us lacrosse update on protective masks, shields

SPARKS, MARYLAND (Feb. 2, 2021) - In response to recent questions about the use or requirement of mask wearing in lacrosse, US Lacrosse is reiterating its Return to Play guidance, as established by medical advisors, on this issue.

US Lacrosse’s guideline does not mandate the wearing of protective (fabric or medical) masks or helmet shields while playing lacrosse, although it does allow for either or both to be worn at the discretion of the athlete or local region requirements. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) COVID-19 Interim Guidance: Return to Sports supports US Lacrosse’s position on protective masks in sport. Currently, the CDC advises that youth athletes in all sports wear masks, if feasible, when it is difficult to stay more than six feet apart from other people. 

In lacrosse athletes, masks may be difficult to keep on under a helmet and while wearing mouthguards; masks may also be prone to slipping down the face while running or clinging due to perspiration. It is not known if wearing masks improperly vs. no masks while playing sports substantially changes transmissibility. 

US Lacrosse’s RTP guidance offers recommendations for risk mitigation and is not meant to represent a set of local laws or playing rules. If local communities, schools, programs, or states have mandated the use of masks to play youth sports, USL's guidance should not be used to supersede the guidance of the local authority or existing playing rules. If the only way to play lacrosse in a particular state, school or program is to wear a mask, then that requirement should be followed. 

At this time, there have not been any studies that have indicated that wearing a mask for a considerable period of time has any negative effects on health. It is clear how effective public health measures have been against the spread of COVID-19 (maintaining proper hygiene, physical distancing, and mask wearing). US Lacrosse will continue to monitor the guidance provided by the CDC on all matters related to risk mitigation of COVID-19.

Navigating how we allow youth to return safely to sport, both during outdoor and indoor play, remains a challenge and we will continue to look for ways to limit the risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission.

US Lacrosse strongly encourages mask usage for all lacrosse players, coaches, officials, and spectators when in the environment around the field and off the field, especially on the sidelines, when gathered in any group setting, and when traveling to and from games or practices with others.