Frequently Asked Questions
Playing out of age group
Q. My child has a July birthday and just missed the September 1st cutoff date - can he/she play with his/her classmates?
A. Due to recent changes to age groups, your child may still be able to play with his/her classmates. Check the information in the "Divisions" section to see which group your child belongs in. There may be limitations during the registration process that force your child to "register up", so please contact us if you believe any adjustments are needed.
Q. My child isn't a very strong player - can he/she "play down" an age group?
A. For in-town leagues (U6 and U8), we may be able to make an exceptions. For travel teams (U10+) playing down is not allowed by the MAYS league. If you feel a waiver is warranted in your situation, please use the "Contact Us" tab.
Q. I registered before the deadline so my child is guaranteed a spot on a team, right?
A. Unfortunately, no. SYSA makes every effort get all registered players onto teams however, final team submission dates and maximum roster sizes are dictated by the league. If we have too few players to field a team at a particular age level or if we have more players registered than we can roster per league rules we cannot guarantee placement. In those cases our only option may be to combine with other non-Sterling teams. In that case we use the registration dates to determine which players get spots on Sterling teams and which players may be asked to play on out-of-town teams. So registering early gives your child the best chance for a spot on a Sterling team!
Q. If my child doesn't get a spot on a Sterling team will I get a refund?
A. Yes. If SYSA is unable to place your child on a Sterling team we will try to find a spot on a team in a town nearby. If you choose not to play on an out-of-town team you will receive a full refund of your registration fee.
Q. My child would like to play with his/her best friend. Can you make sure they are on the same team?
A. Travel team placement requests are only honored in the case of siblings or coaches' children. Playing with friends, car pooling, or other convenience-based requests will not be considered.
Playing on an out-of-town team
Q. My child goes to school in another town - can he/she play soccer there?
A. In most cases, yes. Please use the "Contact Us" tab to initiate the waiver process.
Q. We live in another town but my child goes to school in Sterling - can he/she play soccer there?
A. In most cases, yes. Please use the "Contact Us" tab to initiate the waiver process.
Q. What if my child has other activities and won't be able to make it to all the practices?
A. SYSA believes that attendance at practice is a vital part of player development. SYSA also recognizes that its players appropriately play other sports and enjoy other activities beyond soccer. Conflicts with soccer practice may arise, and SYSA is committed to working with players to enable them to enjoy multiple sports/activities. We do however expect players to try to attend as many practices as possible if they wish to play for a Sterling Youth Soccer team. Without this commitment, players miss an integral part of the Soccer development experience. They also make it more difficult for their coach to plan practice drills and for their teammates to enjoy productive practices. We ask that you keep an open line of communication with your child's coach so that he/she knows when your child will not be able to attend practice so that he/she can plan accordingly.
Club Soccer Conflicts
Q. What if my child also plays on a Club Soccer team and will miss practices or games?
A. SYSA recognizes that some of its players also play club soccer, and that there may be instances in which club and SYSA games or practices conflict. SYSA acknowledges the development opportunities that club soccer provides, and accepts that in certain cases where practice or games conflicts exist, a player and his/her family may feel that the player’s development is better served by choosing club practices over SYSA practices. We would ask that you keep your child's coach informed of any conflicts so that he can plan his practices and/or games accordingly.
Injury during game
Q. What should I do if my child is injured in play?
A. Coaches are responsible for the players on the field. It is their duty to assess the situation of an injured player, and determine if the player should be moved to the player side of the field. [For serious injuries, the player should remain in place and 911 called.] Referees are responsible to stop the game when an injury has occurred. As a parent, you should remain on the sideline. When your player is moved to the player sideline, you should walk around the field, not across the field, to assess the injury and comfort the player.
Q. Where can I find information about concussions in youth sports?
A. Check the CDC's Heads Up Concussions in Youth Sports Training here:
Player Equipment - Uniforms, Footwear, Jewelry, Eye Glasses, Mouthguards, etc.
Q. What equipment do I need for my child?
A. Shin guards are mandatory and cleats are optional...if you buy cleats, make sure they are soccer cleats (not baseball/softball). Soccer socks (worn over the shin guards) and a t-shirt will be provided by SYSA for U6/U8 players. Travel team jerseys and socks are purchased at registration for U10+. A soccer ball is required for practices. We provide a Size 3 ball to all U6 players. Ball sizes are: Size 3 for U6-U8, Size 4 for U10-U12 and Size 5 for U14+. The coach will also have access to soccer balls and training equipment.
