Grading and Team Selection

Team Selection Process

At Avalon Soccer Club we firmly believe that the grading of players is an important step to enhance all of our player’s enjoyment and skill development. Research has found that children enjoy sport much more and develop skills quicker when they play and train with players of their own ability. Player grading is also a requirement stipulated by the MWFA for the U10 and older age groups.

The Grading Process

We have worked very hard in developing a grading process that is not only a good test of key football skills but is also fair. We have spent a lot time researching and fine tuning player grading methods and now believe that we have one of the best player grading processes of all the grassroots football clubs in our area. Each year we get lots of very positive feedback on our grading process, which we are very proud of. However, we listen carefully to any constructive criticism we receive and if appropriate make adjustments.
All of our graders are carefully selected for their football knowledge and are ether experienced coaches or players or both. To avoid any possible conflict of interest, all graders assessing players up to U15s have no involvement in the age group being assessed (no parents, siblings, coaches, managers).
At the end of each season, we ask all of our coaches (U8 and up) to complete a player summary. This confidential assessment evaluates the individual skills and attitude of all players. This record is used to supplement the following seasons grading process. However, we recognise that individuals continue to improve/mature during the off season particularly in the younger age groups.
The Avalon Grading Process varies slightly between age groups but in general it follows the following structure:
  1. Players attend one or two (depending on their age) grading sessions where they are assessed on certain criteria as compared with their peers by our experienced and impartial graders.
  2. Each player’s grading score is recorded and the players are ranked within their age group.
  3. The grading committee assess the rankings for each player and divide the players into teams. It is important to note; that players grading results are often very close around the cut off mark between each team. The grading committee examine the results of players either side of this mark very carefully. It is at this point that they will refer to the coaches’ report from the previous season.

If required some age groups may be called back for another grading session or certain players may be assessed at team training sessions.

In most age groups we hold two grading sessions. The reason for this is two fold:
  • To get a better idea of the player’s ability. Obviously the more we get to see them, the better we can judge their ability.
  • For those that have a genuine reason that they can’t make one of the days we at least get to see them once.

Please attend both sessions if you can.

Grading process by age group in more detail

U6, U7,U8 & U9
Parents form their own teams with the assistance of the age co-ordinator. The club will decide on the number of players per team depending on the number of players registered.
 Please note: at U10s we are required to place players into teams primarily according to their grading result (see below).
From U10 and up, we are required by the MWFA to grade all players into teams of equal ability. In U10 and U11 age groups we are just starting to build our knowledge of our player’s ability. Therefore, these players are put though our full grading process.
At this age the players are graded solely on the four core skills of football; Striking the ball (passing), First Touch (receiving), 1v1 and running with the ball.
Grading activities:
  • 1 v 1
  • Conditioned Small Sided Games (4v4)
  • Larger game (8v8)
It is very important that the players in this age group attend at least one of their grading sessions.
By the time players reach the U12s we are more aware of our player’s ability. We also start to give greater weight to their coaching report. However, player’s skills are still developing very quickly and their ranking against their peers are constantly changing so we still need to be vigilant about giving all of our players the opportunity to prove themselves. So it is still important that players make every effort to attend at least one grading session.
As well as the 4 core skills of the game; striking the ball (passing), first touch (receiving), 1v1 and running with the ball, the players are also graded on positioning & communication.
Grading Activities:
  • 1 v 1
  • Conditioned Small Sided Games (4v4)
  • Larger game (8v8)
When the players reach this stage of their playing career we have a fair idea of our player’s ability and their ranking vs their peers remains relatively constant. However, we do have new players coming to the club and sometimes have to combine age groups (there is no U17s). Therefore we still require a look at these players. However, the form of the grading process will be tailored to meet the circumstances of each age group, each season.

Playing up an age group

A small number of players may want to be considered for a team in a higher age group. The club recognises that this may be the case for a number of reasons and ask that players wishing to play up, advise the club when they register. Players may be asked to attend grading for their actual age group and their requested age group. The request to play up an age group will only be granted if the number of registered players in both the actual and requested age group allow.

Playing with friends

If a player wants to play in the same team as a friend you should let the Club know when you register and tell the age co-ordinator (preferably in writing). The Grading Committee will assess both players individually and place them in a team based on the lowest grading. For example, if one (1) player is graded in division 3 and the other in division 4 and they want to play together, they will both be placed in division 4. Once teams have been announced such changes are not likely.

Two teams in one division

If there is a need to enter two teams in the same division the following could occur:
If the teams are to play in division 1, for U12s and older, MWFA rules stipulate that we must grade the teams as normal. For example; players ranked 1-14 will be in the ‘A’ Team and 15-28 in the ‘B’ Team.
In lower divisions every attempt is made to grade the two teams equally. This is to avert the problem where one team does very poorly and the other very well. Our aim is for players to enjoy their football and want to play again next season.
Please note: Sometimes we grade teams to go into different divisions but the MWFA will put them in the same division. If this happens it is usually too late to change the teams.

Players not able to attend Grading days

Where a player is unable to attend the grading days, the Grading Committee will consider the team/division they played in last season and the confidential assessment made by that players coach in the previous season. If that is not available the player will be most likely placed in the team in the lowest division and progression to a higher grade will be by recommendation from the relevant coach. It is easier for a player to move up divisions after the season starts than down. Please note that this will only occur if player numbers in the team permits.

Team notification

Once the teams have been decided by the Grading Committee, emails will be sent out by the relevant age Co-ordinators.
Whilst the teams picked will have been picked for a division relevant to their skill, the MWFA may subsequently change the division the team will play in having regard to the registrations from other Clubs.


Whilst no grading process is perfect, and by its nature is subjective, the grading process aims to minimise players being graded incorrectly by having a minimum of 8 impartial graders individually assess each player. The Grading Committee then meet shortly afterwards to agree on players grading. Should a parent be dissatisfied with the grading of their child, and wish to appeal, they should email the Grading Committee ( who will meet to review the grading of the player. A reply will come from the Grading Committee. Only appeals in writing to the Grading Committee will be looked at.