Somebody said my 10 year-old can no longer head the ball. WTH?

FAQ Administrator
07-08-2016 16:18

The Impact of Upcoming Heading Rules and Birth-Year Changes for 2016-2017
Until the US Youth Soccer Technical Group issues a final document on the subject of heading, some of the information provided below is subject to change.  However; based upon the guidelines outlined in the initial position papers, we are somewhat confident that the information below will be adopted.  We understand that this may impact the formation of your teams and how they are declared, but we are limited in what we can provide to you in terms of guiding principles until the final papers are released. 

Due to a settlement of lawsuit between parents of an injured player and the US Soccer Federation, an agreement was reached to eliminate the heading of a soccer ball in games and practices for all 10 year-old players. Given that many players on U11 teams will be 10 years old; the initial policy that has been released eliminates heading in games for all U11 and younger teams. Although some U12 players (2005) born late in the year will be 10 years old during a part of the season, FYSA has told us that they are allowed to participate in heading divisions as a U12 if they have 2005 birthdates.  This is one of the areas that we have not confirmed fully, but understand there was an agreement reached that those players would be allowed to head if they are a true U12. 
As a result of this restriction, SFUYSA is required to comply with it and is expected to adopt the following rule changes.


  1. For All Limited Substitution Divisions:

If a player suffers a significant blow to the head and is removed from the game to be evaluated for a suspected concussion or head injury, that substitution will not count against a team’s total number of allowed substitutions in the game.
If the player with the suspected head injury has received clearance from a concussion-qualified Health Care Professional to return to the game, the player may re-enter at any stoppage of play. The evaluated player must replace the original substitute and will not count as a substitution.
The player that was temporarily substituted into the game for the player with the suspected head injury will be considered an available substitute and permitted to re-enter the game as a standard substitute per normal league rules.

  1. Consistent with the US Soccer mandates on heading the ball, intentional heading is banned for ALL division players U11 (including U12 divisions without a single age division) and below in SFUYSA games.
  2. In cases where U11 and U12 teams are combined into a single division for competitive balance, the combined U11/12 division will be a No-Heading Division. 
  3. 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.
  4. The indirect free kick is to be taken from the place where the player touched the ball with his/her head.
  5. An indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team’s goal area, must be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to the where the player touched the ball with his/her head.
  6. No U9, U10, or U11 teams will be allowed to play up into U12+ divisions. However, U11 and younger players will be allowed to play up into Combined U11/12 No-Heading divisions.
  7. No players classified as U11 or younger are permitted to play on any teams participating in U12 or higher divisions in which heading is allowed.

What does all of this mean?
SFUYSA will continue to offer individual age groups in all divisions for the Regular Season.  The U11 Division will not have heading, but the U12 Division will.  No U11’s or younger on a U12 team.  No U11 teams playing in U12 divisions. We do not anticipate initially offering a combined U11/12 Non-Heading Division, but in cases where there are insufficient teams to form a complete U11 or U12 team, we may combine those ages for competitive balance, etc.  In a combined division there would be no heading.  We do not anticipate offering this type of combined division for Division 1.
 Age Groups and the Birth-Year Impact to the season:

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