Spring 2021: Return to Competition

Published: March 22, 2021


This document should be considered as providing recommendations from the IHSAA for member schools and may be updated before and during the spring 2021 season.

People (participants, coaches, officials, spectators, etc.) feeling sick or that have been exposed to someone sick, should not attend or participate in competitions or practices. The IHSAA and IGHSAU strongly encourages all participants and spectators to practice social distancing and wear face coverings whenever possible. Local policies may vary, including requiring face coverings for spectators.

We are fortunate to participate in a sport that naturally lends itself to physical distancing. A high school dual meet can be conducted in a way where teammates, opposing players, coaches and administrators will not meet the CDC criteria of a “close contact.” 

As you prepare to host or participate in tennis competition this spring the IGHSAU and IHSAA would like to stress the importance of running forms of competition where all players, coaches, and spectators are adhering to local public health authority protocols. This document should be considered as recommendations from IHSAA/IGHSAU for its member schools and should not supersede guidelines, mandates, requirements, and/or orders put into place by: 

  • Iowa Governor’s Office
  • Iowa Department of Public Health
  • Iowa Department of Education
  • Federal, local, or county government entities
  • Federal, local, or county health departments
  • Local School Districts
General Safe Play Protocols
  • Require masks/face coverings to be worn by all coaches, players, fans, and media while on site. The only exception would be the players while actively competing.
  • Social distancing of at least 6 feet should be maintained as much as possible. No hugging, shaking hands, high fives, or fist bumps for support/encouragement. It is recommended that all coaches and participants wear masks except during competition. 
  • In conjunction with the local public health authority, establish a policy regarding allowing spectators, fans, family members, media on side during the competition.
  • If teams require training services from the host team, coordinate specific needs prior to the match. Designate specific times for treatment ensuring no overlap.
  • During line up exchanges coaches must be wearing face coverings. To avoid physical exchange of scorebooks coaches should use cell phones or cameras to photograph lineups.
  • Teams are discouraged from conducting pre-match and post-match huddles and similar team cheers that violate social distancing norms.
  • When changing ends of the court players should use the opposite side of the court as their opponents.
  • Designate the home team to be the sole keeper of scorecards, preventing opponents from touching the same scorecards.
  • Upon completion of the match, replace player handshakes with racquet taps.
  • It has been determined that the surface of tennis balls are unlikely to harbor SARS-CoV-2 in a manner that is comparable with risk of developing COVID-19 from handling the ball during normal play but a place for the disposal of used balls should be provided.
  • The 4-ball format could be used where one player or team is only using their 2 tennis balls when serving and the opponent is using their 2 tennis balls when serving.
  • New tennis balls must be used for doubles play.
  • Avoid the use of community water coolers or shared ice bins on site.


Considerations for Coaches
  • Communicate your guidelines in a clear manner to students and parents.
  • Consider conducting workouts in “pods” of same students always training and rotating together in practice to ensure more limited exposure if someone develops an infection.
  • Keep accurate records of those athletes and staff who attend each practice in case contact tracing is needed.
  • Team Camp Considerations – Social distancing from other teams as much as possible is strongly recommended. Coaches should consider the number of individuals within the ‘team camp’ during a meet.  Limit the outside food brought in by teams/players.
  • On coaching breaks please observe social distancing from the opponent(s) at the fence or where the coach break takes place.
  • Limit the outside food brought in by teams/spectators.


Considerations for Players:
  • Consider making each student responsible for their own supplies.
  • Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing (do not share clothing), and individual clothing/towels should be washed and cleaned after every workout immediately upon returning home.
  • Hand sanitizer should be plentiful at all meets and practices.
  • Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.
  • Cloth face coverings are permitted.
  • Bring your own labeled water bottle.
  • On coaching breaks please observe social distancing from the opponent(s)
  • On crossovers, players should be on opposite sides of the court, with the home team on the side where the scoring device is placed to change the score.
  • Do not shake hands at post-game replace with the racquet tap.
  • Follow social distancing for racquet spin for service order.


Considerations for Spectators/Parents
  • Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in practice and competition (if there is doubt stay home).
  • Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.
  • The use of cloth face coverings is strongly encouraged. In addition, social distancing is strongly encouraged as much as possible for non-participants, parents, coaches, officials, and other meet volunteers.
  • Limit the outside food brought in by teams/spectators.
  • Schools should implement spectator protocols by following CDC and local department of health guidelines regarding size of gatherings and social distancing.
  • Spectators should use 6-feet social distancing. Families may sit/stand together but should socially distance from others. Frequent reminders should be made throughout the meet.
  • Per IGHSAU/IHSAA, all spectators are strongly encouraged to wear masks.


Considerations for Administration
  • Facility Sanitization – Consideration should be given to which facilities are going to need sanitization, how often will sanitization be needed, who will be doing the sanitizing
  • Post-season – Potential options may be considered regarding the state qualifying meets and state meet depending upon the status of Covid-19. Further communication will occur as the season progresses.
  • Locker rooms may be utilized however the Dept of Public Health guidelines must be adhered to. (department of Public Health link)
  • Concession stands may be opened provided they have been inspected and licensed.
  • Limit the outside food brought in by teams/spectators.
  • The DOE Transportation guidelines should be followed when travelling as a team.
  • Administration should consider the number of teams participating in the event, the levels participating in the meet, and the number of participants participating in the meet.



It is the responsibility of the home team to provide proper administrative supervision (not the coach) at contests to assure compliance with the guidelines set forth by the Governor’s office, the Department of Education, the Department of Public Health, the Iowa High School Athletic Association, and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union.


Possible/Positive COVID-19 cases
  • The Iowa Department of Public Health has developed guidance for county health departments and schools regarding protocols when a student and/or student-athlete reports COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test result or contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 test result.
  • Each school should identify a point of contact for athletes, coaches, and other personnel to report to when he/she experiences COVID-19 symptoms, a positive COVID-19 test result or contact with a person with a positive COVID-19 test result. This identified person will be responsible to report such situations to local public health.
  • Each school should develop a communication plan to notify relevant persons (players, coaches, spectators) when contact-tracing indicates the need to.