friends to play in the age group below them, only the age above them.

WILL COACHES TRY TO KEEP THEIR TEAMS TOGETHER?

Coaches will try to keep their teams together because of chemistry, longevity, or a number of other reasons. However, they will need to play the whole team up, which will actually have the opposite effect of the child’s technical development. Our hope is that coaches embrace this inevitable change, and think about the soccer player’s development and the broader idea that US Soccer is trying to instill when thinking about this subject. This is certainly the mentality we strive for within our club.