Playing Up/Playing Down Policy

Players are placed into divisions based upon the National AYSO guidelines. These
guidelines can be found on the National AYSO site here.

Before anything else, the initial considerations to any special request to playing up or playing down are:
  • Safety of all players
  • No ill effect to the division that player would normally be in. For example, moving a player from one division would mean that there would not be enough players in that division
  • Another player being blocked from participating in the other division. For example, moving a player to an older division would mean that another player is not allowed to participate (the division is full)

Playing Up

Occasionally, a parent may request that a child play-up to the next higher level. We generally follow the AYSO National Guidelines, but allow for some exceptions exceptions:
  • Combining divisions - for some divisions (normally 16U and above), we may not have enough players to form complete teams in two consecutive age divisions. In this case, we may combine the players from the two age divisions and form one team. This team would need to compete at the older age division. For example, if 16U players are combined with 18U players to form one team, the combined team will play in the 18U division.
  • Need for players in an age division - if an age division is in need of players to be able to form a team, and the next-lower age division has an abundance of players, then some of the older players in the lower age division may be given the opportunity to play up. For example, if the 10U-B division is in need of players to be able to form an even-number of teams, then some of the older 8U-B players may be identified as candidates to play up if it does not affect the formation of the 8U-B teams.
  • Parent coach - a child may be allowed to play up if a parent is willing to coach or assistant coach the team. The primary consideration will be the need for coaches. If coaches are needed at the given level, then the Board will also consider other factors. These include the parent's coaching credentials and the player's skill and maturity.
Each exception will be considered case by case, and year by year. Playing up one year does not mean playing up every year. The parents of players being given the opportunity to play up will be consulted. The parents must agree and the player must also want to play up. Players are never forced to play up.

Parents wanting their child to play up need to contact the Board in writing (either email or written letter) during open registration. After registration and teams are formed, it is much more difficult to accommodate such requests.

Some other things to consider:
  • Playing up is not automatic
  • The National AYSO guidelines do not normally allow for players to play up beyond one year(*)
  • It is to everyone's benefit if requests are made at registration, and well before the start of the season. Once players are placed and teams are formed the chance of playing up being allowed is significantly reduced
  • Players are not allowed to play up solely on the basis of skill
  • There is no "Two Year Rule." A player will not be automatically played up just because they've already played two years in a given division
  • Players transferring to our Region from another Region or soccer program are subject to the same rules as everyone else. Playing up in another Region or program does not automatically mean playing up at Manzanita will be allowed
  • The Manzanita AYSO Board has the final say in all requests
  • Written requests can be sent via email to: or a signed printed request can be handed to any Board member
* Players that are 10 years old or younger are not allowed to play in the 14U division - no exceptions. In the 14U division heading the ball is allowed. Per National AYSO and CDC guidelines, players that are 10 years old or younger are not allowed to intentionally head the ball.

Playing Down

Although it is rare, a parent may desire that their child play down in a lower division. We generally follow the AYSO National Guidelines. Most of the items covered above in the Some Other Things To Consider section also apply to playing down requests. Players are governed by the rules for the division they are playing down in. For example, heading is not allowed in the 12U division regardless of the age of the player. 

Special note for the 10U and above divisions: teams in these divisions have the possibility of participating in post-season rec team tournaments. Any player that is playing down is not eligible to participate in the post-season rec team tournaments. These tournaments include the Area 2J, Section 2, and Western States Championship tournaments.