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EDP Return to Play: Creating Safe Playing Environments at EDP Tournaments

By Josh Blatt, 07/02/20, 11:30AM EDT


EDP Soccer is no stranger to safety. In managing dozens of the East Coast’s most competitive tournaments each year and one of the largest youth leagues in the nation, we see our fair share of injury reports and calls for medical support over our radios. But this is different.

In today’s ‘new normal’ it’s all about prevention and preparedness. EDP Soccer has been preparing for a return to play for months and we are taking some innovative approaches to deliver the same great value our customers are used to receiving with the added health and safety protocols they deserve.

Here is an inside look at what to expect when your teams arrive onsite and your players take the field.

Optimized Tournament Formats

To create healthy soccer environments our tournament operations team has held lengthy logistics discussions, developed mock schedules, and modeled brackets so they can strategically deliver competitive events and methods to maximize safety. EDP Soccer is optimizing formats, using new scheduling techniques, and laying out field formations in ways that enhance social distancing, reduce the number of people onsite at one time, and limit or eliminate cross traffic of participants moving around facilities.


Condensed Game Lengths

Instead of classic formats such as 3 longer games and a playoff, teams will be playing 2 slightly shorter games each day with 4 games played over 2 days. This concept delivers the same amount or more minutes than a typical tournament model and condenses it into shorter chunks to allow for an overall reduction of time onsite each day. For younger age groups, games may be broken into 3 periods to allow for more breaks and development and coaching opportunities.


Staggered Scheduling

Game flights will be used to reduce the amount of people onsite at any given time. This strategy enhances mitigation with staggered games schedules so teams can be grouped to arrive and leave at the same time. Games will follow a strict schedule so they start and stop on time.

Minimizing Team Movement at Facilities:  Home teams will stay in place and play both games each day in the same spot (final game on Sunday may differ). Away teams will move to the closest field to them for their next game. Home and away team status will be indicated on your schedule and signs on each side of the field will let you know which side is yours.

Reducing Team Time at Facilities: Teams will play using a compressed schedule that is not quite back-to-back games, but two adjacent games with a short break between them. By adjusting the start and stop times we will reduce the capacity and need for participants to stay onsite waiting extended periods for their next game. Removing this ‘down time’ will streamline traffic flow and dramatically scale down the amount of people at the facility.

Our expert schedulers will also provide extra attention to allow for more ‘day-tripping’ with later start times for teams that are traveling farther distances.

Here is an example of a staggered schedule and optimized format organized by age groups.

Click the image for a larger view or to download.


Enhanced Field Layouts

EDP Soccer is giving you more room with expanded space at its facilities. This is what social distancing is all about—All we ask in return is that you try to limit the number of parents, spectators, and supporters your team brings so your players can play in a safer environment. Sideline space will be limited to allow for proper social distancing, so it’s strongly recommended that one parent (or spectator) per player attend, if possible.

Increased Spacing with Field and Parking Pods: Fields and parking lots will be grouped into sections or pods to allow teams to park closer to the fields they are playing on. This tactic will eliminate cross traffic and create separate sections of gameplay. Additionally, it will reduce the amount of people movement by allowing teams to stay in a more confined space each day.

For example, at the upcoming EDP Memorial Day Classic tournament at Tuckahoe Turf Farms in Hammonton, NJ, fields and parking lots will be grouped into pods as follows:

Fields #30-35 – 8U-12U
Fields #1-4 – 13U-14U
Fields #5-12 – 15U-19U

Social Distancing with Field Layouts and Markings:  Our fields will be spaced at least 100 feet apart to allow wider aisles for walkways and foot traffic. To keep traffic flows unobstructed, EDP Soccer is requiring no tents, tarps, outside structures, or shelters that cover multiple people at all events.  Also, to reduce opportunities for contamination on shared surfaces, no team benches will be provided. EDP Soccer understands temperatures may be hot during summer and fall events, and we recommend personal protective measures for individuals such as single-person umbrellas, protective clothing, and sunscreen.

Teams will be placed on opposite sides of each field, and team parents and spectators will be on the same side as their players. Designated technical areas for coaches and players will be clearly marked and placed at the centerline. Parents and spectators will then be positioned on both sides of the same sideline. These layout updates will help to keep families together while limiting the need for participants to move around the field.

Spectators will be required to wear face coverings at all times and social distance. To help, dashed painted lines placed 10’ out from field sidelines will allow extra space for safe gameplay. Individual spectators are required to sit or stand on field sidelines only within designated positions that will be placed 6’ apart and marked with a painted X.

Each field will also have a designated referee area on the end lines so they can be separated from teams and spectators during halftime and between games. Game officials must wear face coverings when not engaged in refereeing activities.

Field marshals will have set positions as well and be thoroughly trained in event health and safety protocols. They will be monitoring gameplay and assisting customers to ensure all follow our guidelines.

Here are examples of expanded field layouts and markings.

7v7 Field - 8U-10U
9v9 Field - 11U-12U
11v11 Field - 13U-14U
11v11 Field - 15U-19U

Mind the Lines and Signs:  Anywhere a line may form such as entrances and exits, the EDP headquarters tent, or our onsite port-a-pots, we will have staff or signs reminding participants to social distance and stay 6 ft apart at all times. Also, directional signage will be placed around each field to guide you to stay within designated walkways. We ask that participants keep right or left and stay in small uniform groups to ensure safely distanced walkways around the facility.

Onsite Medical Safe Haven: Medical stations and staff will be onsite to assist with normal injuries and emergency needs. These trained professionals will also be well-versed in all of the proper health and safety protocols and guidelines from the CDC. They will be able implement EDP Soccer’s response plan if anyone has symptoms related to COVID-19.  If you or members of your team feel sick, this is where they can go to get professional help.

EDP Soccer recommends all participants take their temperature before leaving home. If you do feel sick or think you have symptoms, please do not attend the event and seek medical attention immediately.

Know Before You Go: Help EDP mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by doing your part.

Be prepared by knowing our protocols and training your parents and players before they arrive onsite.

Return to Play Webinar with Q&A Session:  Before each tournament coaches and team managers will have the opportunity to join live webinars to learn more and ask questions.

EDP Soccer staff will present best practices and checklists outlining what participants need to do before they leave home and when they arrive on the fields to make sure you have the most positive experience possible. These presentations will be recorded for your reference and to share with your teams.

Please share this article and the additional resources that we will be providing throughout our Return to Play campaign. Stay tuned for more and get the latest information at

View or download our complete COVID-19 Mitigation Plan »
(Subject to change. As of 6-25-20.)