Everyone Plays

The “everyone plays” debate!

AYSO is a unique sports organization that mandates its participating regions to
play every single registered player at least 50% of each game. It is the single
philosophy that differentiates AYSO from competitive soccer leagues.  At
the time in 1964 when AYSO was founded, it was very revolutionary. If you signed
up to play AYSO soccer, you were going to play at least half of every game your
team played in. It has made AYSO unique as a soccer organization as it is a
sports organization.

In recent history, AYSO has elaborated the
“everyone plays” rule to push for even more playing time than 50%. It is now the
official policy that coaches and regions are “strongly encouraged” to play every
player 75% of every match. However, with some roster sizes of teams, it is
impossible to play every player 75% of each game…which is why AYSO has
stopped just short of requiring it.

Each season, a coach is faced with organizing their
lineup and balancing their player’s talents and abilities on the field.
Competitive AYSO coaches ignore the 75% recommendation and justify playing
players the required 50% AYSO rule. It is my personal belief that if this coach
had a choice, they would not play this player at all. Playing most of the team 4
quarters while several players only play 2 quarters only further puts their game
skills behind their teammates along with their confidence as a player and
individual.

To answer your specific question, I tell all of my
players at the beginning of every season at the first practice (and repeat it
many times so everyone hears it) that everyone will play at least 75% of every
game. I also educate them that soccer is a team sport. If a player does not show
up to practice either time during the week or hinders the team’s advancement
during the practices they do attend by goofing off and causing trouble, I tell
the players I reserve the right to limit their playing time to 50% of the game.

Being proactive with your intentions on how you
determine playing time (the value of team practices) adds worth to your team
training sessions.  If you *ever* have to use the 50% card, I find it is
better to offer a private warning to the player at the game you WOULD have
limited their playing time. Don’t worry, if this is a severe behavior case, you
are bound to catch them for next week’s game. If it has been flaunted and your
authority is in question, by all means, do not wait a week before you enforce
the 50% rule.

The National AYSO Director of Coaching agrees that
we are educating the players on the importance of a team sport. A player who
does not live up to the aspects of the team is hurting the team. As for the age
level that this “penalty” is appropriate…ANY AGE DIVISION! I would not limit
this consequence to just the older players. Most likely, this habit you are
dealing with the high school age player started *many* years before they got to
you!

Scott McGhee

former Region 45 Coach Administrator