Getting back on the field
As early as July 2020, USA Lacrosse announced a set of comprehensive return to play recommendations to assist the lacrosse community in following the appropriate steps to mitigate the risk for all participants in the COVID-19 environment. The full recommendations, linked further down on this page, were developed by a medical advisory committee that included members of USA Lacrosse's Sport Science & Safety Committee. More recently, USA Lacrosse also issued safety reminders in advance of the 2022 season.
● COVID-19 Safety Reminders (January 2022)
Things to Know
Above all, stay at home if you are feeling sick, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or have a temperature above 100.3
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and equipment. Do not share equipment.
Consider small group practices and small-sided competitions to reduce the number of participants in each session.
Non-competitors should wear face coverings (optional for athletes)
Before returning to practice-type activities, it's imperative to conduct at a minimum, a two-week period of guided athletic skills training.
Use social distancing guidelines of six feet separation whenever possible. Space equipment apart on sidelines to help maintain distancing.
Make the most of the time together and pre-plan to avoid confined huddles and needless standing around.
Return to Play Stages
At home individual training
Aligned with state/local public health guidelines that do not permit or recommend any size group gathering, outside of family members, in any public setting.
Goal: Hone sport-specific skills at home with individual drills that can be done in backyard or driveway. Prepare for sports participation with general cardiovascular conditioning, core work and body weight strength. Work on injury prevention activities, such as those offered in the US Lacrosse LaxFit course (free to members):
All activities should follow guidelines listed in this document.
- Wear a cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth in public settings. Athletes may wear a face mask during lacrosse activity.(see Athlete and Parent Responsibilities)
- Stay at least 6 feet away from non-household members.
- Individual training sessions in your home/residence using your own equipment.
TRAINING/ INJURY PREVENTION
- Virtual, 1v1 coaching
- Training sessions during this period should focus on skill concepts: wall ball, ground balls, shooting on empty cage.
- Individual strength and conditioning, speed and agility training resources
Small Group (less than 10) Modified Lacrosse Activity/Practice
Aligned with state/local public health guidelines that allow for small group (under 10) gatherings in a public or private setting.
Risk: Mild to moderate
Goal: Continue conditioning with small, socially-distanced community based groups. Improve hand-eye coordination, footwork, shooting skills. Continue improving cardiovascular and lacrosse fitness in a supportive group setting for enhanced mental and physical health.
All activities should follow guidelines listed in this document.
- It is not known what the appropriate distancing is in an outdoor setting involving physical exertion (as in sport) that may mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19
- Establish a COVID Action Plan (CAP) to determine your pre-participation screening requirements for participants and for managing spread of COVID-19, should a participant become sick or test positive. (COVID-19 Action Plan) – see appendix for sample
- Transmission risk of COVID-19 will be greater the more time spent around others.
- Traveling across state lines or far distances to train or practice should be avoided.
- Exposure for COVID-19 transmission is higher when within 6 feet of a sick person for more than 5 minutes. Stay at least 6 feet away from non-household members. Social distancing should be followed by those in attendance, at all times.
- Required face masks for staff, coaches, and designated adults serving as hygiene support for all practices and activities. Athletes may wear a face mask during lacrosse activity. Face coverings should cover nose and mouth. (see Athlete and Parent Responsibilities)
- No huddles; no pre-or post-activity in-person meetings.
- No handshakes, high-fives, fist-bumps or skin-to-skin contact.
- Individual training sessions in your home/ residence or at an approved public outdoor facility, using your own equipment. No indoor practices or events during this stage are recommended.
- No spectators (including parents) on or near the field during lacrosse practices or activities. Parents should stay in vehicles during practices.
- Outdoor practices are recommended, over indoor practices, as outdoor venues are better ventilated than indoor venues. There are also benefits to mental health documented, from even short engagements in green spaces. Risks of developing upper respiratory tract infections have also been reported at higher rates amongst athletes in indoor settings, compared to outdoor settings.
- Full-sized or half-sized fields may be used, as long as social distancing between players can be maintained, and drill stations on the field are spaced effectively to allow for room to safely conduct small group activities, during practices.
- Before returning to practice, it’s imperative to conduct, at a minimum, a two-week period of guided athletic skills training. Introduction of a proper dynamic warm-up and drills to acclimate athletes with multi-directional movement. The adaptation phase should be completed prior to implementing sport-specific skills and is likely to change based on the frequency and age of participant.
- Focus should be getting back to practice, as more time is needed for conditioning, training in order to be ready to return to competition.
- A competition of any sort, even a small-sided competition should not be played within stage two (even if 10 players are able to gather together), as potential for injury is greater when competition is introduced.
