Return To Play (RTP) Protocol: PHASE 3



Environmental Context.  Training grounds and facilities are open, local limits on the size of group gatherings have increased, but social distancing requirements remain in place. This phase should last at least 2 weeks, even if local guidelines would allow for progression to Phase 4. While many of the recommendations listed in phases 2 and 3 are identical, this progression is deliberately intended to provide a timeline that can promote fitness development, reduce the risk of injuries, and accommodate a resurgence of COVID-19 cases within the local community.

  • Prior to attending any training event, each player and coach should check his or her temperature at home, and refrain from participation if he or she has a fever (>= 100.4 degrees F).

  • Prior to participation, staff should obtain verbal confirmation from each participating player that:

    • The player has not had any no close contact with a sick individual or anyone with a confirmed case of COVID-19 (see Appendix C).

    • The player has not had a documented case of COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

    • The player is not currently demonstrating or suffering from any ill symptoms (see Appendix A).

  • Any player reporting or demonstrating symptoms of illness at any point should be removed from training (or prohibited from training) and should seek guidance from his or her physician before attempting to return to training.

  • Clubs may increase the size of individual training groups within applicable local restrictions regarding group gatherings, but groups should be no larger than a single coach with a full team. Players should again remain within the same group throughout Phase 3.

  • The total number of individuals present should still be restricted based on applicable local guidelines regarding group gatherings.

  • Players should avoid all physical contact with each other, including celebrations, handshakes, high-fives, etc.

  • All coaches and players must maintain a social distance of at least 10 feet to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

  • Each group should be given a designated time to arrive and depart the training grounds or facility.  Players and coaches should remain in the same groups during Phase 3.

  • More than one group may train simultaneously (within local restrictions regarding group gathering size), but each group should train in a designated area, at least 10 feet from other groups, and even further if possible.  The total number of attendees (including participants, coaches and facilitators) are limited to 40 persons per half of field.

  • Individuals should maintain social distancing guidelines during arrival and departure from training, and efforts should be made to stagger arrival and departure times to minimize potential interaction with other groups.  This should include designating separate arrival drop-off and departure pick-up zones.

  • Other individuals in attendance (family members, for example) must stay away from the field and maintain at least 10 feet between other individuals in attendance.  Ideally, attendees will remain in cars to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

  • In the event of an injury, staff may assess and facilitate management of the injured individual in accordance with proper first aid management. Family members may participate in injury management as necessary but other players should maintain proper social distance.


  • Training areas must be separated and specifically designated such that groups will not touch the same surfaces (benches, for example).

  • Players should bring their own equipment (ball, hand sanitizer, water bottle, training vest(s), towels, etc.) such that no equipment is shared between players.  Players and coaches may contact another individual’s soccer ball with their feet but should not contact it with their hands.

  • Surfaces that may be contacted and shared by players (benches, balls, for example), should be disinfected before and after use.  Equipment used by staff (cones, for example) should not be handled by players or other attendees and should be disinfected after use.

  • Face mask use by players and coaches should be in accordance with local guidelines.


  • Each coach and player should have their own hand sanitizer. Players and coaches should disinfect their hands prior to and immediately after every group session and after any contact with a shared surface.

  • All surfaces that players/staff may contact when entering and leaving the facility (gates, doorknobs, etc.) should be disinfected between sessions and after the final session of the day.  When possible, gates/doors should remain open to reduce contact with potentially contaminated surfaces.

  • NO use of port-a-johns.


  • Within this phase, the team may do individual exercises (one player one ball), group exercises (passing progressions with a partner or within the group), fitness exercises, or team tactical exercises.  For example, a coach may train a group of 18 players while still maintaining proper social distancing.

  • Players should not touch the ball with their hands.

  • Players should not head the ball.

  • Within this phase, goalkeepers should not use their hands, and should train as field players.