Safety Tips for Athletic Activities and Sports (COVID-19)

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Staying active is important to protecting our health and well-being. At the same time, different types of recreational activities and sports have different levels of risk for spreading COVID-19. The following information provides tips for staying safe on and off the field.

Recreational Activities

Recreational activities include individual sports and small group activities like running, walking, biking, swimming, golf, tennis and more. When participating in these activities you should:

  • Keep at least 6 feet of space between you and others.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Wear a mask or cloth face covering in places where keeping space between people may be difficult.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before beginning and after you are done.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Youth Sports

As youth sports activities begin, it’s important for youth sports organizations, coaches and parents to deploy safety measures to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread during practice and competition. This includes keeping in mind – Time, Space, People and Places.

  • Time: Give yourself time to prepare for starting back up your youth sports activities. Have a plan and systems in place to protect the health and safety of your players, coaches and others.  
  • Space: Make safe physical distancing a part of every aspect of your planning, practices and competitions.
  • People: Make sure that your coaches, athletes and parents know what to do to stay safe. Remember, the more people that you interact with, the greater your chances of contracting and possibly transmitting the virus.
  • Places: Know where you will be practicing and competing and take additional precautions as needed.

When considering the level of risk, know that the risk of COVID-19 spread increases in youth sports settings as follows:

  • Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family members that you live with.
  • Increasing Risk: Team-based practice divided into small groups (e.g. offensive or defensive players practicing separately).
  • More Risk: Within-team competition.
  • Even More Risk: Full competition between teams from the same local geographic area.
  • Highest Risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas.
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Youth sports organizations may consider implementing several strategies to encourage behaviors to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These include the following:

  • Encourage coaches, players and parents to stay at home when sick.
  • Teach and reinforce:
    • the use of cloth face coverings,
    • handwashing, and
    • social distancing, including during player drop off and pick up.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid sharing individual water bottles, community snacks or towels.
  • Don’t allow spitting and encourage everyone to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of their elbow.
  • Encourage use of dedicated personal equipment.
  • Practice in pods or cohorts of a limited number of players to limit the risk of disease transmission.
  • Ensure policies are considerate of staff, volunteers and participants at highest risk of complications from COVID-19.
  • Prohibit friends and family from attending practices to avoid crowding.
  • Strongly encourage family and friends to stay at least six feet apart from people outside their household when attending competitions.
  • Post signs that encourage everyday public health safety measures to help stop the spread of germs. Materials are available at DHEC’s website, here.

Guidelines for Spectator Sports

NOTE: This guidance is NOT intended for collegiate or professional sporting venues. Guidance from the NCAA, conferences and professional sporting associations should be adhered to in those venues.

Where food is served, the restaurant guidelines published on should be followed.  If there are specific guidance documents that apply to the sport, for example the pool guidelines apply to swimming, the recommendations in the more specific document also apply.

Tickets: When tickets are required, the best practice is paperless transactions. If purchase on site is available, social distancing should be followed while in line and hand sanitizer should be provided at the ticket booth for both patrons and employees to use.

Mass Gatherings: Refer to the Mass Gathering guidelines on for information to consider when planning any event, including sports that involve spectators.

Youth Sports: Refer to the Guidelines for Re-opening County, Municipal and School Athletic Fields and Resuming Youth Sporting Events on for information about spectators of youth sports leagues. High School sports should follow the guidelines published by the SC High School League.

For Both Indoor and Outdoor Venues:

  • If seats are available, every other one should be left empty; if bleachers are present 6 feet at a minimum should be left in between spectators who are not from the same household.
  • Spectators should wear face coverings.
  • Substitute players or players who are off the field or court of play should adhere to 6 ft physical distancing guidelines AND should be wearing face coverings.
  • A plan should exist for handling coaches, players or spectators who experience symptoms at the venue.
  • Restrooms should be cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day/event.
  • Hand sanitizer stations should be made available throughout the venue for patrons and participants.

Indoor Venues

  • Occupancy should be limited to 50% of the occupancy level assigned by the Fire Marshal.
  • Where feasible, there should be one direction of foot traffic flow marked and enforced.
  • Ventilation systems should be set to the maximum air changes per hour and highest percent of outdoor air as possible and should not be shut off after hours.

Outdoor Venues

  • Where feasible, there should be one direction of foot traffic flow marked and enforced.
  • Six feet of space should be left between spectators who are not from the same household.
  • Evaluate plans for seeking shelter in the event of inclement weather. To accomplish physical distancing, it may be necessary to designate additional sheltering locations.

Additional Guidance



COVID-19 Statewide