IHSA releases COVID-19 basketball considerations

Local Sports

WCIA — The IHSA has released their considerations and guidance for schools looking to host basketball games this Winter.

The organization says the guidelines are meant to decrease exposure of athletes to COVID-19. As circumstances of the pandemic change, these guidelines may change as well.

Modified Season:

  • On July 29, the IHSA Board of Directors modified the IHSA Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball seasons along with all other sport seasons in response to the circumstances surrounding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The modified boys and girls basketball season is as follows:
    • November 16 – Practice May Begin
    • November 30 – First Contest may be played
    • February 13 –    End of Season  
  • Note: Avoid scheduling regular season games after February 6th to leave the week of February 8-13 open for a post season event
  • If your school had difficulty meeting the 6 contest requirement as outlined in IHSA By-laws as a result of circumstances surrounding the pandemic, you may contact IHSA Executive Director, Craig Anderson (canderson@ihsa.org), to inquire about a waiver.
  • Currently, State Series events are “To Be Determined” to ensure that the events can be conducted safely and in accordance with the Governor’s Restore Illinois Guidelines.  The IHSA will make every effort to conduct some form of State Series event and will announce decisions made by the IHSA Board of Directors related to this as they become available.  That said, schools are encouraged to avoid scheduling regular season games after February 6th to leave the week of February 8-13 open for a post season event.
  • Currently, live competition must only occur with schools in your IDPH COVID-19 region and conference schools:  https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn:aaid:scds:US:37ae0de3-609b-4853-8622-b3b9c6d41781
  • Basketball Teams still must follow IHSA By-laws 5.040 and 5.190 Contest Limitations https://www.ihsa.org/documents/forms/current/IHSA_Section5.pdf

Requirements and Considerations

  • All guidelines of IHSA Return to Play Phase 4 must be adhered to. 

Social distancing between individuals, not on the court, of at least 6 feet must be maintained at all times.  Handshakes, fist bumps, hugging, etc. are not permissible at anytime.

Gym Capacity – Student participants, coaches, timers, paid/volunteer game officials, and media are considered a group of 50 people.

Spectators – Please see the Winter Sports Guidelines Cover page.

    • Managers should work with their local health departments to consider whether spectators will be allowed or not
    • If allowed, spectators must maintain social distance throughout the gym.
    • Spectators must wear masks.

Tournaments at one Host Site –

  • Multiple team events can be scheduled.
  • Time for cleaning and sanitation of all used spaces and equipment must occur between games. 
  • Participating teams must also exit a facility before participating teams in a following game can enter a facility.
  • All games must be played between schools from the same conference or COVID region.
  • Indoor gatherings may not exceed 50 individuals.  This total includes players, coaches, game officials, scorer’s table personnel, security/game management, cheerleaders, and fans.
    • There are no exceptions to this gathering size.
  • Team benches should be placed on the same side of the floor as the scorer’s table, if possible.  If fans are allowed to attend any game, they should be seated opposite the bench area at least 30’ from the playing floor.  If fans are allowed but, because of the layout of the facility, cannot be seated opposite the bench area, they shall be at least 30’ away from the bench area.
  • Team benches shall be spaced out to allow for appropriate distance between players and coaches (minimum of 6’ between individuals).  This may require benches to extend into the bleachers.  Benches may extend beyond the baseline if space allows.
  • Any basketball used as a part of warm-ups or game play must be cleaned and sanitized between uses. 
    • Game balls should not be used as a part of any warm-up. 
    • All balls should be cleaned and sanitized in a manner consistent with guidelines provided by the manufacturer.
  • All spaces and equipment (gym, chairs, scorer’s table, locker rooms, bleachers) must be cleaned and sanitized between games. 
    • Spaces should be cleaned and sanitized in a manner consistent with all local and national health guidelines.
  • All individuals must wear masks.

Competition:  Per IDPH guidelines, competition is limited to intra-conference or intra-EMS-region (See IDPH COVID EMS-Region Map link below in resources).   

Transportation – For transportation to and from extracurricular events, schools may adhere to the same guidance provided by ISBE regarding transporting students to and from school.    

Practices – Practices are solely intra-team.

Equipment and Accessories

  1. Basketball
      • Prior to a contest, it is recommended that two (2) game balls should be sanitized according to instructions from the ball manufacturer, set aside, and placed on top of the scorer’s table. The game balls must not be used for warm-ups.
      • The host school should switch balls during full time-outs and between quarters and sanitize the ball taken out of play.  If only one ball is available, the ball should be sanitized between quarters and during full time-outs.
      • Sanitizer should be provided by the host team at the scorer’s table.
      • Face coverings are required for all players, coaches, and team personnel.
  2. Officials Table (2-1-3)
    • The host should sanitize the table before the game and at half time.
    • Place officials table sufficiently away from the sideline (if possible, at least 6’) to allow for additional space for substitutes.
    • Limit seats at the table to essential personnel which includes home team scorer and timer with a recommend distance of 6 feet or greater between individuals. Only other personnel that can be distanced at least 6’ apart (visiting scorer, statisticians, media, etc.) should be allowed at the officials table.  However, these other personnel are not considered essential personnel, and an alternate location for them should be considered if spacing guidelines can’t be met at the official’s table. 
    • Table personnel are required to wear face covering requirements.
    • Game venues should have sanitation materials (disinfecting wipes, sprays, hand sanitizer, etc.) in prime locations for meet personnel to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and equipment

      3. Team Benches (1-13-1)

Social distancing should be practiced. Below are some considerations.

