Weather Safety Plan 

Games will be canceled for snow on the ground or lightning within the last 30 minutes. (player safety)
Games will be canceled for Severe Weather Alerts. (player safety)
Games will be canceled for unplayable field conditions such as standing or pooling water on the fields. (player safety and concern for field damage)
Games played in saturated wet conditions can cause thousands of dollars of damage to a field and the field can take months to recover.

Always assume "game on" unless you hear from your coach or until a cancellation is posted on our website, Facebook page, etc. Weather can vary greatly near the mountains. Do not assume that the weather at your house is the same as at the fields (unless you live by the fields).

If you can leave footprints on the field due to wetness, it's too wet to play. In the end, it would be better to reschedule the event to avoid turf damage and potential injury to players.

If you don't hear from us an hour before your game start time (8am), we will make the call at the field.  

If we are in a lightning delay when you arrive, stay in your vehicle until there has been no lightning or thunder for 30 minutes. 


Soccer is an outdoor sport; we play in the rain, we play in the cold.  Still, the safety of players and coaches is a prime concern. Visible lightning or audible thunder – at the soccer fields or during soccer play will automatically result in a cancellation of all games being played at that time. Subsequent games to be played later that day will be canceled separately if weather conditions continue.

Due to rapidly changing weather conditions advance notice of weather cancellations may not always be possible. It is recommended parents and children always show up to the field unless they have received notification from their coach, the regional commissioner, or if they have been posted as canceled on the AYSO Website and or Facebook page.

Criteria For Cancellation

1. Due to field conditions or safety concerns: The regional commissioner will declare the soccer fields “unplayable”.  Most often this is due to the fields being excessively wet, however, it could also be due to extreme dryness, ice buildup or snow accumulation. Playing on fields that are excessively wet or dry can damage or kill the grass and potentially require fields to be left unused for several months of recovery.  Smaller accumulations of slush or snow would not be a concern and soccer would not be canceled, however, larger amounts of ice, slush or snow could create a concern for safe soccer play and necessitate a soccer cancellation.
2. Due to Weather:
As an outdoor sport soccer is played in less than ideal conditions including falling drizzle, rain, sleet and snow. However, the presence of visible lightning or audible thunder - at the soccer fields and at the time of play (with or without falling rain) creates a safety concern and necessitates a soccer cancellation. Bad weather can move through Utah very quickly, therefore, advance notice of weather cancellations may or may not be possible.  

Cancellation Procedures

1. Due to field conditions or safety concerns:
If the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center declares the fields “unplayable”, games will be canceled. Check the AYSO 126 website or Facebook page for Field Conditions/ Game Status.

Note AYSO 126 plays games at Union Fields and several fields in Sandy.  So games may only be cancelled at specific locations.  Please be sure to check if games are canceled at the location where you are expected to play.

2. Due to Weather:
“Advance” cancellations: If the Regional Commissioner is able to declare a weather cancellation in advance, this determination will be made at 8 am game day. Information will be posted on the web site and facebook. 

Coaches are not allowed to declare “advance” weather cancellations.

“On-Field” cancellations: If a weather cancellation is not made more than one hour before scheduled soccer start time an on-field cancellation may be needed due to changing weather conditions.  On-field cancellations can be declared by the Regional Commissioner or referees. If coaches, parents or players believe an on-field cancellation is necessitated, they should raise their concerns with the Regional Commissioner or Referee Supervisors. If an “on-field” cancellation is declared, it will immediately apply to all teams on all fields in the division.

All parents and players should be encouraged to leave the fields as quickly as possible or they assume personal responsibility for any issues.  Weather conditions can change rapidly.

The Region does not reschedule canceled games

If a scheduled refereed game is canceled prior to starting coaches may contact each other to arrange a scrimmage during the weekday at their practice times.

In addition, a team sometimes misses a game because they have a conflict with gameplay on a particular day (50% of the team is gone on spring break). To reschedule, the two coaches should agree on a day and time.

