If your child is participating in youth sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, remember to take steps that can reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Based on the the latest evidence, these tips can help keep players, coaches and families safe:
Before the sports season starts
- Check to make sure sports and recreation activities are approved by your local and state government.
- Understand the new safety rules and expectations for participation during COVID-19 and talk about them with your child.
- Each child should have their own face mask, hand sanitizer, towel, water bottle, and tissues labeled with their names.
- All youth athletes should have an up-to-date sports physical before participating.
Prior to practice or games
- Athletes should stay home from practice or game if they're feeling sick or have any symptoms of COVID-19, and get a test if the doctor recommends.
- Wash hands before arriving, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water aren't available.
- Bring labeled (with name) personal sports equipment, water bottle, towel, tissues, hand sanitizer, and face mask.
- Stay in the car or assigned school location until the coach is ready to start practice.
- Avoid gathering in groups before practice, maintain physical distance and wear a face mask.
If an athlete has COVID-19
Anyone who had a positive COVID-19 test should get their doctor’s approval before returning to exercise or sports. They need a minimum 10-day period to rest, without exercise or competition.
Before returning to physical activity, children should be screened for heart symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, fatigue, xirregular heartbeat, or fainting. A child with a positive heart screening will need an EKG and referral to a pediatric cardiologist for possible additional cardiac tests.
Once cleared, the child can start a gradual return to physical activity. The doctor will recommend a schedule based on the child's age and how severe their COVID-19 symptoms were.
Children who were very sick from COVID-19 or diagnosed with MIS-C must be treated as though they have an inflamed heart muscle (myocarditis). They should not exercise or compete for 3 to 6 months. A pediatric cardiologist should examine these children before they are allowed to return to exercise or competition.
During sports practice or games
- Athletes should maintain physical distance as much as possible.
- Wear cloth face coverings at all times during group training and competition especially on the sideline, in dugouts, and during team chats. Masks can be removed for some sports, including:
- Water sports such as swimming and diving, since wet masks may be difficult to breathe through.
- Gymnastics, cheer stunts and tumbling, and wrestling, to avoid masks getting caught on equipment or accidentally covering eyes.
- Avoid these behaviors:
- Huddles, high-fives, fist bumps, handshakes, etc.
- Sharing food or drink with teammates.
- Cheering, chanting, or singing when closer than 6-8 feet from others.
- Spitting or blowing nose without a tissue.
- Store personal equipment 6-8 feet away from other teammates' equipment.
- Minimize sharing sports equipment when possible.
- Sanitize hands before and after using shared equipment such as balls, bats and sticks.
- Tell a coach if you are not feeling well and leave practice or game with parent or caregiver.
After sports practice or games
- Sanitize or wash hands.
- Wash or replace face masks, towel and practices clothes or uniform.
- Clean personal sports equipment and water bottle.
Talk with your child's pediatrician if you have any questions about youth sports participation safety, based on COVID-19 in your community and your child's health.