(Baptist Health) – For athletes of all ages, joining a summer sports league is a great way to exercise and have fun. And if you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19, getting in the game is now safer than ever.
But what if you’re not fully vaccinated yet or your young athlete isn’t eligible for the vaccines? In that case, continuing to take COVID-19 precautions is crucial. Playing a team sport can increase the chances of getting or spreading the virus, especially if there is close contact or the game is indoors.
If you decide to play, be sure to follow the rules your sports league has in place to protect against COVID-19. For instance, some leagues may choose to modify how the game is played in order to limit contact between players. Also follow any local guidelines about masking and social distancing.
Bring your own personal gear, such as gloves, helmets, pads and water bottles. If you must share bats, balls or other sports equipment, wipe them down and wash your hands before and after sharing the gear.
Wear a mask as much as possible. For instance, mask up:
- When you’re on the sidelines, the bench or in the dugout.
- During practices or team meetings when you can’t keep your distance from others.
- When playing indoor sports.
Bring extra masks in case one gets damp, which can make it harder to breathe. Exceptions may be made for vigorous sports, hot days or if the mask poses a danger of being caught on equipment.
Stay 6 feet apart when possible. Spread out while you’re on the sidelines, on the bench or in the dugout. Try to keep your distance from other players, referees, coaches and spectators. Celebrate with a thumbs-up instead of high-fives, handshakes, fist bumps or hugs.
Remember to wash your hands. Use soap and water or hand sanitizer before and after practices and games. And have some hand sanitizer with you in case you need to use it during breaks.
Practice outdoors, if possible. It’s easier to be distanced, and the ventilation is better.
Work on individual skills in practices. For instance, players might work on dribbling, batting or kicking. This helps limit close contact.
Limit away games. Traveling poses a higher risk of spreading COVID-19 than staying in your community.
Don’t play or practice if you feel sick. Stay home and ask your doctor what to do if any of the following are true for you or your child:
- You have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath.
- You’ve had close contact with someone who was exposed to the virus.
- You’re waiting on test results.
- You’ve tested positive for COVID-19. Work with the health department. They may need to notify your team and other close contacts.
For more tips on staying safe from COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus health topic center.