Safety Guidelines When Playing Sports During the Pandemic

The pandemic has forced the world to change how we approach day-to-day activities, from social distancing to wearing masks and regularly washing our hands. The most affected by these changes are people who participate in sports, limiting what they can play or not having to play it all together. However, in areas where the pandemic rates are slowly and steadily dropping, numerous organized sports groups prepare for a game.

Gym owners, coaches, athletes, and parents must share a safety plan to ensure that they don’t spread the virus amongst themselves and to others. So how are these sports groups keeping safe in the middle of this pandemic? What safety guidelines are they following before they start letting their athletes play?

Bring Your Own Equipment

Bringing your own equipment whenever possible, lowers the risk of infection through contact. This equipment might include balls, protective gear, bats, face masks, hand sanitizer, water bottles, towels, shoes, and gloves.

Parents and coaches must be careful to label all personal items and prohibit players from borrowing and lending equipment whenever necessary. It is critical that even when playing sports, no one in the team should share anything unnecessary.

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Do Not Let Athletes Who Are Feeling Sick Participate

This rule is a no-brainer but must still be said. Athletes should not play and must self-quarantine if they feel “sick” or are sick or have had any close contact with someone who has had the virus. If an athlete or any of his family members living with them has symptoms of the virus — they should not go to practice or games until a doctor has given the ok to practice again.

Practice in Small Team Sizes

The virus relies on social gatherings to spread, so lowering the number of athletes practicing at a given time can decrease the risk of contracting the virus. Limit the team composition to only the group's core members; extras such as water-boys and bench warmers must not participate in practices whenever possible. Not adding more players this season on your team can also decrease the likelihood of spreading the virus.

This isn’t to say that you should exclude everyone who isn’t part of the core to practice. Instead, divide your team into the cores and the greenhorns. The core team could be scheduled to practice on the first week of every month, and the greenhorns can be scheduled to practice on the second week, so on and so forth.

Sanitize Everything

Whenever equipment is not being used, coaches, parents, athletes, and gym owners should sanitize their equipment whenever possible. This can prevent the spread of the virus through surface contact.

Wear Face Masks

Everyone in the immediate vicinity should wear their face masks at all times whenever possible. This rule applies to everyone, especially the coaches, gym owners, parents, umpires, referees, and spectators.

The only exception to this rule is when athletes are participating in sports that can get the mask stuck in a piece of equipment or sports where it could accidentally cover their vision like gymnastics and close contact sports that involve grappling such as MMA or wrestling, and where masks aren’t possible such as swimming.

Social Distance Whenever Possible

Social distancing is a necessity and must be practiced whenever applicable. Activities such as warm-ups, conditioning, and drills must practice social distancing as this does not require close contact.

Educate Your Athletes and Gym Members

The greatest tool for everybody against this pandemic is knowledge. As a coach or gym owner, you have to inform your athletes of the CDC's safety guidelines to combat this pandemic. Inform the participants about your sports establishment's actions to protect them and what they can do to protect themselves and everyone around them.

You must also encourage everyone to wear a mask or deny them admission or practice time when they refuse to do so. As a gym owner or coach, you must be a role model for those around you to foster an environment of health and safety.

 

Athletes, gym-goers, coaches, and parents must keep in mind that the pandemic is yet to be over and participating in sports right now can expose them to unnecessary risks. However, as long as social distancing is practiced, and everyone in the team or gym adheres to the CDC health guidelines, the risk should be minimal to everyone involved.

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