Birth Year Initiatives
U.S. Soccer, the governing body that U.S. Youth Soccer and US Club Soccer are sanctioned by, has established new player development initiatives which feature new standards related to birth-year registration and small-sided games. The leagues and cup competitions that WFF participate in will all change to birth year registration beginning in the 2016-17 season.
The Birth Year Chart below provides an example on how to calculate age group and birth year. Year minus age group equals birth year. For the purposes of calculation, it is the second year of a split-year competitive season which determines what number should be used to calculate age group. Example: 2018 – U7 = 2011
West Florida Flames will follow U.S. Soccer’s Birth Year Registration mandate and Florida Youth Soccer Association‘s (FYSA) required implementation timeline. Birth year registration will be used for the 2016-17 season.
FAQ’s about Birth Year registration.
What is the Birth Year Registration mandate and who does it affect?
Per U.S. Soccer’s mandate, all US Youth Soccer competitive members will be required to transition age grouping of teams from school-year based (Aug. 1-July 31) to birth year based (Jan. 1-Dec. 31). Now, age groups will be determined by a player’s birth year.
How does the Birth Year Registration affect my Classic son or daughter?
Your son or daughter will be placed in age groups based solely on his or her birth year.
- Sarah’s birthday is January 10, 2003. She will play in the 2003 age group.
- Billy’s birthday is November 2002. He will play in the 2002 age group.
Will WFF still call age groups “U18, U17, U16, and etc.”? No. We will refer to age groups only by their birth year.
- Sarah plays in the 2003 age group. Her team name is ’03 Ladies Black.
- Billy plays in the 2002 age group. His team name is ’02 Grey.
What age group will my son or daughter play in?
WFF Birth Year Chart 2016-2017
|Age Group||Birth Year|
*New group for 2016-2017
Why is Birth Year Registration going into effect?
U.S. Soccer is mandating all competitive members to use Birth Year Registration, and FYSA is requiring all competitive teams to implement this mandate starting in Fall 2016.
Will my son/daughter be able to play up? Historically, WFF’s decision to allow a player to play up is solely based on ability and the individual player’s best interests. While we are adopting the new birth year registration mandate, we reserve the right to allow any player play up if we feel it is in the best interest of that player.
What can we do as a Parent/s? We ask you educate yourself on the effects the Birth Year Registration will have on your son or daughter, and share the results with them. Also, we are offering optional Birth Year Training for our boys and girls this Spring. These trainings not only allow our staff to better prepare for the changes, but also the players as they will be able to experience training with their future teammates.
Why is birth year registration going into effect for all levels of play and all age groups? Having players train and play according to their age and developmental stage supports the objectives of the small sided standards by focusing on the physiological and developmental needs of the player. This change is meant to better safeguard the development of youth players at all ages and levels.
Why can’t there be different standards for recreational and competitive teams? There is no universal definition of what separates recreational from competitive soccer. In addition to supporting the overall objectives of player development, U.S. Soccer believes that having separate registration systems based on undefined levels of play would create unnecessary confusion, and this would not provide a consistent approach across the soccer landscape. Players should also be provided the opportunity to develop to best of their abilities regardless of the level of play they are participating in.
Is my son or daughter still going to be able to play with his or her friends and classmates? The answer to this depends on a variety of factors, and one major consideration is how your club is making teams. Playing on a team with all of your friends isn’t always a reality in the current environment. This is similar to not having all of your friends in the same class or classes at school. Another factor is that the age cutoff used for school registration varies across the country. This means that there are already a variety of unique player age and grade combinations. Participation in scholastic sports can also impact the composition of some teams, so clubs should plan accordingly for players leaving club soccer for school sports. The placement of individual players on specific teams will remain a function of the local club and league to help find the players the best possible environment for their development.
Don’t you realize that you’re breaking up my existing team? U.S. Soccer recognizes that making these changes can impact existing teams in the short-term. However, players joining and leaving teams is something that already happens regularly throughout country. There are a variety of factors that require teams to evolve and adapt including players maturity rates, moving away, focusing on new interests or their soccer abilities differentiating from their peers. Again, both small sided standards and birth year registration support the development of the individual player as a priority over a team success.
How can teams continue to be registered together? Players still have the ability to “play up” with older teammates. In addition to being on a team with their peers, “playing up” can also allow players to compete in a more challenging environment, which can aid in their future development.
Will a player miss any time playing soccer due to the change to birth year registration? No. Players will have the ability to play with their birth year team, or “play up” with teams in older birth years.
What is “playing up” and are players able to “play down”? Players have the ability to “play up” with teammates at older age groups, based on birth year. Players are not permitted to “play down” with teammates at younger age groups, based on birth year.
What is “relative age effect”? Relative age effect (RAE) refers to the selection bias towards players born earlier in the calendar year. Registering players according to birth year will help everyone understand and better identify the potential for bias. Birth year registration is not intended or expected to eliminate relative age effect.
How does this change fix “relative age effect”? The player development initiatives do not claim to fix this issue. However, having players grouped by birth year does make it easier to understand for parents and coaches.
How do I determine the birth year used for a competition? Birth year registration should be based on the year in which the season ends. For example, if a season begins in the fall of 2017 and ends in the summer of 2018 (ex: 2017-18 season), the players would be registered based on their age in the year 2018. Competitions that take place in a single year (ex: fall of 2018 only) should use that year to determine birth year. To simplify determining the age group, just subtract the birth year from the year the season ends.
Year Season Ends – Birth Year = Age Group:
- 2017-18 – 2003 = U15
- 2022-23 – 2016 = U7
- 2018 – 2012 = U6
Please refer to the Birth Year and Season Matrix for more detailed information.
What are some practical approaches to help manage the team environment? Embrace the diminished role of the team concept at younger ages and have players participate as a pool of players. One method is to try using mixed age groups for teams based on the small sided standards. An example of this would be a U11/12 team instead of separate U11 and U12 teams. For younger ages, you could create teams based on the first and last 6 months of the year so that players are organized Jan. to June and July to Dec. Offering multiple teams per birth year can help diminish the effects of RAE and assist with managing scholastic sport participation.