When are players allowed to begin training again?

Rules and regulations for returning to play will be governed by the requirements of the state and local authorities relative to group size allowances. U.S. Soccer is offering guidelines and best practices for its Members to support them at this time. U.S. Soccer has organized return to play considerations into five phases from Phase 0 (no activities; stay home) through to Phase IV (no playing restrictions related to COVID-19). Clubs have been recommended to adhere to COVID-19 recommendations including: safety protocols to limit exposure, contact tracing, checking for symptoms of COVID-19, sanitizing equipment and facilities, and social distancing in regards to physical interactions for players, coaches, and referees to ensure the safest possible environment. 

I haven’t trained in weeks. Are there best practices to ramp up to full gameplay?

Due to stay-at-home guidelines throughout the country, many players have been unable to train and have been less active while at home. Players may not be physically prepared to return to full intensity training and as a result, are at greater risk for injury or illness should they be placed in a full-intensity training environment. Do not do “too much, too soon.” Trainings are recommended to be no longer than 60 minutes during Phase I. Coaches should carefully assess their players’ fitness levels to best plan for and manage the volume, intensity and frequency of early return-to-play trainings. Avoid greater risk of injury and illness by gradually reintroducing yourself to play in a safe and progressive manner. Coaches should plan to progress to full intensity training over 2-4 weeks.


In Phase II, trainings can be increased to 90 minutes. However, trainings should gradually build in time and intensity during the three to six-week period. Coaches should still monitor their athletes and slow down progression of time and intensity, if needed. Consider integrating recovery strategies at home to minimize the effect of delayed-onset muscle soreness. Methods may include active recovery in a pool or on a bike, use of a foam roll, stretching and more.

The only change during Phase III is full-team trainings can be returned to full length and intensity. Please note that even though games are allowed to resume, but separate teams/age groups should not mix, and full scrimmages should be avoided. Be sure to communicate with your coach if you feel your body needs more time to ramp up to longer, higher-intensity training. With the addition of the referees, you should avoid approaching the referee during disputes. 


Do I need to wear PPE while playing? 

All participants (coaches, players, referees, instructors, administrators) are recommended to wear new or clean PPE upon arrival, departure and when not physically active during activities. While being physically active, PPE may obscure vision, increase respiratory challenges, or increase other injury risk. Provided all screening, hygiene and social distancing measures are followed, masks are not mandatory during exertional moments of training (i.e. when physically active). Guidelines may change based on evolving medical and health information, as well as local state or federal guidelines.

Is contact allowed while playing?

Player should maintain social distancing at all times during Phase I. Social distancing measures are recommended to maintain safety in accordance with state and local guidelines, until deemed no longer necessary. Participants should not touch each other before, during or after training. This includes hugs, high-fives, huddles or as part of training activities.


During Phase II, 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. If a player does not feel comfortable participating in a small-sided game or set play, do not pressure the player to join. As much as possible until the small-sided game or set play begins, players should remain socially distanced. During any break in play, the players should again revert to socially distance themselves.

While competition is permitted during Phase III, players should still avoid intentionally touch each other before, after and during play, except as insectary for the competition or training exercise. 

Can my parents watch my practices or games? 

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, the Club may consider arranging a designated area for parents. However, 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, to align 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 a parent is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have experienced known exposure to COVID-19 in the past 14 days, he or she should stay at home and consult a physician. 

For Phase III, parents and guardians can watch games, however they should not congregate together and follow all social distancing guidelines. U.S. Soccer recommends that all parents and guardians attending games or trainings should wear face coverings. If there are bleachers, they should consider bringing a sanitizing wipe to sanitize your area. At no time, should parents ever enter the team bench area. 

How will set plays work? 

Set plays such as free kicks and corner kicks will happen during competition. The referee will work to eliminate any delays with set plays in order to minimize the amount of time players are in close distance of each other. 

Am I allowed to celebrate with my teammates after scoring a goal?

Yes, you are still allowed to celebrate following a goal. However, U.S. Soccer recommends that you do so while refraining from hugging and high fiving. Instead, players are encouraged to find ways to celebrate a goal while maintaining proper social distancing. 

Will there be postgame handshakes following the game?

At this time, U.S. Soccer recommends that there are no postgame handshakes following games. Teams should find creative ways to show good sportsmanship following the game while keeping social distance. 

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. Be sure to bring at least two water bottles that are labeled for yourself. Feel free to bring more than that – it’s important to bring plenty of water. You should not wear water bottles with teammates. Since PPE over the face can impact breathing, you are not encouraged to wear PPE during active training. If you feel dehydrated, tell your coach immediately. Drinking water throughout the day, not just during your training, will help you stay hydrated.

What should I be doing to minimize my risk of contracting COVID-19? 

Respect the safety precautions and guideline put in place by your club, such as social distancing and hygiene protocols. Take responsibility for simple things you can do to stay safe, such as wearing a face covering to and from training, avoiding sharing water bottles, not touching teammates or equipment, washing your hands before training, showering directly after, and arriving to training fully dressed ready to play. Review the Play On Grassroots Recommendations Guide for more details. It’s important to understand how training in Phase I will be different than what you are used to. Working together by following these new processes will help keep everyone safe. 

Will I 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 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. 

Can I still share water bottles with other players on the team?

No. Participants are recommended to bring their own water bottles / hydration to training. To limit the need to refill bottles onsite, it is recommended that you bring at least two drinks bottles. All water bottles should be clearly labeled with your name, and you should not share or touch anyone else’s bottles. Single-use bottles should be discarded immediately on site, and water breaks should adhere to social distancing guidelines. Fluid breaks are recommended at least once every 15 minutes, but will largely be dictated by the duration/intensity of the session. As we head into summer, all organizations, clubs, teams, coaches and players are reminded to follow the heat policy outlined by Recognize to Recover here

What should I do if I think one of my teammates or coaches is showing COVID-19 symptoms?

Please tell your parents who can communicate with the coach or club administrator. It is important that we all work together to adhere to safety recommendations and limit the spread of COVID-19. 

What should if I believe I’ve been exposed to or am showing symptoms of COVID-19?

If you believe you have been exposed, stay at home and begin to self-quarantine for 14 days. Contact and follow the directions of your physician. Tell your parents who can communicate with the coach or club administrator.