FAQ about U7 Division

Santa Monica AYSO’s U7 division

Santa Monica AYSO is excited announce that as of Fall 2011, we will have a U7 division.  This means that instead of combining 6- and 7-year-old players into one U8 division, we are now making it possible for them to play with children closer to their own age.

 Who will be u7?

  • U7 is intended for 6 year old players with birth dates between August 1 and July 31.
  • Most U7 players will be in 1st grade; some will be in 2nd grade.

How does u7 compare to u8?

  • U7 will have a weekday practice (just like u8).  
  • U7 will play on a field that is either identical (or near identical) to u8.  
  • U7 will use goals the height of u8, but reduced in width.
  • U7 will play 5v5, whereas u8 plays 7v7 (which equates to more time with the ball).  
  • U7 will have no goalkeepers; whereas u8 plays with goalkeepers for the time being.  
  • U7 play will be "open substitution" (so that our 6-year-olds are not required to sit out an entire quarter at a time); whereas u8 plays with substitutions at “quarter breaks”.
  • Division guidelines can be read here.

Why the change?

AYSO National Guidelines for u8 (which includes our u7) specify that play should be 5v5 with no goalkeepers.  These guidelines are based on what is best and most appropriate (socially, emotionally, and developmentally) for the vast majority of our players.  We have not been adhering to the guidelines in the past due to field constraints and lack of coaches (as 5v5 play requires more of both).  The change to our new u7 division is one step toward bringing half of our u8 program in line with National guidelines.

Why no goalkeepers in u7?

We encourage parents to review the rationale for not using goalkeepers in our u7.  Please see the March 1, 2011 issue of "Ask the Coach" (from AYSO National):

Have changes occurred in other divisions?

  • Several years ago we changed our u10 to play 7v7 (instead of 11v11).
  • In Fall 2008 we changed our u12 to play 9v9 (instead of 11v11).  
  • In Fall 2010 we changed our u6 to play 3v3 or 4v4 (instead of 5v5).  

These changes were made because the single most valuable element for the development of young players is touches on the ball.  And with less players on a team and teammates of the same age, u7 players will get more time and touches than they have in the past. That is why AYSO recommends these reduced team sizes and why these smaller teams have become standard in regions all over the country (and world).

Despite some early misgivings among parents used to the old formats, the changes made in the U6, U10, and U12 divisions have been a great success, and we are confident that our shift to a u7 division will also be a positive change and we appreciate your support as we transition.

Is there information on the benefit of “short sided games” (less than 11v11)?

We encourage parents to review the rationale for short-sided games at the following links:  

 Thanks for being a part of Santa Monica AYSO.  
We look forward to seeing you and your child on the fields in the fall!