Q. On game day, can my child play out of uniform?
A. A player can not play without shin pads. All players, except goalies, need to be in team colors, with a numbered shirt.
Q. What is the Policy on types of footwear for players?
A. The only permitted types of footwear are soccer cleats, running shoes, or sneakers. Cleats from other sports are NOT permitted -- most importantly baseball cleats which tend to have a toe cleat of metal or other material that can cause serious injury to other players. This applies to both practice sessions and game day. Referees on game day will inspect every player for proper uniform, proper footwear, proper shin pads, and removal of all jewelry and metal hair accessories.
Q. What is the policy on jewelry?, mouthguards?, eyeglasses?, hair accessories?
A. No jewelry - period! No watches, rings, necklaces, earings, body piercings. Make the situation problem free for the coach and referee - collect the jewelry from your player before a game. Necklaces tucked under the shirt will be removed. Ears being taped over new piercings are not permitted and players will not be allow to play with them. Mouthguards are not required, even if the player has braces, but are strongly recommended. Eyeglasses are permitted: with any type of frame - plastic, metal, composite. Give consideration to soft contact lenses (1 day disposables), special prescription goggles, or goggles that go over regular eyeglasses. Only soft hair accessories are permitted - elastics, cloth, and plastic are permitted. No metal, no hair pins, no large plastic hair clips. All of these recommendations are for your players safety and the safety of the other players.
Q. What size soccer ball is right for my child?
A. Size 3 for U6-U8, Size 4 for U10-U12, Size 5 for U14+
Casts or Splints
Q. My child is in a cast or splint - can he/she still play if I wrap it in bubblewrap?
A. Hard casts or splints are not permitted, even if wrapped in a towel or an ace bandage. The following items are permitted: knee braces, finger splints, leather wrist/ankle supports.
On the Field of Play (Handballs and Offsides)
Q. The ball just hit that kid on the arm. Why didn't the referee call a hand-ball?
A. Strangely, the term "hand-ball" is commonly used, but is not defined in the official FIFA rules. It is a "direct kick foul" if a player (other than the goalkeeper inside his own penalty area) deliberately handles the ball (meaning to deliberately touch the ball with any part of the arm from the finger tips to the top of the shoulder). If the player handles it for the purpose of preventing an opponent from gaining possession, it is a "cautionable offense" and a yellow card should be given. If a player deliberately handles the ball to deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity (e.g., to prevent a breakaway or to deliberately stop a shot), a red card should be given and the player "sent off". However, a hand ball foul should not be called if: (1) a player is instinctively trying to protect himself from injury or (2) the player did not deliberately touch the ball but the ball hit his arm & he did not move the arm toward the ball (however, if the player's arms were in an unnatural position such as above his shoulders or sticking out to the sides, then he should be called for a handball)
Q. That kid is way behind our last defender. Why isn't the referee calling offsides?
A. When judgment of offside position is necessary, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his OWN team ask these questions:
1. Is the player in the attacking half of the field?
2. Is the player nearer the goal line than the ball?
3. Is the player nearer the goal line than the next to last defender? Note - the last defender may or may not be the goalkeeper.
If any question is answered no, the player is not in an offside position and can participate in play until the next touch by a member of his team. At that point go back to question 1.
If the answers to all the above questions are yes, then the player is in an offside position - but he still may not be called for offsides unless the referee judges that he is actively involved in the play. To determine if he's actively involved in the play, ask two more questions:
a. Is the player interfering with play or an opponent?
b. Is the player gaining an advantage by being in an offside position?
If either of these is true or becomes true before the next touch by one of his OWN side then the assistant flags for offside and the referee blows for the infraction and awards an indirect free kick, to be taken from where the attacker was at the moment the ball was touched or played by a member of his own team.
Remember that it is not contrary to the Law to be in an offside position if the player is not actively involved in the play.
After the ball is played a player may run into an offside position and play it without penalty. When a player is in an offside position and the ball is touched or played by a colleague that player may not get involved, without penalty, even if the ball bounces off an opponent or an opponent misplays it.