Strathmore High School football goes through a drill, August 7, 2019. Teams around the area await more information from the CIF about the upcoming fall season. 

It's BYOWB -- bring your own water bottle -- when sports return. 

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced last Friday a decision on fall sports would come by July 20. In the meantime they provided everyone with a 10-page Return to Physical Activity/Training Guidelines (RTP) document for how teams should begin transitioning to start their seasons.

The RTP comes after the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) put together their own guidelines on May 19. The two sets of guidelines are similar except the CIF is allowing students to use a 30-day, Pre-participation Physical Examination waiver due to COVID-19 delaying doctor appointments for physicals. 

The RTP has two phases for "(allowing) for a directed approach to "transition" the athlete back to full activity levels in a supervised and progressive fashion."

Phase One of general activity is for individual skill development and workouts with social distancing, no contact with others, no sharing of equipment and no grouping. Phase Two starts modified team practices but doesn’t allow contact with other teams.

“If social distancing is feasible and modifications are made, the sports listed immediately below may resume with Phase One and Phase Two activities pending local county guidelines,” the RTP states. The listed sports are cross country, track and field, swimming, golf, tennis and badminton.

If social distancing requirements remain in effect, conditioning and individual drills, for example for the fall sports of volleyball, football and water polo; will be affected. For all three sports, players cannot share a single ball that will be touched by multiple people. In football there is no contact with other players, no sharing of tackling dummies or sleds, and no protective equipment. For water polo, players can shoot but shouldn’t pass a single ball among multiple players.

Along with the expected request of washing hands for at least 20 seconds, constant sterilization and keeping groups to five to 10 people; the RTP also provides guidance on hydration, food, travel, face coverings and whistles. 

On hydration, the RTP states that athletes should bring their own water bottles and they are not to share them. All water fountains and hydration stations should only be used to refill personal water bottles. Also there’s no sharing of food between athletes.

Teams are to also stay local and avoid traveling throughout the state “especially if counties are in different phases”.

For face coverings, teams are to follow their local and school district guidelines. Any athlete who wants to wear a cloth face covering should be allowed too. Coaches, officials and others should also wear face coverings at all times and especially when social distancing isn’t possible.

“Artificial noisemakers such as an air horn, electronic whistle, or a timer system with an alarm can be used to signal in place of a traditional whistle,” the RTP also states.

The release of these guidelines comes after some high schools and districts have already started practice or announced starting dates. For example in the Central Section, Clovis Unified School District started practice on June 8 and Hanford Joint Union High School District begins on July 1.  

In Friday’s press release, the CIF also noted that if public health and safety concerns make it necessary, they are prepared to provide alternative schedules if fall sports can not proceed as scheduled by July 20.

For more information and to read the CIF's press release in full, visit

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