In our last Return to Play update, we laid out guidelines for Washington Youth Soccer members based on the Governor’s Phased Approach Plan for reopening businesses and modifying physical distancing measures.

Importantly, the State is in Phase 1, allowing only some outdoor recreation (hunting, fishing, golf, boating, hiking), while several Counties have been approved to enter Phase 2. 

Under Phase 2 of the Governor’s Plan concerning Recreation guidelines, “all outdoor recreation involving fewer than five (5) people outside your household (camping, beaches, etc.)”  is allowed. However, Phase 2 Recreation guidelines do not include youth sports or other outdoor group sports and recreation activities at this time. Outdoor group sports and recreation activities for 5-50 participants will be allowed under Phase 3 of the Phased Approach Plan.

The ability to phase in certain sports and recreation activities is administered in accordance with the Phased Approach Plan. Whether County or local authorities permit access to their sports and recreation facilities, is a local decision and often requires additional components like liability insurance. Because outdoor group sports and recreation activities for 5-50 participants under the Phased Approach Plan are prohibited until Phase 3, it is unlikely that County or local authorities would permit access to their sports and recreation facilities at this time.

However, Washington Youth Soccer is working diligently with the Governor’s office and County and local authorities to accelerate our return to play. We are collaborating regularly with authorities to bring youth soccer back as quickly as possible, and we will continue to provide updates as soon as we have them.


Washington Youth Soccer’s #1 priority is to PLAY ON…SAFELY!

Players and their families health and safety come first; their physical and mental health are of utmost importance to us. Getting our kids outside, in fresh air and playing soccer safely is our goal. When our kids play, their body produces endorphins, which are a natural mood booster that can fight stress and depression. Feelings of empowerment, relaxation, and optimism follow. Play not only promotes healthy weight and cardiovascular fitness, but also enhances the efficacy of the immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems.

Check out US Youth Soccer’s latest return to play notice, which we consulted and worked from as we formulated the below protocols. 

Below is Washington Youth Soccer’s phased approach to returning to play, based on the official phased approach to reopening Washington State businesses and modifying physical/social distancing from Governor Jay Inslee. 


KNOW YOUR ROLE! KNOW THE PROTOCOLS. The following best practices are intended to offer guidance to our Washington Youth Soccer community. Adherence to these considerations and recommendations does not ensure immunity from exposure. Washington Youth Soccer makes no representations and assumes no responsibility for individual activity or participation decisions by Associations, Clubs, Coaches, Parents, or Players.

