USA Football Releases Guidelines for Youth Sports Return
Based on the guidelines given by the CDC, USA Football first advises its youth leagues to connect with local health departments to see which part of the CDC phase its community is currently in.The next step suggests consulting with local school systems to share any available information and resources. Additionally, programs and leagues should be regularly screening for COVID-19 symptoms; practice socially-distanced meetings in the first two phases of USA Football’s plan. Once at phase three, separation can be adjusted to 3-to-6 feet apart; require separate, clearly labeled footballs, drink bottles, towels, and personal items; and have non-players wear masks.
Masks are strongly recommended for all coaches and optional for athletes.
“During this very uncertain time, it’s important that parents know that USA Football has a detailed plan for getting their children back to the activities they enjoy,” Dr. Michael Koester, chair of the National Federation of State High School Associations’ Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, said to the New York Times. “This document provides expert guidance in safely returning young athletes to football in a thoughtful and deliberate manner.”
Phase one centers around workouts and drills with practices limited to 10 or fewer people — coaches included — that are six feet apart, and no equipment is to be shared.
The second phase allows for practices of up to 10 people inside and 50 people outside, provided that the same groups of five to 10 teammates stay together in station-based activities. Individual drills can be done either unopposed or against soft surfaces, and all bags and sleds must be sanitized between uses.
Players can work on passing, kicking, punting, and shotgun snaps in the second phase, but no hand-offs or under-center snaps will be allowed.
In the third phase, teams can partake in modified flag football simulations and 7-on-7 games, modified tackle practices with up to 50 people in small groups. Contact, including blocking, may be introduced with partners in small groups.
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USA Football has worked with the CDC and other medical experts, including those with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and the National Federation of State High School Associations, in developing the phases introduced this week.
To read the full story from the New York Times on USA Football preparing for its return to youth sports, click here.