McLean baseball practice

McLean High School baseball player socially distance during a recent practice sessions. (From McLean)

Under strict social-distancing guidelines and other various restrictions, a number of public high-school varsity sports teams in Fairfax County have begun holding limited and occasional outdoor practices in preparation for any potential upcoming seasons during the 2020-21 school year.

The fall sports season for public-school high school teams in  Fairfax have been postponed until – possibly – the early spring. At this point, the winter season is scheduled to begin with practices in mid-December, then the spring campaign will take place in May and June.

Langley director of student activities Geoff Noto explained that many guidelines and protocols must be followed throughout all practices, which limits what can normally be accomplished.

In baseball, for example, no more than two players can touch the same ball before it has to be replaced and cleaned. So two players can play catch and a pitcher and catcher can throw the ball back and forth. But traditional infield double plays, when as many as four or five players touch the ball during the sequence, can’t be practiced, nor can relay throws from the outfield to home.

Also, the popular game of “pepper” isn’t permitted.

“It’s very limited, but I guess it’s better than nothing, and we’ll take anything at this point,” one local high-school baseball coach said.

There are limitations in other sports, as well. In track and field, hurdles can’t be used. In soccer, there are restrictions on touching the goalposts.

In tennis, which already has a lot of social-distancing, the guidelines are less strict.

“Sometimes things don’t make sense and can be confusing, but those are the guidelines we have to follow for now if we want to hold practices,” Noto said. “That’s the way it’s going to be for a while.”

Some high-school coaches have decided not to hold practice sessions for now, hoping restrictions will ease in coming weeks. 

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