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Masks & Sports: Should Youth Athletes Wear Face Coverings During COVID-19?

Kids and Masks: Why Cloth Face Coverings are Needed in Youth Sports During COVID-19 Kids and Masks: Why Cloth Face Coverings are Needed in Youth Sports During COVID-19

​​​​​​​​​​Part of being on a team is defending and protecting your teammates. One of the best ways that athletes can do that is to wear a mask or cloth face coverings for most sports to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

Here's a rundown on what you need to know about kids and masks during sports:

Athletes should wear a cloth face covering over the nose and mouth and practice physical distancing as much as possible, including:

  • During group training and competition.

  • On the sideline bench or in dugouts.

  • Participating in team chats.

  • Going to and from the field, court, gym, locker room, pool, etc.

  • During shared transportation such as bus trips to and from events.

Cloth face coverings are particularly important when:

  • It is not possible to stay at least 6 feet apart.

  • There is prolonged, close contact.

  • Practices and events are held indoors.

Face coverings can be removed when participating in:

  • Water sports such as swimming and diving since a wet face covering may be more difficult to breathe through. For the same reason, face coverings that become soaked with sweat should be changed right away.

  • Sports in which coverings could become a choking hazard or injury risk by getting caught on equipment or accidentally covering eyes. Examples include gymnastics, cheer stunts and tumbling, and wrestling.

Make cloth face coverings a habit

Cloth face coverings have been found to be tolerated well by the majority of people who wear them for exercise,  but they feel different at first. Here are some ways you can help your kids get used to them:

  • Find a cloth face covering that your child can put on and take off themselves. Make sure it covers their nose and mouth and is comfortable for them to wear.

  • Have your child practice wearing it while doing drills or playing their sport before the season starts.

  • If the cloth face covering is removed for a break, the athlete should remain at least 6 feet away from all other individuals.

  • Have a special place to store the cloth face covering. For example, your child might keep it in the same spot in their sports bag when they are not wearing it.

Keep it clean

  • Just like you should sanitize sports equipment before and after each use, wash cloth face coverings daily in hot water.

  • Do not reuse cloth face coverings until they have been cleaned.

Set a good example

Coaches, officials, volunteers, and spectators should also protect themselves and others by always wearing cloth face coverings. By doing this, they are also setting a good example for young athletes.


Wearing cloth face coverings whenever possible and safe helps young athletes protect their teammates, themselves, and the sports season. Talk with your child's pediatrician if you have any questions about risks of being exposed to or spreading COVID-19. ​

More Information

This information was adapted from material developed jointly by the American Academy of Pediatrics and:


Last Updated
American Academy of Pediatrics (Copyright © 2020)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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