As we begin to emerge from the understandable restrictions soccer has faced due to the Coronavirus pandemic, countries and territories around the globe are beginning to put in place measures for youth and adult soccer sessions to resume. However, most of us are faced with the challenge of minimising physical interaction between players, staff and spectators/parents, in line with a variety of restrictions imposed by local and regional authorities.
While the preventative measures off-pitch vary from place to place, including hand sanitisation stations; individual-use soccer balls, the banning of spectators/parents, face
masks, and carefully coordinated drop-off/pick-up schedules for youth players, the on-field constraints designed to get players back on the pitch and appropriately manage risk follow a similar pattern. These training constraints include;
Limited number of people for group training.
Most regions are seeing restricted numbers being allowed on the field, ranging anywhere from four players (Norway) to nine players (Australia) - plus coach. With successful decreases in Covid-19 cases in each country, player numbers will be gradually allowed to increase.
This rules out activities such as small sided games, 11v11 games, tackling, handling and heading the ball, with many sports authorities mandating a 1-2 metre minimum distance between players at all times. This also impacts on coach-player interactions with no handshakes and high fives or team huddles.
No sharing of equipment
With the notable exception of passing a ball with feet, players and coaches are reminded not to share equipment, such as bibs, and to arrive and leave in their kit. Ideally, players are encouraged to use their own soccer ball for training when and where possible, and coaches are expected to disinfect all equipment with wipes after use
With these new Return To Play restrictions in place, The Coaching Manual have developed and packaged a series of resources that coaches can deliver to their players to ensure they continue their soccer development while staying safe, and meeting the appropriate Covid-19 social distance measures.
The initiative, titled ‘Return To Play’ includes an example phased return strategy, a suggested ‘carousel’ training session, an exclusive webinar delivered by professional coaches, and information about supporting your players’ technical development.
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