U.S. Soccer introduced two major initiatives in youth development in an attempt to advance youth players’ individual skill and provide them with the best opportunity to improve.
The changes involve adjusting birth-year registration calendars to provide more clarity and mandating new field size standards based on age groups.
These new initiatives will be fully mandated by August, 2017.
With the current birth-year calendars in place, registrants are easily confused about what age group they belong to. Are they placed in U-15 rather than U-14 because they were born in a specific year, even if they were born in June?
The new initiative involving birth-year registration calendars adds clarification to the placement process. Players born in a certain year now belong in that certain age group.
Birth-year registration calendars currently run from August to July, with the summer date correlated to the academic calendar.
The new initiative will align the registration calendar with the international regulations, putting the US in line with the rest of the world, by switching the cutoff dates from January to December.
For example, a U-15 player would have the birth year of 2000 (January 1 – December 31) for the 2015 registration year.
The new rule will apply to all age groups, not just age 12 and younger. However, the change will not force dissolution of age-group based teams that already play together.
Field Size Regulations
U.S. soccer created new small-sided initiatives to provide players with a more age appropriate environment as they develop. The standards are focused on players from the U-6 to U-12 age groups.
Field size and number of players on the field per team will increase as teams age, eventually resulting in a full 11v11 match starting with the U-13 age group. The field dimensions will increase from 4v4 to 7v7 to 9v9.
By limiting the numbers and playing on a smaller field size, the players will have the chance to multiply their contact with the ball and become an active player in the game at all times.
For further details on these two new initiatives, reference the U.S. Soccer website.
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