- Coaches should make the most of the time together: communicate pre-practice with athletes and parents, strategy and more in-depth coaching all done virtually.
- Recommend that practices should not include more than 8 athletes on the field, at a time (allows for one coach and one recommended hygiene coordinator).
- Assign area that ensures adequate physical distance between each player, for them to place their equipment and water, so that they can return to during breaks in activity. Between training efforts, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet apart.
- Recommend that sessions should begin at 30 minutes in duration and following a transition period that can be evaluated every 2 weeks – can increase up to 60 minutes, allows athletes to have a graduated return that minimizes contact and allows for play that follows the 50/30/20/10 workload/progression model (see NSCA Resource document included in white paper)
- Take training level of each athlete into account and establish new baselines for each athlete. Coaches should introduce and implement use of a recovery assessment tool upon arrival and at the conclusion of each session. The first phase could consist of the following:
- Progression of linear short distance acceleration / deceleration
- Lateral movement (shuffle)
- Core training
- Low level (intensity) endurance
- Avoid contact drills or any drills that require standing in line.
- Training sessions or practices during this period should focus on skill concepts: wall ball, ground balls, shooting, passing, clearing.
- Build in appropriate time for warm-up and cool-down, based on length of session.
- Time spent training should be well-planned by coaches or team leaders, timed appropriately to reduce time spent lingering on the field and efficient. Time spent together is productive practice time.
- Individual strength and conditioning resources:
- Individual speed and agility training resources:
Medium group (less than 50) Modified intra-squad scrimmages/practices
Aligned with state/local public health guidelines that allow for under 10 people to gather in groups indoors at a time or up to 50 people, to gather outdoors at a time.
Goal: Once appropriate fitness levels are attained, this stage allows for increasing intensity and competitiveness in drills, including game-specific drills.
Follow all guidance provided for hygiene/distancing, facility/event and training/prevention as referenced in Stage 2, in addition to any new recommendations outlined below:
- Required face masks for staff, coaches, officials and designated adults serving as hygiene support for all practices, scrimmages, games and activities. Athletes may wear a face mask during lacrosse activities. Face coverings should cover nose and mouth.
- Group training sessions in your home/residence or at an approved public outdoor facility, using your own equipment.
TRAINING/ INJURY PREVENTION
- Competition with small or full roster sizes allowable. There remains a greater potential for injury when competition is introduced without adequate training.
- Competition options may include a 6v6 or 7v7 format to allow for fewer players.
- Recommend that practices allow for at least one coach and one recommended hygiene or safety coordinator.
- Recommend that sessions should begin at 60 minutes in duration and following a transition period that can be evaluated every 2 weeks – can increase up to 90 minutes, allowing athletes to have a graduated return that minimizes contact and allows for play that follows the 50/30/20/10 workload/progression model.
- Game play modifications for aspects of boys’ and girls’ games are recommended to minimize higher risk activities that limit extended closeness and contact between athletes. Examples of game considerations where there is extended closeness and/or contact include the draw/face-off and any positioning that would allow bodies to make contact or be positioned within 6 feet of one another. (Additional recommendations are in development)
- See Guidance for Event/ Facility Operators/ Officials (Additional recommendations are in development)
Medium group (less than 50) local competition/practices from teams within same locale
Aligned with state/local public health guidelines that allow for up to 50 people, to gather indoors or outdoors, at a time.
Risk: Moderate to high.
Goal: Create a more competitive environment with local groups to enhance skills while protecting athletes from risks of travel and interactions with different communities with different risk profiles.
Follow all guidance provided for hygiene/distancing, facility/event and training/prevention as referenced in Stages 2 and 3.
Larger group gatherings (more than 50) and full competition resumption
Aligned with state/local public health guidelines that allow for groups larger than 50.
Goal: Full return to larger competitive events, including participants from a variety of communities/regions. Events should be evaluated for safety considerations and continued diligence to mitigate virus transmission.
- All event staff must wear cloth face coverings that covers nose and mouth and regularly sanitize their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- All coaches and team personnel must wear cloth face coverings, that covers nose and mouth, at all times.
- During games, officials should do their best to maintain 6 feet of distance from coaches, player, staff and spectators as well as other officials and if they choose, they may wear cloth face masks that covers nose and mouth. When off of the field, officials should wear cloth face masks and continue to maintain 6 feet of distance from others.
- During games, athletes should do their best to maintain 6 feet of distance from other players, coaches and officials and if they choose, they may wear a face mask that covers nose and mouth, during lacrosse games and activity. When interacting with other people in a public setting, off the field, all athletes should wear cloth face coverings and maintain appropriate social distancing. (see Athlete and Parent Responsibilities in USL RTP Guide).
