Birth Year Change


In August, US Youth Soccer announced changes to small sided playing formats and how age groups will be formed. Michigan State Youth Soccer has joined with other states in our region and is preparing leagues and clubs to make these changes starting in Fall 2016. As a club we have been reviewing the mandates, and attending meetings with MYSA and GVSA to better understand how these mandates will impact our club.

 The mandate people have the most questions about is using birth year to form teams. Previously in Michigan teams were assembled using a birth year from August 1- July 31st. This aligned the teams closely with the school year. Beginning with the fall 2016 season we will form teams based on birth year. For example, my U12B team has 9 players born in 2003, and 5 players born in 2004. Under the new format, they would play at their birth year starting in fall 2016. Players born in 2003 will play U14 and players born in 2004 will play U13.

 The second change coming from US Soccer is the mandate of small sided games with specific changes occurring in regard to alterations to the field size, goals and rules. The result will be a decrease in 11-vs-11 competitions in lieu of more 9-vs-9 and 7-vs-7 competitions.  Fewer players on the field means more touches on the ball and more involvement in the game, which helps develop more individual skill. Players who are more skilled may become more confident and comfortable when in possession of the ball. The ratio of players to field size is designed to assist players with making the right kind of decisions and improving their awareness. As players get older, and numbers increase on bigger fields, this approach builds on itself. And as players get older, the building block approach also allows them to better integrate into a team model where they develop partnerships with other players that make up the team. Overall, the standards provide for an age appropriate environment where players can achieve these objectives. 

US Soccer has prepared some additional information that will give you more detail on the small sided games.