  1. Be smart: if you are sick, stay home. This applies to everyone: players, coaches, and parents. If you have been sick, stay home for 14 days after recovery.
  2. Screening: Greet all participants before practice and ask if they have been sick in the last 14 days or in direct contact with a person who is sick. Send home immediately if the answer is “yes.” 
  3. Sanitize: have hand sanitizer available and encourage hand washing before and after all activities. 
  4. Group play: all activities must be limited to the max number allowed in the current phase. 
  5. Physical play: facilitate soccer activities that eliminate physical contact. All drills and small-sided games should have as little physical contact as possible. Tackling, shielding, etc. should not be included in small-sided games or drills. 
  6. No high-fives, handshakes, or hugs: as much as we want to physically connect, this is not a safe practice for anybody right now. 
  7. Masks: coaches and spectators should wear a mask before, during, and after practice. Players should wear a mask when not actively practicing. 
  8. Drop-off/pick-up: if possible, parents should remain in car for drop-off and pick-up. All spectators must remain 6 feet apart. 
  9. Water bottles: to minimize accidental sharing of water, players must keep their water bottles in their own bag when not in use. 
  10. Have fun, stay positive: everyone is looking to each other to stay calm, supportive, and compassionate during this time. 
  • Distribute these protocols to your members.
  • Have an effective communication plan in place, identify strategies for working with public health to notify adult leaders, youth, and their families if the organization learns a participant or adult leader has developed COVID-19 and may have been infectious to others while at a youth activity, while maintaining confidentiality.
  • Small group sessions need to maintain the same group of players. This helps with contact tracing and limits exposure.
  • Have a written action plan in place, in case of a positive test. If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, the entire group must return to self-isolation until symptom-free for 14 days.
  • Distribute your written action plan to administrators, coaches, managers, and parents, electronically or otherwise.
  • In your action plan include both a communication chain for team personnel, including volunteers and managers, as well as triggers for executing the action plan.
  • Be prepared to shut down and stop operations. Develop plans for temporary closure of indoor facilities and cancel outdoor activities or camps to properly disinfect and ensure other adult leaders or youth are not infected.
  • Provide adequate field space for at least six feet of social distancing per player.
  • Develop a relationship and a dialogue with health local officials. (identify Risk Tolerance)
  • Ensure the health and safety of your players. Inquire how the athletes are feeling, send them home if they act or discuss feeling ill.
  • Follow all established federal, state, and local protocols.
  • Ensure all athletes have their individual equipment (ball, water bottles, bag, etc.) and prohibit them from sharing anything. Equipment placement should be spaced at least 6 feet apart.
  • The coach is the only person to handle cones, disks, etc.
  • All training must be outdoors and coaches must strictly enforce social distancing per the current phase guidelines.
  • Coaches must always wear a face mask per current phase protocol and social distance from players when required.
  • Wash and sanitize your own equipment after every session.
  • The use of scrimmage vests/pinnies is not recommended.
  • Increase your communication with parents, they need to know what you are doing as a coach and club to maintain their safety.
  • Have fun, stay positive – players and parents are looking to you to stay calm, supportive, and caring during this time.
  • Ensure athletes are healthy, check their temperature daily.
  • Limited or no carpooling.
  • Stay in car or social distance when at training, wear mask at all times if outside your car.
  • Ensure child’s clothing is washed after every training session.
  • Label your child’s equipment to guard against cross-contamination.
  • Ensure all equipment, cleats, ball, shin guards etc. are sanitized after every training.
  • Notify club immediately if your child becomes ill for any reason and do not bring them into contact with coaches or other players.
  • Do not assist coaches with equipment before or after training.
  • Be sure your child has necessary sanitizer and cleaning supplies with them at every training.
  • When traveling, take responsibility to sanitize hotel rooms.
  • Take temperature daily.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after training and any contact outside your home.
  • Bring and use hand sanitizer with you at every training session. Especially at the beginning and end of sessions.
  • Limited or no carpooling.
  • Wear mask before and after all training sessions. This protects others in the event that you are unknowingly carrying the virus.
  • Do not touch or share anyone else’s equipment.
  • Bring your own ball to training, label it as your own.
  • Practice social distancing and place bags and other equipment at least 6 feet apart from your teammates’ equipment during sessions.
  • Wash and sanitize all equipment before and after every training session.
  • No group celebrations with players closer than six feet, no high fives, hugs, cheers, etc.

Additional FAQs

Understanding that masks can inhibit a player’s ability to breathe during exercise, players will only be asked to wear masks to and from the field.

In the initial Phase 2 and 3 plans, we encourage non-contact activities, and instead focus on technical and tactical. For training sessions, clubs will be encouraged to have their players engage in non-contact activities until a full return to play is better known.

WYS will follow CDC guidelines and USYS directives regarding the transmission of the virus.

WYS will advise clubs on best practices.

Because kids can be carriers, and will interact with other at-risk individuals, they may pass the virus on to others unknowingly. Additionally, just as we Honor the Game in soccer, which means following the rules even when you can get away without following them, we choose to partner with our Governor and local officials and follow all mandates to insure the safety of all in our community.

Yes, but we ask that they wear masks and social distance, according to current phase of return to play. Phase 3 has a max of 50 people at events, as long as it’s under 50% capacity for the venue.

WYS recommends that parents monitor and check temperatures prior to sending children to practice.

Referees will follow the same protocol as players.

Coaches and sidelines observers will be asked to wear masks initially, but players will only need to wear them to and from the car and the field.

Players with symptoms should stay home to limit the spread. Players and coaches should still practice social distancing when they can, no high fives, handshakes, hugs, etc., and wash their hands/use hand sanitizer if they come in contact with another player/coach. If a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, the entire group must return to self-isolation until symptom free for 14 days.

We would promote the return of soccer via our platform. When we have a better idea on when we will return to play and at what capacities, we will support our members to make sure they get all the help they need.

All our policies will be shared on all members association websites, as well as the WYS website.

WYS simply sanctions tournaments but it’s up to individual organizations and teams to makes decisions on whether or not to hold or attend these tournaments. Organizers should be following the current state guidelines on outdoor gatherings when planning.

Players come first. Their physical and mental health are important to us. Being outside in the fresh air and with their team safely is our goal. We will also follow federal, state, and local guidelines.

WYS insurance covers injuries only, not infectious diseases or viruses. When a player participates, they are willingly accepting the potential risks that come along with that. Each club has the option to review and offer a “play at your own risk” waiver.