COVID-19 Action Plan

Published on April 2nd, 2020

Due to the spread of COVID-19, access to sport at all levels has decreased. Events have been cancelled or postponed, programs put on hold and competitive seasons cut short.

The Women’s Sports Foundation is actively working to support our community during these unprecedented times. Below, please find tips for staying physically and mentally fit, inspiration from our athletes and experts and a multitude of other ways we are continuing to help our community #KeepPlaying.

Please feel free to share these ideas with family, friends and colleagues – we strive to be a helpful resource for all. And if you do partake in these ideas, take a picture and tag us – we’d love to see you in action.

We will continue to update this page throughout the pandemic, so please check back frequently!

‘Playing it Safe’ Recommendations as Sport Returns:

Across the country, we are all taking measures to contain the spread of COVID-19. With organized sports programs on pause, the Women’s Sports Foundation is here to support our community partners by offering resources and content to ensure that physically and mentally healthy lifestyles prevail.

We are all in this together.

We support the safety guidelines put forth by the CDC, and are also optimistic for the day team sports and organized play, resumes. A new phase seems to be unfolding, as states start to inch their way back to being ‘open’. What that ultimately will entail and when it happens, can differ from state to state and, in some cases, from county to county. However, there is something universal we all can do right now: prepare.

Now is the perfect time to think about the sports your child plays or the sport you coach or organize, where that happens, and what to consider as you anticipate returning to play. To help you, here are a few suggestions:

  • Our friends at the Aspen Institute have put together a guide that assesses the social distance feasibility and exposure risk level of various sports and recreation activities. You can check that out here.
  • Due to their ability to be played while maintaining social distancing policies, tennis and golf appear to be rising to the top of the list for most-likely to resume first. Our friends at the USTA have put together a comprehensive guidelines document; though specific to tennis, a good portion of the considerations, such as maintaining the Federal Government’s guidelines for social distancing, postponing social gatherings and cleaning all surfaces thoroughly among others, can be applied to other sports/activities. You can check it out here. Additionally, Project Play Western NY has been compiling resources for youth sports organizations and families as sports and group activities begin to return.

Ensuring a sanitary and safe play space is paramount. We recommend parents, coaches and community program leaders, consider the following:

  • Highlight successes as programs return to play; stay positive and optimistic
  • Parents – consider acquiring sports gloves for your child to wear while playing, and encourage her not to share her personal equipment with teammates
  • Coaches – prepare a list of the new procedures and instructions, and send to girls/parents prior to play
  • Program leaders – reach out to the facilities, parks, courts, fields where you play and ask for a list and times of sports on the schedule to resume; look to ensure your girl-serving program is given fair and equal consideration compared to boy-serving programs. Women and Sport Canada put together recommendations for ensuring equity is at the forefront when sports return.
  • Have hand sanitizer available for the children/team/coaches; have on the sidelines at all times
  • Consider your physical practice drills and game set up, and what you may need to move around to create more space between players
  • Consider keeping training groups small and spaced out. Examples of this include keeping one swimmer per lane, practicing with smaller groups of soccer players or playing on every other tennis court to keep appropriate distance
  • Make sure athletes are sitting on the bench at an appropriate social distance
  • Keep all communal equipment (e.g., bats, basketballs, etc.) clean and sanitized, and encourage the athletes to do the same for their personal equipment (e.g., mitts, rackets, etc.)
  • Build in time to train coaches and program leaders on new protocols, and for players to adapt to new behaviors
  • Designate a staff person to manage all COVID-19 concerns

As we know, many aspects of our country’s COVID-19 pandemic response continue to evolve and unfold. We encourage all to follow the CDC and state government guidelines. And check back to this page for more suggestions and recommendations as we move forward, getting closer to the day we can all come together again to #KeepPlaying.

