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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 face mask 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 face mask 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.

Face masks 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.

Masks can be removed when participating in:

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

  • Certain sports and activities in which face masks could pose a safety risk. Examples include gymnastics, cheer stunts and tumbling, and wrestling. In these sports, there is a chance face masks could get caught on equipment and create a choking hazard, or accidentally cover eyes and block vision.

  • Some outdoor sports such as golf and singles tennis, as long as athletes are able to keep a safe physical distance.

Make face masks a habit

Here are some ways you can help your kids get used to wearing masks during sports:

  • Find a face mask that your child can put on and take off themselves. Make sure it covers their nose and mouth, fits snugly against the face with no gaps, 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 face mask 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 face mask. 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 resusable face masks 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 and correctly wearing face masks. By doing this, they are also setting a good example for young athletes.


Wearing face masks 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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