  • We cancel games due to: (1) lightning, driving rain, standing water on the fields, or other conditions making play dangerous or impractical; or (2) ground so wet that play will damage the fields. We don't cancel merely because it's raining unless it’s a storm of Biblical proportions!
  • Please note that game status is subject to change and cancellation updates may not be posted on the website or our Facebook page in time for your game. Cancellation may occur at any time. We strongly advise that coaches and parents exchange cell phone numbers so that notice of last-minute cancellations can spread quickly.
  • Game cancellations in advance can only be made by the Regional Commissioner. Game-time cancellations on the field can also be made by the coaches or referee based on observed conditions.
  • We adhere to the AYSO National Guidelines on severe weather. According to these Guidelines, thunder and lightning are treated in THE EXACT SAME MANNER. Our first concern in the presence of lightning is the safety of our players and families. Should lightning be seen or thunder heard, coaches or referees will stop the game or practice.  Players, spectators and coaches are advised to immediately clear the field and seek shelter in either a vehicle or appropriate structure (trees are not considered safe shelter). 
  • Games or practice should not resume until 30 minutes have passed from the most recent recognition of either thunder or lightning. Each instance of thunder or lightning during the period of delay will result in a reset of the 30-minute period. Note that in many cases, the initial delay will result in termination of the match because another match is scheduled on the same field.  
  • We realize that in some instances, it may intuitively appear that the danger is either remote or has passed. Nevertheless, the full 30-minute waiting period shall be observed.  Nobody should gamble with the safety of our players, volunteers, and spectators. 

Determining Soccer Field Playability Do's/Dont's


Rectangular Field Maintenance Do's and Don’ts

  • Fill all holes and low areas completely to ensure safe playing conditions and to eliminate where water can collect, which creates muddy conditions.
  • Do not shovel, scoop, rake or sweep water, mix or topsoil into grass areas.
  • Do not remove mix or topsoil from wet areas.
  • Do not bring foreign material onto fields to fill wet areas or low spots.
  • Do not use any field when such use will cause damage to the field or risk personal injury.

Determine Field Playability

  • REMEMBER: Standing water occurs because the ground is saturated. Removing standing water does not eliminate the saturation. It is the saturation and not standing water that causes damage and unsafe conditions.

Determining the playability of an athletic field is crucial to the continued health of the turf and the sustainability of the field throughout the season. The Park Authority will close its athletic fields if park staff determines that fields are too wet for play, or if other issues arise that would compromise patron safety.

An athletic field should be considered closed for play if any part of the field becomes unsafe for field users or if conditions exist where use will cause damage to the field.

  • An athletic field should be considered closed if any of the following conditions exist:
    • There is standing water present on any part of the field that cannot be removed without causing damage to the field.
    • There are muddy conditions present that will not dry by the start of the game.
    • While walking on the field water can be seen or heard with a footstep.
    • While walking on the field of play, any impression of your footprint is left in the surface
    • If water gathers around the sole of a shoe or boot on any portion of the field.

Water Removal Techniques For Rectangular Fields

Important Note: Water removal should only be undertaken to accelerate the drying of fields. Water removal should not be undertaken with the expectation that fields will be available for play.

  • Never sweep or push water into the grass
  • Never move muddy material from one portion of the field to another
  • Never remove muddy material from the field. If muddy material is not dry by game time, the field should be closed until the material dries.
  • A hand pump and bucket can be used to remove water in areas where there are puddles. Once the bucket is full dispose of the water outside the field of play. However, this will not make the field immediately playable, it will only accelerate drying of the affected area.
  • In turf areas, the use of materials such as drying agents (Turface, Pro Choice, etc) wood chips, peat moss, or sand to dry water of mud is not practiced due to secondary problems that can occur as a result of their use.

