Coaches FREQUENTLY Asked Questions
Will participants (coaches, players, administrators) need to be tested for COVID-19 to return to play?
U.S. Soccer has outlined recommendations for medical clearance to return to play for individuals with pre-existing conditions, individuals who have experienced known COVID-19 exposure within the past 14 days, for individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 and for individuals experiencing any illness at this time. Please refer to the Play On Grassroots Soccer Recommendation Guide for details. At this time, participants with no known exposure to COVID-19 will not be required to provide written confirmation of COVID-19 negative status from a physician or test. Testing may become an additional variable in decreasing risk for COVID-19; however, accessibility and costs for the wider public need to be considered and are deferred to federal, state and local regulations. Other guidance for return to play will be determined based on requirements from state and local authorities’ guidelines relative to group size allowances and health officials’ clearance for opening recreational activity facilities.
What should be considered as we plan for trainings?
During Phase I, individual or small group trainings can begin with a maximum of nine (9) players and one (1) coach (or less, based on state/local social distancing guidelines). All trainings should be outside. To minimalize risk of injury and gradually progress to full training intensity, limit trainings to 60 minutes during Phase I. Create a training plan that organizes coaches and participants into small groups that should remain as consistent as possible throughout Phase I. Plan a training schedule whereby there is no more than two small groups on a regulation-size field at any time. Ensure your facility and fields have extensive signage and information available regarding safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection of your facilities, particularly in high-traffic areas. For contact tracing purposes, maintain an active list of all facility users, participants at trainings, and attendees, etc. In the event that someone participating in your activities becomes ill, refer to this list for “tracking or tracing” to determine who at your Club may have been directly exposed to illness, and advise them accordingly.
In Phase II, full team trainings are allowed. Avoid mixing separate teams or age groups. Full scrimmages (inter-squad, across the club or outside the club) are not recommended. Training can extend to 90 minutes, and it should build to full intensity in moderate week-to-week increases. Small-sided games and set-play activities may be slowly and carefully incorporated to increase intensity and sharpen game-play skills. Excepting these select training activities, social distancing should be observed, and participants should be vigilant about following the general hygiene code of conduct outlined below to promote the safety of all those involved in the activity.
It’s still important to develop a schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection of your facilities. Additionally, it’s advised to maintain an active list of all facility users, participants at trainings, and attendees, etc., for contact tracing.
Can parents and guardians attend games and trainings?
During Phase I and Phase II, parents and guardians are not encouraged to attend training and should stay away from the training field. If necessary, however, the hosting organization may consider arranging a designated area for parents. This area should be carefully arranged to ensure all social distancing protocol is followed. (Note that anytime there is one coach alone with players, there should be one adult - designated parent or club staff – observing from a distance, in accordance with the Safe Soccer Framework and the U.S. Center for SafeSport policies and guidance.) Parents and guardians should not congregate together and should follow social distancing guidelines. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have experienced known exposure to COVID-19 in the past 14 days, stay at home and consult your physician.
For Phase III, parents and guardians should not congregate together and follow all social distancing guidelines. Similarly, to the first two phases, the hosting organization could set up family zones that are six feet apart along the sideline. If there are bleachers, it’s important to sanitize between games or training sessions. At no time, should parents ever enter the team bench area. U.S. Soccer recommends that all parents and guardians attending games or trainings should wear proper PPE (i.e. face coverings).
Are there any resources that we can provide to our membership that includes helpful information?
Should we advise teams to travel in any specific ways?
During Phase I, II, and III, individual or small group trainings can begin with a maximum of nine (9) players and one (1) coach (or less, based on state/local social distancing guidelines). Any travel requiring over-night stays, sharing buses or hotels should not occur. Travel with as few people as possible to training (ex: one parent and one child). Carpooling is highly discouraged in Phase I. For families who must ride together with no other alternatives, only rideshare with a family or individual who has practiced appropriate distancing and sheltering requirements established by their local government or public health officials. Rideshare with the same individuals each training. Maintain safe distancing within the vehicle during loading, transport and unloading and wear your PPE. In accordance with the Safe Soccer Framework and the U.S. Center for SafeSport policies and guidance, minor and an adult who is not the minor player's parent/legal guardian should not be alone in the vehicle together.
