New Rules Regarding Heading of the Ball

This just in - new language was added and approved by the AYSO National Board of Directors and appears in the AYSO National Rules and Regulations - I.I.1-3 paragraph as follows (edited for relevance to Area 1D's method of play).  This rule change becomes effective immediately (i.e. for the upcoming Spring 2016 season).

I.          HEADING THE BALL

1.         Consistent with the U.S. Soccer mandates on heading the ball, heading is banned for all division players U-12 and below in both practices and games.

Heading during practice for players in U-14 is limited to a maximum of thirty (30) minutes per week with no more than 15-20 headers, per player. There is no restriction on heading in matches.  There are no restrictions on heading in divisions older than U-14.

2.         An Indirect Free Kick (IFK) will be awarded to the opposing team if a player on a U-12 or younger team deliberately touches the ball with his/her head during a game.

a.   The Indirect Free Kick (IFK) is to be taken from the place where the player touched the ball with his/her head.  (This includes within the Penalty Area, but not within the Goal Area, which is described below.)

b.   An Indirect Free Kick (IFK) awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team’s Goal Area, must be taken on the Goal Area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the player touched the ball with his/her head.

3.         Neither Cautions nor Send-Offs shall be issued for persistent infringement or denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity related to the heading infraction.

It is important to note the operative word, "deliberately", as it applies to this new rule.  In much the same way a referee must determine deliberate use of the hands during play, this new rule also requires the referee to make a judgement regarding whether the use of the head was deliberate or accidental.