Return to Play Recommended Guidelines

We've lifted the suspension of play that has been in place due to the COVID-19 virus and pandemic.

The final decision to get back on the field has been returned to local leagues and clubs in every district, county, and city. The decisions leagues and clubs make to return to play must abide by and be done in conjunction with directives established by the State of California and local county health directors and departments. Cal North has prepared a number of recommended guidelines to aid leagues and clubs in developing their own unique return to play protocols.

We recommend that leagues and clubs start planning now for a full fall season if you have not already started to do so. It is important for your league, clubs, and teams that you plan now so that when play is fully opened, you are ready to go. Returning to play will be accomplished in stages/steps similar to those now established by the State and Counties. The recommended guidelines and lists of responsibilities we have developed should be used to help each league and club develop their approach to getting players, teams, and coaches back on the field.

Please remember that the protocols developed by your league or club need to be applied in conjunction with State and local directives and followed by your coaches, players, and parents.


Download the Cal North Return to Play Guidelines

(Spanish Version)


Return to Play Guidelines for Leagues and Clubs

The 1-4 step approach for Return To Play provides direction and understanding for coaches, players, families and communities to safely engage in youth soccer. How play is “re-opened” is a local decision made by each League and Club subject to State and local government directives. We urge you to review the recommendations we have provided and adapt the steps to fit within your respective circumstances, while also following the directives from the State of  California and your local health directors. Before beginning to play games, leagues and clubs need to introduce training and practices in a manner that provides a safe environment, not only relative to COVID-19, but also to the prolonged layoff that athletes have had.

NOTE: While the CDC recommends six (6) feet for social distancing, due to the nature of physical activity in sport, the social distancing distance is increased to ten (10) feet.

Step 1

Low Risk – No ContactTraining – 12 or Less Participants

* In-person training for minimum 14 days prior to moving to Step 2.
* Only non-contact activities –conditioning/skill development
* Maximum 2 coaches/staff allowed per half field during practices
* No more than 11 players present at the scheduled time; only 1 training session per half field
* No two adjacent fields to be used at the same time
* Observe proper social distancing for players and coach at all times
* Players remain 10’ apart on/off-field
* No physical contact during training
* No sharing of water or equipment including soccer balls
* Players & coach should sanitize all gear between each training session
* Only coach should handle cones
* No spectators allowed (parents remain in vehicles; at-risk stay home)
* Coaches/trainer should wear masks
* Players should wear face-covering or mask when not actively training

Step 2

Medium Risk – Return to Activity – Group Size of 30 or Less

* In-person training for minimum 14 days prior to moving onto Step 3
* Maximum 2 coaches/staff allowed per half field during practices
* No more than 30 participants present at the scheduled time; only 1training session per half field
* Observe proper social distancing for players and coach at all times
* No physical contact during training
* No huddles, handshakes, hugs, high 5s
* Participants remain 6’ apart off-field
* No sharing of water or equipment
* All soccer balls should be sanitized before & after practice
* Soccer balls may be shared but not touched with hands (except GK with gloves)
* No spectators allowed (parents remain in vehicles; at-risk stay home)
* Coaches/trainer should wear masks
* Players should wear face-covering or mask when not actively training

Step 3

Medium-High Risk – Team Training – Controlled Scrimmage or Practice Game – Some Physical Contact

* Resumption of full team training &introduction of scrimmages & practice games
* Maximum 2 coaches/staff allowed per half field during practices
* Only 2 coaches & manager allowed for scrimmage or practice game per team per half field
* Only physical contact necessary for training; should be limited
* No sharing of water or equipment
* All soccer balls should be sanitized before & after practice
* Soccer balls may be shared but not touched with hands (except GK with gloves)
* Limit close group discussions* No huddles, handshakes, hugs, high 5s
* Participants remain 6’ apart off-field* Limited spectators with masks allowed with proper social distancing; no contact with players or teams* Advise at-risk spectators to stay home

Step 4

High Risk – Full Return to Play with Resumption of League Play

* No limitation on participants per field
* No restriction on training session
* Physical contact should be minimized
* Limit close group discussions
* No huddles, handshakes, hugs, high 5s
* Participants remain 6’ apart off field
* No sharing of water or equipment
* Soccer balls excluded, shared but nottouched (except GK with gloves)
* Only coach should handle cones
* All soccer balls should be sanitizedbefore & after practice, and at halftime ofmatches
* Spectators allowed but maintainphysical distancing & no contact withplayers; space out as much as possible
* At-risk spectators take precaution
* Observe game from other vantagepoints where possible
* Recommend no travel out-of-state

Return to Play Responsibilities

The recommended responsibilities below are based on information provided to us by US Youth Soccer, the CDC, the State of California, and local health experts. We urge you to review the recommendations we have provided while also following the directives from the State of California and your local health directors.

PLAYER

* Follow all Return to Play guidelines
* Take your temperature daily and especially before activities with others
* Wash hands thoroughly before and after all activities
* Bring and use hand sanitizer with you to every training
* Wear a face covering or mask before and immediately after all training
* Ensure all equipment (ball, cleats, shinguards, pinnie) is sanitized prior to and after any activity
* Do not share water, food, or equipment
* Respect and practice social distancing, as required in these guidelines
* Place equipment bags, etc. at least 6-feet apart
* No high-5’s, handshakes, hugs or group celebrations

If you are uncomfortable with returning to play, DON’T.

PARENT

* Ensure that your player is healthy; check your child’s temperature prior to attending any activity
* Notify your club/coach if your player becomes ill for any reason
* No car pooling of players unless from the same family
* No spectators at training/practice in Steps 1 & 2; parents should observe from their cars
* Spectators & parents should maintain proper social distancing in Steps 3 & 4
* When at training, wear a mask if outside your car
* Ensure player’s clothing is washed after every activity
* Ensure all equipment (ball, cleats, shin guards, pinnie) is sanitized prior to and after any activity
* Supply your player with individual sanitizer at every training
* Adhere to all social distancing guidelines
* Ensure your player has plenty of water

If you are not comfortable having your child return to play, DON’T

COACH

* Follow all Return to Play guidelines
* Inquire how players are feeling; send them home if they are not feeling well
* Ensure all players have their own individual equipment (ball, water, shin guards, pinnie, etc.)
* Ensure activities provide adequate social distancing per state and local health guidelines
* Coach is the only person to handle communal equipment (cones, discs); do not enlist parental assistance
* Scrimmage vests or pinnies are not recommended unless they can be issued individually to each player for their own laundry and care
* Wear a face covering or mask when not actively coaching; maintain social distancing from players
* Have fun and stay positive – players and parents are looking to you to stay calm, supportive and caring at this time

Respect players, parents and families by accommodating those that may not yet be comfortable returning

LEAGUE/CLUB

* Distribute and post Return to Play guidelines to all members
* Provide adequate field space for social distancing as applicable to various stages
* Establish a designated drop off and pick up zone for each field or parking lot
* Train and educate all staff to your league and club’s guidelines and protocols for Return to Play
* Have an action plan in place in case of a positive test for COVID-19
* Work with public health to notify adult leaders, youth and their families if the league or club learns a participant or adult leader has developed COVID-19 and may have been infectious to others while at activity
* Maintain participant confidentiality regarding health status
* Document reasonable and prudent steps taken and completed to keep players, coaches, staff and spectators as safe as reasonably possible
* Be prepared to shut down and stop operations

Be sensitive and accommodating to parents that may be uncomfortable with returning to play

Additional Resources

Local Health Departments

In the development of your league or club's return to play protocols, you must follow the directives of the state of California and your local county health department. 

Find your local County Health Department

National Governing Bodies Resources

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