Playing Up Policy

USA Hockey enforces strict guidelines around age classifications and, as an Affiliate, we adhere

to these standards. Though it would take a remarkable situation to allow for a player to

participate at a younger classification, it is left to member Organizations to make development

decisions around players who seek to participate at an older classification. We refer to

participating at an older age classification as “Playing Up”.


Success in hockey is as much about development of mental skill sets as it is physical ones. It is

the belief of our hockey leadership that when considering player classifications, all parties must

give due consideration to the significant social and emotional benefits of an individual player

having a leadership role as a top player in their group. In many cases, this outweighs the

physical benefits of being challenged by bigger and faster competition. To that end, BYH uses

the following protocol when exploring “Playing Up”:


  1. If a coach believes a player has the ability to play at the next level, then that coach will initiate the conversation with the Hockey Director at least 30 days prior to the start of the organizationally designated tryouts from which the coach will select players for the upcoming season. A group consisting of the Hockey Director and the coaches of potentially affected teams will then discuss and if warranted, allow the player an opportunity to demonstrate skills on the ice.
  2. If the coaches and Hockey Director feel that the player will be able to significantly and substantially contribute at the next desired age level and be among the team leaders for their respective position in game related ice time at that level, the hockey director will arrange a meeting with the family to discuss the player's future development.
  3. If it is determined that playing up is best for the player and that family, then the Hockey Director will contact coaches about the player.
  4. Players who register to try out for a team at an age classification above their natural birth year classifications without first undergoing this protocol will automatically be reregistered by the organization for tryouts at their natural birth year classification level. Players permitted to play up for the first time in a Spring season who wish to play up for the following Fall season, are required to undergo the evaluation protocol.

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