  • Consider limiting the number of bench personnel to observe social distancing of 6 feet or greater. 
  • If possible, place team benches opposite the spectator seating, if spectators are allowed.
  • Additional chairs or rows may be added to allow bench personnel to observe social distancing of 6 feet or greater between bench personnel (coaches and players).
  • Create separation between the team bench and spectator seating behind the bench. (if applicable)
  • Encourage substitutes to maintain social distancing from other substitutes after checking in with the official scorer.
  • Players not in game must wear a mask and MUST be separated by 6 feet in bench area.
  • During full time outs, players and coaches should maintain social distance.
  • During 30 second time outs, only those players in the game and coaches may stand and be involved in the huddle, maintaining appropriate social distance. (NOTE:  a manager distributing water bottles may also stand to fulfill his/her role.  He/she must maintain social distance during this time.

    4. During play

Due to players wearing masks during contests, a media time-out will be taken

each quarter at the first dead ball under the 5-minute mark to give players an

opportunity to catch their breath.

General Practice Requirements and Considerations for Coaches:

  • Communicate practice and all competition guidelines in a clear manner to student participants and their parents. 
  • For practices, consider conducting workouts in “pods” of same students who are always training and rotating together.  This will 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. 
  • Always have a plan to maintain social distancing amongst your team and coaching staff. 
  • Require athletes to arrive at the competition venue already in competitive attire.  If locker rooms must be used, ensure athletes can maintain social distancing.   
  • Educate your student athletes on proper hand washing and sanitation.
  • Coaches must wear masks/face coverings at all practices and competitions. 

Requirements and Consideration for Officials:

Pregame Protocol

  •  Limit attendees to the referee and the head coach from each team with each

coach standing on the center circle on each side of the division line.

  • All individuals maintain a social distance of 6 feet or greater at the center circle. 
  • Suspend handshakes prior to and following the Pregame Conference.
  • Officials must wear a face covering at all times. 
    • Long-sleeved shirts are permissible.
    • Officials should not wear jackets during pre-game court/player observation.
      • Traditional or electronic whistles may be used.  If a traditional whistle is used, officials should attach a plain black cover to the whistle to limit the spread of respiratory droplets.  If an electronic whistle is used, officials should use one whose tone will carry inside.
    • Gloves may be worn.

Other Considerations:


  • Officials shall stand 6 feet or greater away from player making the throw-in and bounce the ball to that player on any throw-in.

Free Throw Administration

  • The lead official shall stand on the end line and bounce the ball to the player making the try.

Jump Ball

  • Eliminate the jump ball and award the ball to the visiting team for the first possession of the game.  The alternating possession arrow will then be set after the initial throw-in.
  • To start an overtime period or for a game being played on a neutral site, use a coin toss to determine which team is awarded the ball to start the game (neutral site contest) or overtime.  For overtime contests, the referee shall have the head coaches come to the center circle and allow the visiting team coach to make the call on the flip.  On the flip, the referee shall indicate both sides of the coin before flipping, ask for the visiting team’s choice before flipping, and catch the coin in the air and open the palm of the hand which caught the coin to display which side is shown.  If the coach calling the flip is correct, his/her team shall begin the game/overtime period with the basketball.  If the coach calling the flip is incorrect, the opposing team will begin the game/overtime period with the ball.
  • The throw-in to begin a game or overtime period shall be made at the division line opposite the scorer’s table.

General Requirements and Considerations for Student Athletes:

  • Student athletes should be responsible for their own supplies such as a water bottle.
  • Students should wear their own appropriate workout clothing and not share clothing with anyone.  All equipment and clothing should be washed immediately upon returning home.   
  • Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer should be frequent at all contests and practices.
  • Athletes should tell coaches immediately when they are not feeling well.
  • Face coverings are always required.
    • Players should bring multiple masks to replace sweat soaked masks throughout games and practices.
    • Any mask modification requests, due to a documented medical condition, must come through an Accommodation Request through the IHSA School Center.

General Requirements and Considerations for Parents:

  • Make sure your child and immediate household members are free from illness before participating in practice and competition (if there is any doubt, stay home).
  • Provide personal items for your child and clearly label them.
  • Help make sure that your child is washing/cleaning clothing and personal items

after each use.   

  • Know facility/venue limitations on capacity/attendance prior to attending a meet.  Always maintain social distance and wear a face covering while in attendance at an event.


  • Follow ISBE Guidelines: For transportation to and from extracurricular events, schools may adhere to the same guidance provided by ISBE regarding transporting students to and from school.   

Eating and Drinking:

  • Ask athletes to bring their own water and have their own plan for retrieving their water after competition.  
  • Ensure 6-foot distance whenever student athletes are eating or drinking.
  • Replace face coverings immediately after eating or drinking.

To see the other winter sport considerations, click here.

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