Are our teams allowed to participate in any regional competitions?
For Phase III, the U.S. Soccer Play On Guidelines only recommend local or single-day competitions to prevent overnight stays in hotels and extensive travel.
How should we be cleaning equipment between uses (balls, goals, cones, etc.)?
Sanitize sports or exercise equipment after each training session according to CDC hygiene standards. Regularly sanitize the equipment using disinfectant wipes or disinfectant (germicide/virucidal) spray. Participants should not share equipment (i.e. water bottles, towels, bibs, etc.) and field set-up should aim to use minimal equipment to limit transmission of virus. Players should not pick-up field equipment, move goals or handle other necessary training equipment.
Should we eliminate communal water jugs and have players bring their own hydration?
How should we handle league play with different clubs from different states with different regulations?
Across the country at any given time, teams, clubs and organizations in different regions will be operating under differing state and local regulations and may be operating in different return-to-play phases. During Phase I, individual or small group trainings can begin with a maximum of nine (9) players and one (1) coach (or less, based on state/local social distancing guidelines). Teams are not recommended to participate in matches or tournaments during Phase I. We will continue to address as we progress to Phase II & III.
Assuming your state/local social distancing guidelines do not prohibit this, Phase II of Play On allows for full team training; however, it does not recommend full scrimmages. Avoid mixing teams and age groups, as well. We will continue to address as we progress to Phase III.
In Phase III, it is recommended to participate only in local or one-day competitions. Regional competitions or those that require extensive travel are not recommended.
What should we do if one of our players, coaches or referees is believed to been exposed to or is showing symptoms of COVID-19?
Should we allow throw-ins?
Beginning with Phase III, players do not need to wear gloves during competition. However, during trainings, players should still wear gloves. Players can wear gloves during games if they feel more comfortable.
Should we allow headers?
Some of our coaches, players and participants are experiencing significant stress due to factors around COVID-19. What do you recommend for those participants?
Do your recommendations change for younger age groups, where it may be difficult to enforce social distancing?
In those instances where you are concerned that younger players may not be as capable at maintaining social distancing parameters, you can decrease the number of players or increase the space in which they are playing to maintain proper distance or increase the space you are using for training.
With the Play On timeline, it could take up to 12 weeks to return to full team competition. Does this also apply to a less-competitive, grassroots recreational league?
The U.S. Soccer Return to Play Phase Guidelines are applicable at every level: from the purely recreational teams and leagues, to the highly competitive programs.
Can we move on to Phase II and III with larger training and competitions despite local guidelines?
Should there be any considerations due to increased temperatures during the Summer months?
Yes. Please refer to U.S. Soccer’s Recognize to Recover resources here. Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and exertional heat stroke (EHS), can be serious and potentially life-threatening conditions which can be brought on or intensified by physical activity. Be educated on the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness and early management. It’s important to follow different heat acclimatization guidelines during practices and conditioning which typically takes 10-14 days. It’s recommended to avoid the hottest part of the day (11am – 4pm), as well.
Making sure players are properly hydrated and have plenty of water. Even though players should bring their own water (advised to bring two personally labeled bottles to training), clubs should have a backup plan to safely provide water in the event a player runs out of water.
Finally, players are not encouraged to wear PPE during active training or competitions and coaches should consider taking a “PPE break” by moving safely 10 feet away from other participants. Follow PPE recommendations provided above.
Will there be postgame handshakes following the game?
Should there be any specific items to consider for pre-game warm-ups?
If different state governments allow more than 10 people to gather, can we expand our group sizes?
While your local government may allow for groups larger than 10, it is not recommended during Phase I. The Phase I guidelines of a maximum of nine (9) players and one (1) coach allow for you to use half of a regulation-size soccer field and still maintain social distance and keep the number of participants to a minimum.
What do you recommend for “contact tracing”? What does this mean and how should we organize this?
Contact tracing means maintaining a list of all facility users, participants at trainings, and attendees, etc. For privacy purposes, the list should be securely stored and not shared publicly. In the event that someone participating in your activities becomes ill, refer to this list to determine who at your Club may have been directly exposed to illness, and advise them accordingly. Your local health department may also offer a course or guidance on contact tracing. The CDC also hasinformation and training on contact tracing.