Implementing US Soccer changes to heading the ball in youth matches.
As some of you may have heard, AYSO has announced a rule change regarding heading the ball for players in our U-13 and younger divisions. Please read this carefully as it may be different from what you have heard, especially from travel soccer or other AYSO regions. This is a change to the rules. It is not a foul and is not a change to the Laws of the Game.
RESTRICTIONS ON HEADING:
Divisions U-11 and younger - Heading is banned in both practices and games.
Divisions U-12 and older - Heading is allowed IN GAMES; however heading for U-12 and U-13 IN PRACTICE is limited to a maximum of 30 minutes per week with no more than 15-20 headers per player.
Enforcing this rule is not optional. Please familiarize yourself with these procedures.
WHAT TO DO IF HEADING OCCURS IN A GAME FOR AGES U11 AND YOUNGER:
Determine if the player DELIBERATELY touched the ball with his/her head during a game.
In much the same way a referee must determine deliberate use of the hands during play, this new rule also requires the referee to make a judgement regarding whether the use of the head was deliberate or incidental. Please understand the difference between "deliberately" and "intentionally". Intent is not part of this rule, and we cannot see into the player's mind. Deliberate refers to the appearance that a player made a choice to act in a certain way.
If a player in U-9, U-10 or U-11 DELIBERATELY contacted the ball with his/her head during a game, award an Indirect Free Kick to the opposing team. For younger divisions, award a Direct Free Kick.
The Free Kick is to be taken from the place where the player touched the ball with his/her head.
If the Indirect Free Kick (U-9 and older) is awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team's penalty area, must be taken on the penalty area line at the point nearest to where the player touched the ball with his/her head.
If the Direct Free Kick (U-8 and younger) is awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team's goal area, it must be taken on the goal area line at the point nearest to where the player touched the ball with his/her head.
Do NOT issue a caution or send off, even for persistent infringement or denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and since we're talking about divisions younger than U-13, do not apply advantage.
The responsibility for making this decision lies solely with the Referee. Players, coaches and spectators MUST refrain from calling for this (e.g. no "Headball Ref!!").
We understand that there will be difficulties in introducing this and in getting consistent application. Please make sure that we are acting for the safety and enjoyment of the players, and please make sure to remind coaches in your pre-game talks that you are aware of this rule and will be enforcing it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of FAQs we have received about this change. Click on the question to see the complete answer.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) website is the best reference for the current Laws of the Game. Here are the relevant sections on free kicks:
Nope. Not your problem.
However, if you happen to see prohibited heading (U-11 and younger) during the pre-game practice, please remind the coach of the rule change.