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Return to Play: What’s Your Plan?

July 22, 2020

We are all eager to return to sports play, but nobody wants to jump the gun or set a schedule that could worsen the spread of COVID-19. Health and safety precautions must be top of mind so players, parents, and coaches all feel comfortable moving forward.

You need a Return to Play Plan.

Good intentions won’t do. Some general ideas on what you can do won’t be enough, either. Your RTP Plan must be a formal, well-considered strategy – a detailed playbook you can confidently and effectively implement.

Those of us involved in youth sports can easily relate to the COVID-19 mantra -- “we’re all in this together” – because it’s who we are. Teams working together toward a common goal. So creating a solid RTP Plan makes perfect sense. It will:

  • Force you to address all key considerations surrounding smart Return to Play
  • Reassure participants and the greater community that you are doing all you can to return to play safely, in accordance with the latest science and CDC/local government guidelines
  • Help protect your organization from potential liability issues
  • Increase the likelihood that the youth you serve can get back into action sooner, without sacrificing public health

So let’s play ball. But let’s do it safely.

Every organization and community is different, so your playbook must be custom-tailored for your situation. In collaboration with The PLAY Sports Coalition, SquadLocker has created a detailed guide you can download for free and use to craft your own playbook. Key considerations you will need to think about include:

When is the right time to return?

Can you function within new and changing state and local guidelines that affect your program? What you will do take a few steps backward if your community experiences a new wave of COVID-19 cases?

The risks and legalities

COVID-19 requires you to take a fresh look at insurance, waivers, signage and other play-related communications, and how you will deal with non-compliant participants or fans. What will you do if someone in your organization contracts COVID-19?

Operating details

This is where you’ll create your playbook. Is play space still available? How will you have to restructure operations within that space? What precautionary supplies (masks, hand sanitizer, etc.) will you need in addition to traditional gear and supplies? How can you arrange no-contact ordering and delivery of uniforms for players? You’ll need to assign an RTP point person, and establish a system to self-monitor so you can make adjustments to your playbook, if needed.

Keeping everyone in the loop

In this time when everyone is anxious to return to play but equally anxious to stay safe, communications are critical. From the owner of your play space to coaches, refs, players, parents and the community, you’ll want to communicate clearly and often to build trust that you have your bases covered.



Youth sports organizations may be considered part of an industry, but organized sports – through YSOs and schools -- are also a way of life for millions of kids, families and their communities. Youngsters need the camaraderie they’ve been missing, not to mention all the physical, mental and psychological benefits that come from team sports.

With a Return to Play Plan in place, you will know you’re truly ready to take the next step. We’ll be watching for you from the stands, ready to cheer you on.


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