The American Youth Soccer Organization
recently announced a change its rules and regulations related to heading in accordance with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Return 2 Recover program. The new rule, passed by the AYSO national board of directors, bans heading for all under-11 and below division players. If an AYSO program doesn’t have single age divisions, heading is banned for under-12 and below division players.
Heading was already banned for under-10 and below, and extending it to under-11 and under-12 was a way to ensure that players are more developed when attempting heading to avoid preventable head injuries.
“The safety of the kids who play this beautiful game is our biggest priority,” said Mark Stewart, AYSO national president, “and being able to take that and align it with USSF made this an even easier decision.”
The new rule also states that an indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team if a player age 10 or younger deliberately touches the soccer ball with his or her head during a game. This policy was put into effect so referees, coaches, and players can all align with the change quicker.
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Heading for players in under-13 and under-14 divisions will be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes per week with no more than 15-20 headers per player during practices. There is currently no restriction on heading in matches in under-13 and above divisions.
“It’s important that players learn proper heading technique at the appropriate age,” said Mike Hoyer, acting national executive director.
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