Relive #WeKeepPlaying:

On April 11, we partnered with Yahoo Sports to bring together the most iconic names in women’s sports for a conversation designed to inspire in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. Billie Jean King, Sabrina Ionescu, Carli Lloyd, Scout Bassett, Kendall Coyne Schofield, Chiney Ogwumike and Katie Sowers joined host Cari Champion and special guest Condoleezza Rice.

Rewatch the event here:

Staying physically active and remaining involved in women’s sports:

Challenging times call on us all to stay mentally and physically healthy. Research has shown that exercise and physical activity can help boost our sense of well-being and control, confidence and ease potential anxiety during changing times. Here are some tips to help you stay fit:

Train virtually: Can’t get outside, to the gym or to your local girls’ sports program? Adults and kids can work out at home by finding an online training program! OR get some inspiration from some of our WSF Athlete Ambassadors, who have been staying active at home, including our Founder Billie Jean King and Past Presidents Jessica Mendoza and Elana Meyers Taylor.


Improve your state of mind: Meditation, yoga and reflection are all great ways for kids and adults to reduce stress and anxiety.

Gain some knowledge: The Women’s Sports Foundation has published many research reports that explore the benefits of sports and physical activity for girls and women. Click here to learn something new.

Stay connected: Don’t forget to check in on your friends, family and teammates. Utilize the phone, video chatting and other methods of communication to stay in touch with your entire community.

Nutrition and sleep are key: Be sure to stay hydrated, eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep — all of these will aid in mental and physical well-being. 

Educate your parents: For community program leaders who may have had programming put on hold, make sure to communicate with your girls’ parents or caregivers on the many ways they can keep their girls active and healthy. 

Stay inspired: See the impact that sports can have and why it is important to #KeepPlaying no matter what! Additionally, our national partners NBC Sports Group and espnW have been publishing content that is sure to inspire.

Inspiration from our #WSFAmbassador athletes:

Each week, we will be hosting a top female athlete on our “Ask an Athlete Ambassador” series on Instagram Live, where they answer questions from our community programs and the audience.

Check out past sessions of “Ask an Athlete Ambassador”:

Heather O’Reilly, 3x Olympic gold medalist, FIFA World Cup Champion, soccer

Natasha Hastings, 2x Olympic gold medalist, track & field

Grete Eliassen, WSF Past President, 6x Winter X Games medalist, freeskiing

Sophia Herzog, Paralympic silver medalist, swimming

Kendall Coyne Schofield, 2x Olympic medalist, ice hockey

Toni Breidinger, Professional autoracer

Tamika Catchings, 4x Olympic gold medalist, Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductee, basketball 

WSF Past President Julie Foudy providing laughs, and other must-listen podcasts:

We have put together recommendations for podcasts to listen to while practicing social distancing. This list will continue to grow throughout the coming weeks, so continue to check back:

Laughter Permitted Podcast with Julie Foudy and Billie Jean King
“Laughter Permitted with Julie Foudy”: The WSF Past President released a special episode of her hit espnW podcast in order to provide humor and thoughtful leadership tips during this trying time. Listen here, and be sure to also check out her episode with WSF Founder Billie Jean King, recorded at our Athlete Leadership Connection last October.

“Challenge Extended”: Our President, 5x Paralympian Alana Nichols, was recently featured on this powerful podcast from Disabled Sports USA. In the episode, she discusses her role as WSF President and her current endeavors in para-surfing.

Hear Her Sports: Be sure to check out this episode of Hear Her Sports, featuring our Chief Strategy and Impact Officer Olga Harvey!

Instagram Live: While not technically a podcast, many athletes, leagues and media outlets have begun hosting Instagram Live sessions to connect to their audiences. Be sure to explore Instagram to find them — some of our favorites include LaChina Robinson, Megan Rapinoe and the WNBA!


The WSF Community Helpline:

We set up a helpline for our grant recipients — community partners and athletes — to reach us with any urgent questions or concerns.  The number is 1-800-227-3988, option 0.

We want to hear from you and learn how WSF can best support you during these unprecedented times.