How We Form Teams and Manage Requests
Our policy on team formation and requests was adopted in its current form in 1997. It has been re-affirmed annually by every Regional Commissioner and Regional Board of Directors since then. The policy has been slightly modified over time, the most recent being in 2012.
From the Commissioner:
We would like to remind everyone our policies on requests for players to be placed on the same team and, more generally, on how teams are formed. Some of what we do is mandated by the national rules of AYSO; a lot is just plain common sense.
Before giving you our rules and policies, please remember that AYSO's National Mission Statement is founded on six principles: Balanced Teams, Fair Play, Good Sportsmanship, Positive Coaching, Player Development, and Everyone Plays. Region 76 is a part of AYSO and we stand for these above everything else and our policies on requests and team selection reflect these principles.
In addition, the process of making up teams is very time consuming work and once the teams have been made up every player move involves more than just that player. It also involves finding a replacement of comparable skill levels (to maintain team balance). Parents frequently see this from their perspective and don't take into consideration that granting a seemingly simple request can have a wave of repercussions and stretch our volunteer resources beyond breaking.
PART I - FORMING TEAMS
1. In Divisions U14, U12 and U10, we do team formation with random coach assignments. The formation meetings take place in August. Our guidelines for U14 and U12 are as follows.
a. The coaches meet to form teams collectively.
b. The coaches will then be charged with making up the most even teams they can, because they don't know which team they will get. When the teams have been made, they are labeled and each coaches picks a team label out of a hat.
c. Each coach who did not pick the team with his or her child will then trade for the child using a player at the same rating level.
This method solves the assistant coach problem and makes everyone honest. It also eliminates the problems (associated with standard player "drafts") of more knowledgeable or experienced coaches drafting more wisely, the coach who picks his or her kids' friends rather than the best available players and consigns the team to a season of blowout losses and the cheat (yes, I'm afraid we've had some of those) who deliberately underrated a player the previous year to be able to get that player "cheap" the following year. It is similar to the riddle of how two people can get an equal share of the cake - one cuts the cake, the other picks the slice!
Once teams have been formed, we generally do not add players for at least a couple of weeks, so that we can allocate from a pool of players rather than simply adding the first player who comes along to the first team who needs an additional player.
2. In U12, we form teams by balancing the "older" and "younger" players separately, to ensure that each team has a proportionately similar number of older and younger players. (We understand the need to be sensible; sometimes a younger player is so talented that he or she should be assigned as an older one.) This avoids the mistake sometimes made by coaches of overrating a player in, for example, Division U12 who was an older player in U10 the preceding year, as compared to a player who was a younger player in U12 the preceding year and will now be in their second year in the same division.
3. In the U10 Divisions, the coaches apply to coach to the Division Director. Sometimes, we allow coaches to pair up, but only if their children will not affect team balance by placing two strong players on the same team, and we have sufficient coaches who have volunteered to coach the teams. At or near the time the coach pairings are taking place, the Division Director will send an e-mail to all of the coaches and asst. coaches with the entire list of the players and their ratings from the prior season. The players will be rated from the strongest older player on down. Once the older players on the list have been exhausted, the list will continue with the strongest younger player in the Division on down. The coaches will be asked to maintain the strictest confidence regarding the list to avoid any hurt feelings that might arise. The coaches will then evaluate the list and will be permitted to provide input to the Division Director to modify the rating of any player on the list. This is our attempt to revisit the ratings from the last year and correct any errors. Once the players have been properly rated, they will be placed on the teams using what we call the “snake system”. The players on the modified list are in the order in which they will be placed on teams, i.e., the first player on the list will be the first player placed on a team etc…. Once the older players have all been placed, then the last team to select their first older player will get the first younger player selected and the snake will continue in the opposite direction. Once all of the players are placed on teams, the Division Director will arbitrarily select the coaches for each team, and switch the player presently on the team that is most closely rated by age and rating with the coach’s child. The same will be done for the asst. coach’s child. Additional changes to the roster will be made based upon the “opt out” day selected by each family, and then the teams will be complete. The Division Director will pass out the completed rosters to the coaches at the initial coaches’ meeting.
