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Playing Up Policy

Players may “play up” (i.e., play for a team in an age group that is older than the player’s designated age group) only with the prior approval of the Club’s Advisory Board.
Coaches may not permit under-age players to register or play with their team without ensuring that the player has followed the procedures set forth herein. Conversely, coaches should bring to the attention of the Advisory Board any player on their team that they feel would be better served by playing at an older age-group.
In all cases, the desire to play up should be driven by the player first and the player’s parents second, not by the coach of the team at the higher age group. The decision should be based upon what is in the best interests of the player and the Club. It should not be based upon ego, prestige or the particular best interests of any one team. When faced with making the decision whether the player ought to play up, the Advisory Board must be prepared with sound rationale to support their decision. Under no circumstance should coaches exploit the situation by holding players back in their quest for winning team tournaments, nor should parents push their child in an attempt to accelerate their ascension to higher levels of basketball.
Responsibilities of Players Desiring to Play Up
Each year, players desiring to "play-up" shall submit a written request to the Advisory Board prior to Tryouts, even if the player “played-up” in the previous year. Decisions will be made from year to year; no player will be automatically "grandfathered."
The request should include all relevant factors that the player would like considered.
If a player who has submitted a request to play-up is willing to consider a roster spot only in the higher age group, the player should attend the tryout session(s) for that age group and need not attend the tryout session(s) for the player’s proper age group. Otherwise, the player should attend the tryout sessions for both age groups (i.e., the player’s proper age group as well as the higher age group).
Playing Up Committee
After consultation with the coach(es) from each age group involved, the Advisory Board will make determinations regarding all playing-up requests based upon all relevant factors. If any committee member believes that he or she should not participate in any particular playing-up request because of a personal interest in the outcome of any playing-up request, he or she may recuse himself or herself from participating in that particular decision. Additionally, the Advisory Board may alter or add to its composition on a permanent or case-by-case basis for any reason.
In making decisions regarding each playing-up request, the Advisory Board shall take into consideration the following guidelines.
  1. Team Need - The Advisory Board may from time to time deem it necessary or appropriate to place player(s) in a higher age group in the best interest of the Club (for example, if the ability to form a team depends on relocating some players from one age group to another). Ordinarily, however, no player will be required by the Club to play at a higher age group. In such cases, the decision will be reviewed from year to year with no presumption that the player is "grandfathered." 
  2. Physical Capability – Does the player’s physical maturity (height, strength, etc…) provide for he/she to safely compete while playing-up? In addition, if a player’s correct age group is unable to provide the player with the training, coaching and/or competition that he or she needs, strong consideration will be given to allowing the player to play at the next higher age group.
  3. Emotional Capability – Does the player possess the emotional/mental maturity to play with older players?  The Advisory Board must assess as best as possible whether the player is mentally ready for the challenges of playing against older competition (e.g. intimidation of playing against more skilled athletes, more intense training, increased pressure to win, etc.). If a player played-up last year, consideration will be given to allowing the player to continue to play with that same age group. However, this situation is just one aspect to consider, and shall not be the sole or primary reason in the Advisory Board’s decision.
As a general rule, Wildcats basketball players are expected to play at their "proper"‚Äč age group. It is the goal of Norcal Wildcats to field competitive teams at all age groups. It is ordinarily in the best interests of the club and the player (and all concerned) if players play at their proper age group. It is rare that a player’s growth will be hindered by playing at his/her proper age group--or significantly helped by playing-up. Conversely, allowing players to play-up dilutes the talent pool at each age group. While it may help a given team to bolster its roster with an under-age player, this is often at a cost. It also can be detrimental to the overall morale of the participants in the program when players play-up.