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. We do not normally deviate from these guidelines.

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:
  • 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
  • Too many players in an age division - if an age division has too many players and the next higher division has room, then some players may be given the opportunity to play up.
  • 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.
In the cases of either a division needing players or a division having too many players, the opportunity to play up will be awarded based on ability and age. Only players that would be moving to the older age division in the next Fall season AND that qualify based on skill level will be eligible. From this subset of players, each player will be asked in order of their birth date, with the older players being asked first. The order IS NOT based on skill level.

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, as will coaches. 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 by email or written letter - you can find the contact information hereduring open registration. Simply texting or verbally stating the desire to have a child play up is not sufficient. 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 in Region 256 will be allowed
  • The AYSO Region 256 Board has the final say on all requests. No player may play up without the authorization from the Board. No individual coach or Board member can grant permission for a player to play up - it is a Board decision
  • Written requests can be sent via email to: 256ayso@gmail.com or a signed printed request can be handed to any Board member. The request should include the parent's full name and contact information, as well as the player's full name that they are registered under
  • A decision might not be rendered immediately. The aspects spelled out above must all be considered and it can be several weeks before all of the information is available (such as how many players are in the divisions affected)
* 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. 


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