According to Teamsnap’s research, as of July 27th, 83.8% of their clients in the US and Canada plan on returning to play youth soccer this fall.
For all of us involved in youth sports, we know the importance of sport for our youth’s mental and physical health. We also understand the importance of getting back on the field safely during COVID-19. Therefore, for those looking to return to play, we have gone ahead and put together a guide on “How to get back on the field as safe as possible during COVID-19”.
Have a clear guide of expectations for players, coaches and parents.
Arizona Soccer Association provided this excellent guide which clearly defines the expectations and requirements of everyone involved. This helps prevent any confusion but will also help provide parents some comfort in knowing protocols are being taken seriously to help keep their child as safe as possible.
Provide your coaches socially distant activities
Stat Sports analyzed data which was provided by 4 English Premier League teams for a total of 11 training sessions completed prior to the introduction of social distancing measures. They recorded how often a player was within 2 meters (6.56 ft feet) of another player and unsurprisingly, they found the warm up activity had the most “incursions” of players. The least being activities such as 11v11 games and isolated technical activities. The full report can be seen here.
Therefore, when creating our training sessions, we need to be creative and think of how to spread out our players. For example, when players arrive at the field have cones set up 6 feet apart, for them to place their bags beside them. Near these bags is where they will go for water breaks.
The Fifa 11+ Warm-up is a common activity, instead of having two lines of players, can we increase that so that each player is isolated? Can we play more games in a larger space? Planning is going to be more important than ever, I encourage you to educate your coaches on this ahead of time so they have time to prepare.
Free socially distanced coaching guide for your coaches with your league’s uniforms. Contact local Rep for more information here.
Consider some basic rule changes
Some of our clients who run their own in house leagues have replaced throw in’s with kick in’s, this will limit the amount of times a player might touch a ball with their hands. For those of us who have played or coaches futsal are used to this rule anyhow.
Provide players additional equipment to help keep them safe
Players should not be sharing water bottles, sunscreen and should be avoiding high-fives. Players should also not be sharing equipment such as pinnies. Many of our clients are providing their players with a pinnie and a ball. That way, players and parents are responsible for cleaning their own equipment.
Many of our programs have then gone ahead and bought all of their team’s goalkeeper gloves, that way they are certain Goalkeepers have an extra layer of protection. We have gloves on sale as low as $4 per pair!
In house soccer rather than travel
In many states, in particular, for those programs which are isolated in more rural areas of the country, it is likely not feasible for you to travel during this time. Therefore, many programs are looking to run in house leagues and are simply providing players a reversible jersey or low-cost polyester shirt rather than expensive travel uniforms. Instead of canceling your whole season, this may be a great option for you and help you save your members some money during this challenging time.
In summary, the benefits of getting children back out on the fields are huge. If we can all do this as safely as possible, we have a great chance of giving children some normality at this time. If we can help provide any additional support through coaching resources, education or equipment please reach out.
-Coach Craig Alston (Challenger Sports / Teamwear)