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IHSAA releases winter sports COVID-19 protocols
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IHSAA releases winter sports COVID-19 protocols


With the fall sports playoffs currently in full swing, the winter sports season is approaching fast. On Tuesday, the IHSAA released the winter sports COVID-19 Return to Competition guidelines for the 2020-2021 season, as Iowa high schools get ready to host basketball, wrestling, bowling, and swimming competitions. 

First practice dates for swimming and bowling is Nov. 9, and Nov. 16 for basketball and wrestling. 


Event considerations

Pregame Protocol

- Limit attendees to the referee and head coach from each team, with all individuals maintaining a six-foot distance or greater. 

- Suspend pre-game handshakes and fist bumps. 

Team benches

- To maintain social distancing, teams should limit personnel on the bench 

- Place benches opposite team seating

- Allow additional chairs or rows so bench personnel can observe social distancing of six feet or greater. 

- Limit contact between players when substituting. 

- Personnel not playing in the game should adhere to local face covering requirements. 

Pregame and Postgame

- The five starters on each team will be introduced first, and move to the free throw area until are starters are introduced. 

- No pregame handshakes or fist bumps. 


- The host team is responsible for sanitizing the game ball, and game balls will be placed at the score table for officials. 

- The host team will provide and sanitize warm-ups balls for both teams. 

- The host team should make sure that the game ball is sanitized during time-outs and between quarters. 

- The home team will provide santizer at the scorers table, and all players must sanitize hands before and after warm-ups, at all timeouts, quarter and halftime breaks, and anytime they leave the playing court. Coaches are strongly encouraged to sanitize hands as often as possible. 

- Cloth face covering are permissible for players. 

- Teams should strongly requiring players and coaches to wear face masks while on the bench. 


- Consider conducting workouts in pods of same students always training together, to ensure more limited exposure in case of infection. 

- Keep accurate records of athletes and staff who attend each practice, in case contact tracing is needed. 


Consider making each student responsible for bringing their own water bottle, hand sanitizer, face covering, and towel. 

- Towels and clothing should be washed and cleaned after every workout immediately upon returning home. 

- Player braces and equipment should be cleaned after each use. 

- Tell coaches when not feeling well

- Cloth face covering are allowed

Parents, Workers, Volunteers

- Use of face masks and social distancing is strongly encouraged. 



- Consider assigning workout pods of four to five athletes to workout with daily, to help with contact tracing. 

- Consider taking breaks prior to any 15-minute period in order to sanitize, handwash and social distance. 

- Consider multiple practices to break team into smaller groups. 

- Consider practicing every other day

- Mandatory cleaning of mats and surfaces before and after every practice. 

- Monitor and securely document daily symptoms and temperatures. 

- No shared towels, practice gear or headgear. 

- Athletes should provide their own water bottles

- Wash practice clothing every day. 

Dual Meets

- Consider single or double duals only (three teams or less)

- Cleaning of mats before the start of each dual met and at conclusion of night is required. 

- Consider conducting weigh-ins by team

- Spread out athlete seating and designate bleacher space to help with social distancing. 

- Verify that athletes are not showing symptoms. If they do, do not allow them to travel or compete. 

- No team handshakes after meets. 


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- Consider reducing number of teams, and placing out of state restrictions

- Out of state traveling parties should be reduced to essential personnel (wrestlers, coaches, medical personnel.)


- Social distancing encouraged

- Schools may require that spectators wear masks


- Masks are mandatory

- Smaller squad sizes, limited participation at each match

- Attend duals, but not tournaments. 

- Consider placing a separate cheer mat away from regular mat

- If spectator attendance is limited, do not have cheerleaders attend

- Consider travel for cheerleaders being separate

- Consider not having cheerleading for wrestling this season. 


- Consider percentage of capacity allowance for spectators

- Prepare gym for social distancing


-Teams should follow COVID regulations at bowling venues. 

- Masks strongly encouraged for spectators, coaches, and participants

- Masks may be removed when ready to bowl

- No sharing of bowling balls

- Handshakes/high fives strongly discouraged

- Venues will determine seating capacity

- Separate varsity/JV competitions 

Suggested Formats

- One team of six bowlers on two lanes for both rounds

- No moving to other lanes. 


Pre-meet and practice

- Disinfect pool area before and after practice

- Leave facility as soon as possible after practice

- Equipment is not to be shared

Rule Considerations

- Athlete should arrive at venue already in competitive attire, or schools will provide alternative accommodations to allow for social distancing

- Only one person is permitted at turning end for lap counting. 

-Pre-Meet Conference: Reduce number of participants

- Notification of Disqualification: Notification shall occur from a distance via use of hand signals or PA system. 

Meet Officials: Develop alternative methods for submitting entries and movement of non-electronic information. Require a distance of 6 feet between individuals seated at the desk/table. Masks for officials are allowed/encouraged.

Timers: Timers must assemble at the finish of each race, at the edge of the pool within the six to eight foot confines of the lane which they are timing. 

Relay Takeoff Judges and Relays: Require all takeoff judging from the sides of the pool. Space relay swimmers apart from one another. Timers and relay takeoff judges are strongly encouraged to wear cloth facial coverings.

Guidelines and considerations

- Warm-up area: Establish multiple sessions for warm up periods, to limit number of swimmers per lane. Restrict amount of swimmers in competition area, and during warm up and warm down periods. 

-Seating and lane placement: Keep teams on opposite sides of pool, home teams to compete in lanes 1-3 and visiting teams in lanes 4-6. 

- Post race- Swimmer finishing that finish their individual race along with relay anchors that finish in the water should swim to the opposite end of the starting blocks and exit to limit contact with timers.

- No handshakes between teams


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 Gatherings at Meets: Social distancing from other teams as much as possible is strongly recommended.


- Athletes should provide own water bottle, hand sanitizer, face mask, and towel. 

- Cloth face coverings are permitted. 


- Use of face coverings and social distancing is strongly encouraged. 

Shane Lantz covers sports for the Globe Gazette. You can reach him at, or by phone at 641-421-0526. Follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneMLantz. 


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