- All spectators and family members must wear cloth face masks that covers nose and mouth in public settings and maintain 6 feet of distance from one another.
- For helmet wearers, face shields are not endorsed or recommended by US Lacrosse – but they may be worn, if the manufacturer of the shield has received approval by the helmet manufacturer that the shield is being worn in. This is to ensure proper fit and stability. Manufacturers of helmets may design, develop and test face shields within the parameters of all applicable rulebooks and standards for use in their brand of helmets.
- According to the CDC, it is not known if face shields provide any benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities or as a substitute for cloth face coverings. Some people may choose to use a face shield when sustained close contact with other people is expected. If face shields are used without a mask, they should wrap around the sides of the wearer’s face and extend to below the chin. Disposable face shields should only be worn for a single use. Reusable face shields should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.
- Event staff and volunteers should participate in daily health screenings, (ie: a temperature check and symptom reporting.) Any staff or volunteers experiencing symptoms will be directed to local health resources and will not work their scheduled shift.
- Confirmation of screenings should be completed by event staff for all participants and spectators upon entrance to the facility parking lots. For admittance to the event facility, a successful screening must be completed.
- Event staff should maintain contact list for all players, coaches and officials as well as a record of games played for contact tracing purposes.
- Table staff should maintain distance from each other.
- Coaches on side-lines should make sure no contact is occurring between athletes, coaches or officials off-field – whether during pre-game, mid-game, or post game (no huddles handshakes, high-fives, fist bumps, etc).
- Event staff should ensure that there is adequate time provided to teams and officials for hydration, sanitation and recovery between games. Staggered entry and exit times for teams should be implemented to minimize interaction and exposure time between groups.
- Mouthguards should be kept in athletes’ mouths at all times during practices and games. When removed, mouthguards should be kept in protective case, and cleaned before future use. Hands used to touch a removed mouthguard should be sanitized before touching anything or anyone.
- No spitting should be permitted anywhere at event.
- Outside food and drink may be necessary, if teams and staff are on site at an all-day event. Ensure that there are no tables or areas where shared food and drink are displayed.
- Modifications to game play should be considered to minimize contact and extended closeness. US Lacrosse has provided some suggestions for game-play modifications.
- When determining a date to conduct or participate in a large-scale lacrosse event, the state and/or local government jurisdiction for the property must be within a re-opening phase that permits opening of private sports facilities, athletic fields or outdoor recreation; and/or gatherings of an appropriate size. Any ambiguity in these guidelines should be clarified with the government entity prior to proceeding.
- Before event occurs, event operators and venue should assess the local virus transmission/ positivity rates within the locale that the event is occurring in and determine the risk of hosting or cancelling event if/or when the positivity rate in that locale has increased beyond manageable levels.
- Before event occurs, event operators and venue should assess the local virus transmission/ positivity rates in the regions where visiting teams, officials are traveling in from, and determine the risk of hosting or cancelling event or asking teams to stay home, if or when the positivity rates in locales where teams are coming from has increased beyond manageable levels.
- The venue should share its detailed re-opening protocols and event schedules with the appropriate state and local government.
- All Event Operators should have a COVID Action Plan and amend their EAP to include risk mitigation steps for communicable diseases. The CAP should be communicated to all event participants prior to the event and posted on the event website, as well as on-site
- It is recommended that event operators limit spectators attending events, to include only one parent or guardian per participant.
- Unsupervised participants (siblings and pets) should not be permitted at event.
- It is recommended that if there are food and drink vendors on site, they must also adhere to all COVID-19 hygiene related practices and crowd management must be in place to ensure lines do not allow groups to congregate.
- Signage at event should include, but not be limited to, facility policies and procedures, COVID-19 symptom awareness, expected behavior and assumption of risk, social distancing markers for restroom and concession lines, handwashing guidelines in restrooms, closures of areas (ie: playgrounds, umpire's dressing room)
- Field layout should provide room for teams to spread out along sidelines and spectators to spread out in spectator areas, and in between fields there should be no gathering areas for teams or spectators.
- Cleaning and disinfecting of all equipment on field in-between games (ie: scorer’s table, clocks used in games) and other used common areas at event (bathrooms, sanitizing station, event info table) should occur on a more frequent basis throughout the event.
- Where possible, modifications should be made to the facilities to minimize guest contact with surfaces and to facilitate social distancing, including doors/entrances should be kept open and/or foot-operated door openers will be installed. Water fountains should be disabled, shuttle services suspended and playground areas closed. Within restrooms, every other restroom sink and toilet/urinal should be closed to facilitate distancing and automatic hand dryers should be replaced with paper towels. Event staff should direct traffic flow and capacities in closed areas
- Frequently-touched areas at venue, such as bleachers, picnic tables, trash receptacle lids should be removed or closed to public.
