Birth Year Change Q & A

U.S. Soccer Mandate: Birth Year Change

What is the ‘U.S. Soccer mandate’ and ‘birth year change’ I keep hearing mentioned?  U.S. Soccer has mandated that youth soccer teams be created by birth year moving forward. For example in the 2017-18 season U9 teams will be 2009 birth years, U10 teams will be ‘08 birth years, U11 teams will be ‘07 birth years and so on. Please reference the 2017-18 birth year matrix below for guidance.

Where can I find out more about the USYS changes?

Why is U.S. Soccer making this change?  In the words of U.S. Soccer, “to be in line with the other 208 countries that register youth players by their year of birth. The change will also make it easier for American club teams to play internationally”. Nether United and all local, regional and national level programs across the country will support this change. However, we do understand that it will cause some concerns during the transitional period and will work with players and their families to ensure the transition unfolds as smoothly as possible.

When is Nether incorporating this change? Why?  We implemented the change for the 2016-2017 season in accordance with U.S. Soccer’s Best Practice Recommendation. An important factor in this timing is that the leagues, tournaments and Cups in which our teams play are incorporated the change for the 2016-2017 season. Instituting the transition now will ensure our players compete at the appropriate level.

Are other clubs making the switch next season?  Yes, all clubs in our area have implemented the birth year change for the 2016-2017 season.

Does the change affect all travel team types? How about all age groups?  The change affects all team types and age groups. 

Are leagues and tournaments following the new age group requirements this year or waiting until the mandated 2017-2018 season?  Yes, leagues and tournaments have been following the new birth year requirements for the 2016-2017 season.

How do I know which age group corresponds with my child’s birth year?  Please reference the matrices below.

Season 2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
Birth Year Age Group Age Group Age Group Age Group
2014 U6
2013 U6 U7
2012 U6 U7 U8
2011 U6 U7 U8 U9
2010 U7 U8 U9 U10
2009 U8 U9 U10 U11
2008 U9 U10 U11 U12
2007 U10 U11 U12 U13
2006 U11 U12 U13 U14
2005 U12 U13 U14 U15
2004 U13 U14 U15 U16
2003 U14 U15 U16 U17
2002 U15 U16 U17 U18
2001 U16 U17 U18 U19
2000 U17 U18 U19
1999 U18 U19
1998 U19

It appears my child is being pushed up two age groups. Is that correct? Won’t he/she be at a disadvantage?  Although it looks like your son/daughter has “skipped” a soccer year, he/she will actually have an additional year at the end of the age group spectrum. The last age group currently is U18 but with the new changes, U19 will be the final age group most players will experience as high school seniors. Ultimately your child will play with players born in the same calendar year. Depending on the month they were born, the new mandate may initially benefit players (one of the older players on their new team) or challenge them (one of the youngest players). But both effects are short term as it will all even out physically and mentally as players get to the high school age groups.

Can my child tryout for an older age group or ‘play up’ a year? 

All players must attend the 1st age appropriate tryout date scheduled. For a player to be selected to play up with an older team, the evaluator & respective coach of that team must determine that the player will be an impact player who needs to play up to ensure he/she is appropriately challenged. If a player is interested in trying out for an older team, the following steps should be followed:

  1. The family of the player looking to tryout up a year connects with current coach for their recommendation.
  2. The coach contacts the Club's Technical Committee to recommend player to tryout a year up.
  3.  If approved, the Club Director notifies the family and coach via email.

U19 – is that right? Yes, there will be a combined U18/U19 age group to ensure that all high school seniors are able to play youth soccer before heading off to college.

My child has been selected for a team that has a mix of 8th and 9th grade players. Will they play in a fall league? We fully understand that this could be an issue with U14 teams due to the new birth year change. We will not know which teams can play in a fall league and which teams cannot until we finalize rosters during the tryout process. The make-up of the team will determine the league path but we will work with all players that are affected by the decision to ensure they are training and playing within the club.

My child won’t be with her current teammates any more. Can’t they all stay together?  With this mandate, we do not believe keeping a team together is in the best interests of either the players or team. They would be required to play against older players and teams, and the resulting experience would not be a positive one. There will be many instances where players will still be with some (or many) of their teammates, but that all depends on the birth years of the current players on that specific team. Ultimately the goal will be to form teams of similar levels of ability to play against other teams of similar ability as this approach maximizes both player development and the overall experience. The exception will be for high school aged teams who have 1-2 years left to compete in club soccer. We will work with the staff for those specific teams to see what the best path for them are.

Are there any other changes resulting from the U.S. Soccer mandates?  Field and goal sizes as well as the number of players on the field will be adjusted slightly for some of the youngest age groups per mandated requirements. Age groups U9/U10 will play 7v7; U11/U12 will be 9v9; and, U13-U19 will remain 11v11.

What can I do to prepare my child for these changes?  Nether has already held numerous birth year training sessions to ensure our players and their families can become familiar with the players they will be potentially playing with in the new age groups. These training events leading up to tryouts are to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible. We recognize tryouts are already a stressful process without the birth year changes coming into play. We are committed to doing everything we can to help our players and their families get through this process.

For any additional questions you may have Karl Reddick, Director of Coaching.

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