Getting Ready for Kids’ Sports

Local schools’ plans may be up in the air for 2021, but the American Academy of Pediatrics has some suggestions for kids’ sports this season. 

Wear masks

We’re still learning more about COVID-19 all the time. At one point, there was uncertainty about wearing face coverings while exercising. However, the AAP now recommends masks for all players, almost all the time:

  • between practice drills
  • while not on the playing field during competition
  • when traveling with the team
  • on the sidelines
  • in locker rooms

There are exceptions. Competitive cheerleading and gymnastics, water sports, and wrestling are all sports in which athletes should not wear masks during competition because they could present choking hazards or make breathing difficult. The AAP “strongly recommended”s  that masks be worn during “all indoor sports training and competition (except in the examples noted above).”  

Quarantine

Young athletes who have symptoms of COVID-19 or a diagnosis of the illness need a doctor’s clearance before getting back in the game.

Here’s the recommended timeline for asymptomatic or mild cases:

  • 10 days after a diagnosis of COVID-19 AND
  • 24 hours symptom-free without medications

However, your pediatrician should do a complete exam, including a check on cardiac function.

Kids who have had serious cases of COVID-19 should not return to sports for three to six months after recovery.

Every child who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus should return to training gradually beginning with 15 minutes of light exertion, building up to full participation after one week. 

Social distancing

It may not be possible to limit contact during play. However, planning for kids’ sports should consider the following ideas from the Centers for Disease Control:

  • Focus on individual skill-building and training.
  • Train with small groups and keep kids in the same group.
  • Hold fewer competitions during the season.
  • Avoid sharing equipment.
  • Sanitize equipment frequently.
  • Have parents help players remember to practice social distancing during downtime.

Limiting the amount of time kids are in contact with each other, and keeping doors and windows open for ventilation will help reduce risks of infection.

With these plans in place, the physical, emotional, and social benefits of sports can outweigh the risk of disease transmission.