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Returning to Play

Return-to-Play Notice
Updated  5/26/2020
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Thank you for your continued patience as we navigate the new landscape in this unprecedented time. As stay-at-home orders and business restrictions are loosened, we know that there is a desire to return to play as soon as it is deemed safe to do so. To be clear, this notice does not constitute permission to return to the fields.

This document is intended to provide AYSO/AYSO United membership with information that will assist you in developing your Regional/Club Return-to-Play programming within the ongoing situation of COVID-19. We understand that each Region’s access to resources varies greatly and as such, the information below is not regulatory but is intended to give you a starting point for thoughtful conversation and consideration amongst your Regional and Club Boards as you develop your local strategy. The recommendations rely on a combination of rules and regulations set forth by public health authorities, as well as internal and external experts and other youth sports agencies. Please know that we recognize the implementation of these new guidelines will present challenges for all involved, and AYSO is here to assist our Regions and Clubs in putting these plans into action.

In the coming week, AYSO intends to publish guidelines for alternative play models and COVID-19 based activities (i.e.: grid work, technique in isolation, etc.). This notice serves as guidance for programs that have needs ahead of that timetable.

A phased approach to re-opening is likely to be the case at the State, regional, county, or other municipal level, which will vary throughout the country. Some may have guidance on the return of youth sports, but many will not. We understand that this may make it difficult in planning your Return-to-Play strategies, so to that point, our continued recommended course of action is that you follow your county and state executive orders and public health guidance with regards to community interactions and access to facilities. The information in this document is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, it is for general information purposes only. As information changes daily with COVID-19, AYSO does not claim or assume responsibility for the entirety of this information. If you have specific questions with regards to health and safety guidelines for your area, we advise that you consult your local public health officials. Please understand it is vitally important to follow the local orders in place. These guidelines address only early phases of Return-to-Play, additional guidelines will follow as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve.

We also encourage you to connect with your fellow youth sports leagues in the area to both coordinate efforts and messaging to your families. This coordination will help provide a sense of community and alleviate trepidation that may exist as this next phase begins.

To help you with launching your Fall Registration, you will receive information in the next few days on a “Pre-Registration” feature through SportsConnect that will enable you to get sign-ups without requiring payment yet.

In conclusion, even though the young and healthy may experience a less severe case of COVID-19, every case is potentially life-altering or deadly, particularly in those with risk factors. Health consequences may be long- term, which is why until COVID-19 is either eradicated or a vaccine developed, there is no way of eliminating the risk of infection. This should always be at the forefront when designing and considering Return-to-Play programming and clearly communicated to all participants, including players, parents and volunteers. We will provide language in the next week to help you design a waiver for your members to sign before retaking the field.

We will continue to update you as we add new information to our Ready! Set! PLAYSOCCER! resource website.

Thank you once again for your dedication and we hope you stay safe and well.


A Phased Approach Based on Federal, State and Local Guidelines


General Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers recommendations on how members of the public can limit the spread of the coronavirus. They currently include:

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and exercise equipment (including balls).
  • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Wear a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth in public settings.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from non-household members. Note: research is ongoing on appropriate physical distance for bodies in motion.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay at home if you are sick.


Overall – Standard Practice

  • Healthy Participants Only: Any players, coaches, spectators who are sick will not be allowed at practices or games.
  • Parents, and family members will abide by social distancing regulations and are strongly encouraged to remain inside their vehicles during practice.


Phase 1 – Immediate recommendations upon return to practice


  • Identify strategies for working with public health officials to notify adult leaders, youth and their families if the organization becomes aware of a participant developing COVID-19 who came in contact with others during your activities. Please click here for recommended reporting protocol.
  • Maintain participant confidentiality regarding health status.
  • Sanction practices only when official parks and fields become available by local authority.
  • Have an action plan in place, in case of notification of a positive test result.
  • Provide coaches with a detailed explanation and training on these recommendations.
  • Face masks recommended for coaches, referees and volunteers.
  • Schedule practices with ample space for player distancing.
  • Support coaches with fitness and technique in isolation exercises, grid work and spatial awareness (appropriate content is being developed and will be available).
  • Be sensitive and accommodating to parents who may be uncomfortable with returning to play at this time.
  • Create a communication plan for Region/Club to members and a communication pathway for parents to communicate their concerns or questions with Region/Club leadership (i.e.: BAND app).


  • Coaches will send pre-training communication to families ensuring that only healthy participants attend and reiterate expectations and guidelines.
  • Coaches should maintain social distancing requirements from players and family members.
  • Wearing a face mask is recommended for the duration of the practice.
  • Utilize fitness and technique in isolation exercises, grid work, and spatial awareness to limit physical contact between players (appropriate content is being developed and will be available).
  • Ensure all players have and handle their own labeled equipment (ball, water bottle, training disks, etc.).
  • Coach should be the only person to handle coaching equipment (e.g.: cones, disks, etc.); do not let parents or attendees assist.
  • Hand sanitizer or handwashing on arrival / mid-way and end of training session.
  • No shared equipment in use (players will be provided with individual bibs/pinnies or can bring game jerseys as requested).
  • No physical greeting of players (verbal acknowledgement is expected).
  • Stay positive and create a fun environment in this new normal.

*A designated volunteer or team parent can be added to help assist coach in accordance with the same health and safety guidance designated for the coach.


  • Ensure your child is healthy. Test child’s temperature before departing for soccer practice (if above 100.4, do not attend).
  • Drop off players and receive verbal acknowledgement from the coach.
  • Stay in car or adhere to social distance requirements, based on state and local health requirements.
  • Face masks are recommended.
  • Recommended that child’s clothing is washed after every training.
  • Recommended that all equipment (ball, cleats, shin guards, etc.) are sanitized before and after every practice.
  • Recommended that child has hand sanitizing products with them at every session.
  • Notify your team/club immediately if your child or family member becomes ill for any reason.
  • Do not assist coach with equipment before or after training.
  • Check Region and Coach communication regularly.


  • Inform parent if they feel unwell.
  • Wash hands before and after training.
  • Responsible for cleaning all required equipment after each training sessions (ball, cleats, shin guards, etc.).
  • Bring and use your own labeled hand sanitizer at every session.
  • Do not touch or share anyone else’s equipment.
  • Practice social distancing, place bags and equipment at least 6 feet apart.
  • No sharing drinks or use of water fountains at facility (players should mark their own water bottles).
  • No physical greetings with their teammates (verbal acknowledgement is expected). We are physical distancing not social.).


PLEASE NOTE: This is a live document and is subject to change. As state and local restrictions and guidelines are adjusted in your area with regards to youth sports, AYSO will communicate how to transition into Phase 2 of our Return-to-Play guidance.