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Did You Know? - No more heading the ball for U12 and under players

AYSO National has come down with a new policy that thee shall be no more heading of the ball for all players U12 and below beginning the 2016 Spring circuit.

In resolution to a class-action lawsuit regarding the number of concussions in the sport of soccer, the US Soccer Federation has issued NEW guidelines in regards to heading the soccer ball. With AYSO being a proud member of US Soccer, along with many other soccer organizations, these new rules and regulations will take effect immediately. Children the age of 10 years old or younger will no longer be permitted to head the ball in practices or games.

FIFA, U.S. Soccer, and AYSO have now mandated a ban from heading the soccer ball in any U12 two year divisions, U11 single-year divisions as well as all younger age divisions, along with restrictions in heading the ball during training for U14 aged divisions.

What does this mean?

The exact specifics of what will happen in a game situation and what has been added to the AYSO Rules and Regulations is listed below.

However, moving forward with the training of AYSO coaches, the coach instruction curriculum will most likely have some changes in regards to the U12 coaching course, to no longer include the proper techniques for heading the ball. The techniques will most likely be introduced in the Intermediate Coach Course, which pertains to U14 division coaches and players.

Bottomline, to help prevent head injuries at the younger ages, and for the safety of the players, deliberately heading the soccer ball is prohibited. We will obviously have a transitional time when players, coaches, parents and spectators are adjusting to this new rule and regulation, so we ask for everyone’s patience, support and flexibility while adjusting to this change.

As anyone can imagine, this transition may affect several aspects of the game, not just for the players, but the coaches, spectators as well as the referees who are to enforce the laws and rules of the game, as this is a new rule in soccer in the US. Again, this rule change is effective immediately for the age divisions of U12 and younger, at your practices, and upcoming games in the Spring 2016 season.


  1. Consistent with the US Soccer mandates on heading the ball, heading is banned for ALL division players U11 (including U12 divisions without a single age division) and below in both practices and games.

  2. An indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team if a player deliberately touches the ball with his/her head during a game.

  3. The indirect free kick is to be taken from the place where the player touched the ball with his/her head.

  4. An indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team’s penalty area, must be taken on the penalty area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to the where the player touched the ball with his/her head.

  5. Neither cautions nor send offs shall be issued for persistent infringement or denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity related to the heading infraction.

  6. Heading for players in U14 age division is limited to a maximum of thirty (30) minutes per week with no more than 15-20 headers, per player. There is no restriction on heading in matches in U14 division.

Protecting the health and safety of athletes and preventing injuries is critically important to AYSO and US Soccer. US Soccer has taken a lead in education and research, and in result, make changes to improve player safety.

Thank you for your participation in AYSO and we look forward to another exciting, fun, and safe new year of soccer.

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