Wrestling In The Time Of COVID-19 - The Complete Coach's Handbook
Not only will following these guidelines help to keep you and your athletes safe, it’ll keep you covered from a liability standpoint.
Of course, good coaches go beyond ticking boxes. Putting athlete welfare at the forefront of your season doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice development. Successful wrestling in the time of COVID might be a bit of a balancing act. But when done correctly, you’ll inspire the type of buy-in from athletes (and their parents) that translates to an aggressive, technical, and committed program.
That being said, here are 7 key steps you can take today – pulled straight from “Wrestling In The Time Of COVID-19 – The Complete Coach’s Handbook” – to get started down the right path.
#1 - Symptoms Check
Print out and post common symptoms of COVID-19 in prominent areas – at your desk, in the locker room, on the outside door, on the practice room door, etc. That way, your athletes (and you) are constantly reminded to self-assess for anything that feels off.
Of course, people still get forgetful. To assure all your bases are covered, set-up a check-in station where your wrestlers have to sign-in and speak with you before they can practice.
#2 - Temperature Check
In that same vein, investing in a forehead thermometer gives you a more objective look at symptoms. Again, if you set up a check-in area, you can get immediate, real-time information to catch symptomatic athletes.
Certain apps (like those found in your Coaches COVID Handbook) will let you upload a questionnaire and save the responses. Not only can this expedite the process, but you’ll have an easy-to-access record in case you need it.
Obviously, anyone currently experiencing symptoms should be advised to not enter the practice facility.
#3 - Prioritize Hand Sanitization
At this point, there’s almost no excuse to not have hand sanitizer lying around. If your school district is back to in-person education, it’s probably already on hand. However, as a coach you’re responsible for your athletes specifically, so invest in a few extra jugs.
Require sanitization at check-in before practice starts, have hand sanitizer available for breaks during practice, and keep it in the locker room as well.
Oh – and be sure to encourage your wrestlers to actually wash their hands with soap and water, too.
#4 - Manage Traffic Flow
If possible, designate a separate entrance and exit to limit bottlenecks or congregation before/after practice. (Since they’re kids who naturally want to socialize, this will probably take some reinforcing).
Another tactic is to break your team into subgroups based on weight class, experience, etc. By consistently keeping the same people together, you can isolate the spread and prevent a worst-case scenario from happening.
#5 - Practice Room Layout
Regardless of practice room size, divide the room into individual squares at least 6 feet apart. Unfortunately, that means those with smaller rooms will probably have to get creative – but it beats putting your entire program at risk.
Again, this goes back to the “limit the spread as much as possible” philosophy. If you’ve got two partners that only train with each other, yet they’re live wrestling 3 feet next to another group… what happens if one of them tests positive?
Stick to the six-feet rule throughout – from the moment they enter the room to stretch on their own to when they head to the locker room (which, as you’ll soon see, is a process all in itself).
#6 - Sanitation Measures
Mat cleaner? Check.
Sanitizing spray and wipes? Check.
Did your athletes shower this morning? Hopefully check. (If not, we’ve got a plan for that in #7)
But in all seriousness, be extra vigilant about spraying things down before and after use, even if that means keeping everyone out of the practice room for an extra 10 minutes. Use the guidelines in the Handbook to customize your sanitation procedure.
#7 - Shower Process
Although it’s listed way down at the bottom – don’t underestimate the importance of establishing a shower protocol.
A quick solution to athletes cramming inside a small, enclosed locker room? Stagger their post-practice exits. If you’ve already broken them up into sub-groups, this should be easy. It helps to let them know when they’ll head to the showers before practice, as well as posting it up on a board so they can check it afterwards.
But those steps are just the beginning. To learn more about:
- How to explain your action plan to concerned parents
- What to do in the event of a positive test
- How to handle issues like a small wrestling room (and lots of wrestlers)
- Safely conducting your end-of-the-season banquet
…and more… click the button below to download your FREE handbook for coaching in the time of COVID-19.