We all want the same thing when our players are on the field – a safe playing experience and a fun and sportsmanlike environment.
Grouping players of similar age helps to create a “level playing field” and goes a long way to accomplishing our goals. An athlete's physical and cognitive maturity and development has a significant impact on overall player safety. When players are grouped on teams without consideration of the significant differences in the physical and emotional maturity of players competing with and against each other, safety and quality of play may be jeopardized. USA Lacrosse’s recommended segmentation policy was developed based on significant scientific study and consideration.
In a related effort, USA Lacrosse and the National Lacrosse Federation (NLF) entered into a partnership in 2023 that will bring age verification to boys' club lacrosse. (Note that the NLF policy uses a 15-month span). Read more about that partnership here.
Notable Items in USA Lacrosse's Player Segmentation policy:
- An emphasis on grouping players by single-age years (12-month span), with exceptions of up to 24 months for age groupings as needed. (Note: NLF has chosen to use 15-month age groupings for its clubs and events.)
- A September 1 birthdate is the start of new age groupings in an attempt to align with the majority of school systems nationwide to allow players to play with people in their own grade level when possible.
- Firmly defined playing season that begins its 12-month cycle on September 1.
- Standardized nomenclature that lists maximum age first (i.e., 12U, not U12).
Age grouping reference table
This chart is recommended for play occurring between Sept 1, 2023 - August 31, 2024
Five Easy Steps to Verify the Age of Your Child
The USA Lacrosse age verification system is secure and easy to use. Age verification uses SSL technology, the standard for transmitting sensitive information online.
- Scan or take a photo of your son or daughter's birth certificate or state-issued ID.
- Log into your USALacrosse.com account, not your child's.
- Upload your scan or photo to our online system.
- We'll review your documentation, record the birthdate in our system, and then permanently delete your uploaded document.
- You'll receive a confirmation email, and you’re done. This is a one-time process that is good for the lifetime of your child’s membership.
FAQs on USA Lacrosse's Player Segmentation Policy
Why does USA Lacrosse choose age to segment players?
Age is the best indicator for determining how to group children due to physical and cognitive development. It is also the most easily verified method to segment players. The USA Lacrosse age verification system assists leagues and event operators in ensuring that players are segmented properly. The age groupings were designed to align as closely as possible with students’ grade level in school so that they can participate with their classmates.
What happens if there are not enough players to field a team using the recommended segmentation?
USA Lacrosse recognizes that some programs will not have enough players to segment by single-aged years. Provisions are included to allow 24-month age segmentations for local league and community-based play, if necessary, to ensure participation. The aim of the policy is to improve the experience for everyone in order increase participation, not discourage it.
Why was September 1 chosen as the start date of the season?
The playing season was firmly defined as September 1 through August 31 of each year to help ensure consistency. The fall date was chosen as the start date for the new season, as the majority of teams use the fall to begin their preparation for the upcoming spring and summer seasons.
Why is the age listed first on the groupings?
The nomenclature for age groupings was changed to have the age listed first for clarity and to allow for a clear break between youth (14U and younger) and scholastic (15U to 18U) lacrosse. Previously, the U15 level was considered youth, but often included age-eligible high school players.