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IHSA Sport-Specific Considerations For Fall Sports

The IHSA recently released sport-specific guidelines for their four fall sports this year, which are Cross Country, Girls Tennis, Swimming, and Golf. These guidelines are to help limit the risk of COVID-19 spreading.

Many of the guidelines are similar for the fall sports. One example is gatherings are currently limited to a maximum of 50 people, including players, coaches, and all others. Social distancing is also supposed to be kept when possible, including while being transported to competitions.

Award ceremonies are not to be held for any sports, while concession stands are allowed using IDPH guidelines. Teams are also recommended to use locker rooms as little as possible.

Below are a small portion of the guidelines provided for each sport. The complete guidelines for the sports are available online at

Cross Country

It is recommended to keep Saturday, October 24 as an open date on your schedules for the purpose of a potential date for some form of State Series event.

If single race start is possible for a race, participants must be lined up in a way that allows for social distancing (6 feet apart)

If a race cannot maintain social distancing in a single start, hosts may need to use staggered, wave or interval starts to ensure that social distancing requirements can be met at the starting line

Girls Golf

It is recommended to keep the currently scheduled state series dates open on your schedules for the purpose of a potential State Series events

Players should wear masks whenever not actively playing (striking a ball).  All players should be masked while walking the course and not in actively play.   If an individual would like to wear a mask while actively playing, they may do so. There is no prohibition on the color of the mask.

Players licking fingers – If a golfer touches their mouth, practice is stopped and the player must sanitize their hands. Players should only touch and use their own golf ball and not touch other players golf ball or equipment. Players are encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer, but coaches must have sanitizer available at practices and competitions.

Player habits – Coaches should now work to create new habits including staying away from touching their face, not allowing sunflower seeds and not spitting. Do not touch the flagstick or bunker rakes, nor other player’s equipment or golf balls.

Flagstick – For the safety and well-being of all, the flagstick is not to be touched and is to remain in the hole at all times.  Rule 13.2 is modified as follows:  A player is prohibited from making a stroke with the flagstick removed from the hole.  (NOTE:  touching the flagstick inadvertently and the subsequent replacement of the flagstick is not of itself a penalty.  Should a player inadvertently touch the flagstick, the player should take appropriate precautions and use hand sanitizer.  If a player needs to re-center the flagstick, he/she may do so using a club.)

Hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes – Players are encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes. It is recommended to use hand sanitizer before and after each hole and when going out to, and coming in from, the course. Additionally, emphasize to all to avoid touching their face.


It is recommended to keep Saturday, October 24 as an open date on your schedules for the purpose of a potential date for some form of State Series event.

In order for the sport of swimming and diving to maintain an IDPH status of low risk, there cannot be relays at this time.

Given that relays are not currently permissible, there will be a modification to NFHS Rule 3-2-1.  Swimmers will be permitted to enter in a maximum of four (4) individual events.  Conferences can modify this to less than four (4) individual events if they choose for conference meets. However, four (4) events is the maximum number of individual events that a participant may compete in.

NOTE:  In the event that the IDPH allows for relays to be reinstated for this season or if conferences or hosts choose to use an “add up time” model in place of the traditional relay, then the original NFHS Rule 3-2-1 will apply as written (A competitor shall be permitted to enter a maximum of four (4) events, no more than two (2) of which may be individual events). If an IHSA State Series is conducted, relays will not be performed (even in alternate formats) unless the IDPH guidelines allow for traditional relays prior to the state series.   


It is recommended to keep Friday & Saturday, October 16 -17 and 2 -24 as open dates on your schedules for the purpose of a potential date for some form of State Series event (Regionals, Sectionals, etc.…).

Hosts should establish team areas that allow for teams to space at least 30 feet apart while maintaining social distancing within their own team’s area.

If possible, alternating courts should be reserved for play if there is no barrier, such as fencing, between the courts.

Match play – If possible, tennis players should each use a new can of balls for a match, different brands or same brand/different numbers and only serve with your tennis balls

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