My Youth Soccer Guide

American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO)
Structure, Philosophy and Programs

Official site of the American Youth Soccer Organization Like the US Youth Soccer (USYS), the American Youth Soccer Organization is a nationwide non-profit organization affiliated with the U.S. Soccer Federation. Unlike USYS, however, its policies are centrally administered from its headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
American Youth Soccer Organization

Organizational Structure

AYSO relies on volunteers at the community level to maintain the programs.

The basic community program is called a Region.

  • A region may have as few as 150 players or as many as 6000, grouped into girls' and boys' divisions based on age.

    Several bordering regions make up an Area.

    Several bordering areas make up a Section.

  • A section may cover several states, an entire state or a portion of a state.

    There are no such things as "state association" in AYSO.

    To find a region in your area, click on the AYSO Web site link (above), go to "Structure", click on "Local AYSO Region Web sites" and type your zip code in a search box.


    The American Soccer Youth Organization is best known for its "everyone plays" philosophy and guarantees that each child will play at least half of every game. In its mission statement AYSO lists five principles:
    1. Everyone Plays
      Every player must play at least half of every game.
    2. Balanced Teams
      At the start of each game, teams are set up as evenly as possible.
    3. Open Registration
      There are no tryouts. Interest and enthusiasm are the only requirements for playing.
    4. Positive Coaching
      Coaches are trained and encouraged to make the extra effort to understand and offer positive help to the players, rather than use negative criticism.
    5. Good Sportsmanship
      AYSO aims to create good sportsmanship on and off the field and to avoid a win-at-all-costs attitude. All of its programs are designed to instill good sportsmanship in the kids.


    The American Youth Soccer Organization offers programs to benefit all children four and half to eighteen years of age,
    including but not limited to those with disabilities, children in economically disadvantaged communities and those wishing to play college soccer.

    Very Important Players (VIP) Program
    Program for children with physical or mental disabilities highlights AYSO's "open registration" principle. It allows children with Down's syndrome, impaired sight or hearing, autism, cerebral palsy, conditions that impair mobility and similar problems to play.

    The VIP Program integrates its "Very Important Players" into the rest of American Youth Soccer Organization by using adult volunteers and player volunteers to help VIP Players both on and off the field. Players in the VIP Program have a "buddy" - a parent, sibling or friend - who keeps them oriented.

    The goals of the VIP Program are for players to:

    • have fun
    • understand the fundamentals of the game
    • learn teamwork and fair play
    • increase self-esteem
    • become more physically fit
    • meet new people.
    VIP teams can have as few as five players and may be coed.

    College Athlete Program (CAP)
    Players with a high skill level may be able to participate in CAP, which aims to make playing soccer in college a reality for the student-athlete.

    CAP offers several benefits to high school aged players:

    • recognizes and promotes player's academic performance
    • enhances player's concepts of sport and sporting behavior
    • provides training from top level soccer experts
    • offers workshops on college entrance requirements and procedures
    • provides exposure to college coaches
    • assists in the creation of student-athlete portfolios
    • offers the chance for national level competition

    As is the case with the US Youth Soccer Association, you can probably find an AYSO team that meets the particular needs of your child.

    You can also get actively involved by volunteering as a coach, referee or administrator. Even if you have no experience at all, the American Youth Soccer Organization provides the volunteers with Coaching, Officiating and Administrative programs with complete training right from the beginning.

    Related Articles

    Youth Soccer in America - Organizational Structure
    Discover how youth soccer is organized. A terrific source for youth soccer players, parents and…novice coaches.

    USYS - The largest youth soccer organization in the U.S.
    Is US Youth Soccer really for all the kids? See for yourself. Learn about all the programs and organizational structure of the US Youth Soccer. Links to all regional and state associations.

    SAY - Recreational Soccer
    Recreational soccer association for kids ages four through eighteen. Discover benefits of Soccer Association for Youth membership by learning more of its programs, structure and philosophy.

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