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AYSO and Blow-Outs

The goal of any competition is to win. After all, how many times have you been on a team where you go into a game or match with the intention of loosing on purpose. In poker, you may want the worst hand if you are playing a game of lowball - but, even then, that is because the lowest hand wins. 

In AYSO, the kids are encouraged to play hard and not give up. At the same time, there is no desire to demoralize an opponent. Winning by a lot of goals against a weaker opponent is not challenging to your players, and being on the losing end of a wipe-out is also not fun. AYSO looks to the coaches to help mitigate situations where a blow-out is occurring or is in the process of occurring. 

A blow-out is winning by a goal differential of more than five (5) goals. At the AYSO national level, there is no penalty for this occurring, but many Sections, Areas and Regions do have penalties in place. For example, starting with the 2019 season, at the Area 2J tournament there will be a penalty in place for blow-outs. The tournament utilizes a scoring system for each match - six points for a win, three points for a tie, one point for each goal scored (up to three goals) and one point for a shut-out... that makes for a maximum of 10 points for a win. The blow-out penalty will be a one-point deduction for each goal past a five goal differential. Thus, if a teams wins 9 - 0, they get 10 points (six for the win, plus three for goals scored, plus one for a shut-out) minus four points (with a goal differential of nine, that is four more than the five allowed), for a net of six points.

Please use some of your weekly training time to go over this with your players. You will also likely need to explain it to the families. Some will not agree with it, but they must remember this is a recreational league, not a comp/club organization. If they want limitless scoring, they always have the option to move to one of those types of teams... though they will be paying a lot more money if their child makes the team, and those teams do not have minimum playing time.

As a coach, you need to work on how you will manage such situations. The time to make adjustments is not after your team is up by five goals. If you see a match is getting out of hand, make adjustments early, perhaps after going up by three goals, especially if it is early in the match. Options include:
  • Move your forwards/strikers back onto defense
  • Move your less-skilled players to forwards
  • Do this before you are up by five goals. The last thing you want to do is move a player to forward that normally does not play there and then tell them they are not allowed to score a goal
  • Only have one or two forwards
  • Defenders and mid-fielders must stay on their own side of the half-line
  • Only take shots from outside of the penalty area
  • Only take shots with their non-dominate foot
  • Only take shots from a pass, no dribbling through defenders and taking a shot
  • Intentionally shoot the ball wide of the goal (e.g. where the end-line and penalty box line meet) - sort of like target practice. This way they can work on the their skills such as ball handling and kick accuracy  
  • DON'T yell or have your players yell: NO MORE SCORING!!
Keep in mind that once half a match has been played, it is an official match. If things are really lopsided, consider talking with the other coach and mixing up the players to create balanced teams for the second half. Any scoring in the second half won't count in the match's final score - only the half-time score.

Note that a blow-out penalty is also in effect for the regular season. For the divisions where we are playing against other Area 2J teams, 12U-B and 12U-G, someone at the Area level is keeping track of all of the match scores. There is a difference in the scoring system though. Instead of a 10-point maximum for a match, it is only six points (three points for a win, one point for a tie - the rest of the possible points are the same). Thus, a blow-out in the regular season has a significant impact on the scoring of the match.

In addition to the Area tournament implementing a scoring penalty, the it also takes blow-outs in account with regards to sportsmanship. The winners of the Area tournament, and sometimes even a second-place team, qualify to advance to the Section 2 tournament in Foster City the second weekend in December. However, if a team repeatedly does not honor the spirit of the blow-out rule and wins the Area tournament, the Area can elect to not allow that team to advance to the Section 2 tournament.

Also keep in mind that the sportsmanship of the team (players and staff) and their spectators will also factor into whether or not a team is allowed to participate in the AYSO tournaments. Teams are sent as representatives of their respective Regions, Areas and Sections - in the past, there have been teams that were the best in their division for their Region, but the Region did not allow them to participate in the Area tournament due to poor sportsmanship. Specifically, as an example, Region 64 had a coach that refused to try to avoid blow-outs even after repeatedly being counseled - he wanted his team to win by the largest margin possible every match. His team took 1st place within their region. However, the region's board decided to not allow that team to advance to the Area tournament. That is an extreme example - but it has happened.

Please don't take this to mean that one blow-out will disqualify a team. If the referee notices that a coach is attempting to make adjustments but it still is not working, that will be taken into account (though a scoring differential penalty will still be administered). Also, own-goals are carefully looked. If a team scores an own-goal for the sole purpose of reducing the goal differential, the referee will make note of that. Likewise, if the team behind scores an own-goal in order to give the other team a more than five goal advantage (in hopes of the other team being penalized), that will also be noted.