- Sanitation areas (with alcohol-based hand sanitizers and wipes) should be places near each field, by officials staging area, by every restroom, at the info table and each scorers table and at entrance and exit of facility.
- No score update board should be posted on site. All scores and game schedule updates should be posted electronically.
- A separate area such as a first aid office/tent or EMT office/tent should be established to take potentially sick patients to be evaluated. Adequate supply of PPE should be available at this tent/area.
- Exhibitors/vendors should be limited and required to submit their safety protocol plan prior to the event for review and approval.
- Team and coach check-ins should be done virtually, and not on-site or in person.
- Team tailgates or tented large group gatherings for spectators/families and team participants between games should not be allowed at events..
TRAINING/ INJURY PREVENTION
- Incidence of non-contact related injuries are higher following a period of inactivity.
- Risk of non-contact injuries is higher if training workloads and/or recovery strategies are not adjusted accordingly.
- It is recommended that athletes participate in at least 6 weeks of practice, strength training and conditioning before returning to games or tournament play, in order to minimize the potential risk of injury.
- Event Operators should consider limiting length of games (no full-length games), and should consider limiting the number of games played in a single day to result in no more than 2 hours of play, per day, per team. (ie: 3, 40 minute games or 2, 50 minute games).
- Event Operators should consider eliminating any championship or elimination format from their schedules.
- All protective lacrosse equipment required for or allowed for use by participants should be cleaned by wearer before use, and should be worn as intended during all lacrosse activities. No one else should be handling any individual’s equipment.
- Before participating in any practice, game or multi-game event, participants should hydrate effectively, eat healthy foods that nourish and sustain the body for high intensity activity.
- Participants should bring own water/hydration and food supply to event to replenish body in between games. Food and water sharing amongst participants is not recommended.
- Sunscreen should be worn by all participants and re-applied throughout the day, to minimize the potential for burns and skin damage.
GUIDANCE FOR WHEN SOMEONE GETS SICK/ TEST POSITIVE FOR COVID-19 – AT OR AFTER EVENT (From CDC)
(HAVE THIS PLAN POSTED ON EVENT SITE, AND BE READY TO IMPLEMENT WHEN LEARNING AN EVENT PARTICIPANT HAS TESTED POSITIVE FROM COVID-19)
- Advise sick individuals of home isolation criteria
- Sick coaches, staff members, umpires/officials, or players should not return to event until they have met CDC’s criteria to discontinue home isolation.
- Isolate and transport those who are sick
- Make sure that coaches, staff, officials, players, and families know that sick individuals should not attend the youth sports event, and that they should notify youth sports officials (e.g., the COVID-19 point of contact) if they (staff) or their child (families) become sick with COVID-19 symptoms, test positive for COVID-19, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case.
- Immediately separate coaches, staff, officials, and players with COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, shortness of breath) at any youth sports activity. Individuals who are sick should go home or to a healthcare facility, depending on how severe their symptoms are, and follow CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick. Individuals who have had close contact with a person who has symptoms should be separated and sent home as well, and follow CDC guidance for community-related exposure (see “Notify Health Officials and Close Contacts” below). If symptoms develop, individuals and families should follow CDC guidance for caring for oneself and others who are sick.
- Establish procedures for safely transporting anyone who is sick to their home or to a healthcare facility. If you are calling an ambulance or bringing someone to the hospital, try to call first to alert them that the person may have COVID-19.
- Clean and disinfect all equipment and surfaces.
- Close off areas used by a sick person and do not use these areas until after cleaning and disinfecting them (for outdoor areas, this includes surfaces or shared objects in the area, if applicable).Wait at least 24 hours before cleaning and disinfecting. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible. Ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing them securely away from children.
- Notify health officials and close contacts
- In accordance with state and local privacy and confidentiality laws and regulations, youth sports organizations should notify local health officials, youth sports program staff, umpires/officials, and families immediately of any case of COVID-19 while maintaining confidentiality in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) external icon and other applicable laws and regulations.
- Work with local health officials to develop a reporting system (e.g., letter) youth sports organizations can use to notify health officials and close contacts of cases of COVID-19.
Advise those who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 to stay home and self-monitor for symptoms, to follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop, and consider contacting their healthcare provider.
Return to Play Resources
USA Lacrosse Resources
Best practices, tips and sample forms for coaches, officials, program leaders and parents.
Links to resources from organizations such as the CDC, WHO and state departments of health.
A listing of the subject-matter experts who helped shape the USA Lacrosse Return to Play recommendations.
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