Even though we make every effort to have balanced teams, there will always be some stronger and some weaker teams. To make sure that all teams have a balanced year, winning and losing some games, we “schedule balance” the teams after the third week of the season. The teams will be grouped in 3 brackets based upon the strength of the team as determined by the Division Director. For the remainder of the season, until the playoffs, teams will only play against other teams in their own bracket. Although this does create some scheduling challenges, we believe that by grouping the teams in this manner we will be doing our best to make sure the kids and their families get a balanced experience from our program.
4. In Divisions U8 and below, teams are not balanced based on player ratings. In those divisions we form teams based on requests, school, and other miscellaneous factors. In addition, Girls U8 teams are formed taking into consideration the allocation of 6 and 7 year old girls proportionately to each team. Boys U8 is so large that it is divided into two subdivisions with older and younger teams.
5. Late sign-ups, including by players returning from club soccer, and late drops are often a source of problems. Here is how we approach the placing of late sign-ups:
- First, once teams have been formed, we will delay assigning players if team balance considerations require it. Usually, we don't place players for a couple of weeks until we have a pool of players that is as large as possible. The primary criterion for placing players at this point remains team balance.
- Second, assuming team balance considerations have been satisfied, we allocate players mostly on the basis of first come first served. We may give preference to a player where we are short of head coaches or, in very exceptional cases, assistant coaches and a qualified parent is willing to head coach the team.
We will not allow late sign-ups to be used to manipulate the system. In particular, very talented players signed up after teams have been assigned can expect to be placed only after a delay of several weeks or not at all.
6. Under the supervision of the Regional Commissioner, the division director always retains the right to make adjustments. Sometimes, even the best laid plans go astray. The division director and the Regional Commissioner have unlimited authority to make changes and adjust the implementation of our policy in the best interests of the program and in particular to take steps to prevent and counteract any manipulation of the system.
7. Unless there's no alternative (and we are sometimes short of volunteer coaches), the division director generally will not be a coach in the division nor (for any division which has playoffs) will the division director be the parent of a player in that division (does not apply to Divisions U19 and U16 so long as there are no more than three teams in the division).
There will always be the inevitable sad band of conspiracy theorists who believe we do it differently. We do not. We will not under our watch.
You should be hearing from your team's coach towards the end of August. We may also email you with your team assignment. If you do not hear by August 31, please contact your Division Director. Division assignments are a function of age of the player on July 31 and you can get information on which Division a player is assigned to, division directors' names and e-mail links on this website.
PART II - REQUESTS
1. AYSO's national rules and policies forbid player retention or building teams by strategic placing of assistant coaches. While we sometimes place parent coaches together, we try to avoid this unless it's absolutely necessary. The bar for what constitutes necessity has been raised because, sadly, it has been abused over the years.
2. In Divisions U8B and A (6 and 7-year olds) and U6 (4 1/2 and 5-year olds), we nevertheless entertain requests. We do this because the way we organize the teams and play short-sided games with squads that change every week, team balance is not very important and the social aspects of the game are far more important than competition. Because our policy has become known, we have received many more requests than we used to. We therefore do not guarantee that requests will be granted. In particular, we will not allow teams almost entirely made up of requests or of players from the same school. We do our best to accommodate you but once we have made up the teams, it is very unlikely that we will make a change. We are therefore very unlikely to grant requests made after July 31.
3. However, parents need to understand that as accommodating as we try to be with requests at that level, once your child gets to Division U9 and U10 (meaning players 8 and 9 years old) and beyond, team balancing takes priority and no requests will be accepted or even considered. The only exception is for brothers and sisters and for children living in the same household where age and gender would place them in the same division. We will accept requests in these situations for the children to be placed (a) on the same team or (b) on different teams.
4. What if your team has a practice day that conflicts with religious school or some other commitment that you cannot rearrange? What if you need help with car pooling? We will try to help - but we ask that you first try to help yourself. Please be flexible and try to work something out. Almost always you will get to know someone on the team with whom you can share carpooling and other responsibilities. And don't worry about your children not knowing anyone on the team. One of the joys of AYSO is the opportunity for children and their parents to make new friends and it is done so easily in the context of participation on a sports team. Take advantage
5. Note regarding practice days. Beginning in 2010, we allow parents to specify one weekday a week when their child cannot practice and we will honor this by not placing a child on a team that practices on that day or by moving the child to a different team if for some reason we have to select the team players before we can assign a practice day. Please be patient while we work out the inevitable issues that arise. And please understand that you can specify one day, not multiple days. Anything more would make our team selection process unmanageable.