Heading Rules for the AYSO National Open Cup
On Feb. 16, 2016, the AYSO National Board of Directors passed a change to AYSO’s rules and regulations related to heading in accordance with the U.S. Soccer Federation’s (USSF) Return 2 Recover program. These changes will be implemented at the 2016 AYSO National Games.
The new rule bans heading for all 11U and below division players. If an AYSO program doesn’t have single age divisions, heading is banned for 12U and below. Heading for players in 14U will be 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 13U and above.
The new policy also includes that an indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team if a player age 10 or younger, deliberately touches the ball with his/her head during a game. The indirect free kick is to be taken from the place where the player touched the ball with his/her head. 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 where the player touched the ball with his/her head. This policy was put into effect so referees, coaches and players can all align with the change quicker.
Safety is very important to AYSO as a whole. Heading was already banned for 10U and below and extending it to 11U/12U was a way to ensure that players are older and more developed when attempting heading to avoid preventable head injuries.