Rain Out Policy

The criteria used to determine if a field is judged to be unplayable is:

a) Standing puddles of water on the surface of the field.
b) Water sponging up around your feet when you walk on the field.

If either of these conditions are in existence, the playing field is considered "UNPLAYABLE."

If your group arrives at a soccer field with these conditions in existence, you are asked NOT to play on the field, which is a safety factor and you may cause damage to the field.


We cancel practices and games due to: 

(1) lightning, driving rain, snow on the fields or other conditions making play dangerous or impractical

(2) Standing water that can cause injury and damage the fields.

Cancellation may occur at any time.

We strongly advise that coaches and parents to check their emails 1 hour before your scheduled practice time slot.

Game Rainout
Scheduled games will proceed in inclement weather unless they are specifically canceled.  Play is only canceled if:
  • The City closes the fields, or
  • The home page shows Closed, or
  • The referee at the game cancels it.
NOTE:  Coaches may not cancel a game

We make every attempt to keep playing, working within the City of Palo Alto's field-use guidelines and considering the safety of the players.

The Regional Commissioner, in consultation with the Regional Referee Administrator can cancel games prior to the scheduled time of play.  The only person authorized to cancel a game at the field is the Referee that is scheduled for that game, after personally inspecting the field.  Coaches cannot cancel a game, even by mutual consent.  Game cancellation will depend on the age level and fields being used, and the weather  conditions. 

It is lots of fun to play soccer in the rain, but Palo Alto playing fields are heavily used, and the city closes the grass fields in rain conditions to avoid damage. Holding practice or games on closed fields risks losing our field permits.  However, if the field is not closed by the City, and the field is not soggy, play or practice may continue in the presence of a light drizzle.  

If a game is interrupted or delayed due to rain, but the City has not closed the fields for the day, play may resume later.  Depending on the amount of rain and the condition of the field when rain ceases, it may be possible for a game to start late or resume.  The Referee decides.  Games later in the day may proceed when earlier games have had to be cancelled.  It's a good idea to show up at the field if the fields is open, unless you hear otherwise.

Assume that soccer is ON unless you hear otherwise. Soccer is a sport that is played in all conditions. 

Weather Policy: 
Soccer Games are played in the rain and cold. The mere presence of rain, snow, or low temperatures does not mean that games will be cancelled. The policy is to attempt to play all games when possible. The Regional Commissioner is the only ones permitted to call off games ahead of time.  Coaches should not call off games ahead of time. If it is thundering/lighting/heavy downpour, referees/ coaches can make the call on the field. 

AYSO will do everything in its power to play all scheduled games that are listed on each team's schedule. Due to field availability and time constraints, AYSO will not guarantee that matches that become rained-out will be rescheduled.

In case of inclement weather the AYSO Soccer Website Home-page and Facebook Page will be used to indicate the field conditions and the status of games and to provide other weather related information. If games start and the weather turns bad and necessitates the cancellation of later games, the website will be updated as soon as possible. We strongly encourage each parent to check the website up to 30 minutes prior to coming to the fields for games. If the website doesn't indicate any adverse weather conditions, postponements, or cancellation then everyone should assume that all matches for that day are being played as scheduled.

Reasons for AYSO game cancellations:

1) The City has closed the fields.
2) The fields are wet to the point where playing the game will destroy the playing surface. 
3) The presence of thunderstorms and lightning.
4) It is raining hard at the time of the scheduled game and the temperature is low enough to make conditions unbearable for the children.

Weather/Lightning Safety Plan

Lightning is one of the leading weather-related causes of death and injury in the United States. 

The purpose of this plan is to provide a safe environment for participants, spectators, parents, coaches, officials, and staff. No lightning safety plan will provide 100% guaranteed total safety, but the following guidelines will greatly minimize the lightning hazard to people.

These guidelines are to be used to help those responsible for making decisions concerning the cancellation, suspension, or restarting of games or activities: 

1. When lightning is first seen or thunder is heard - all in attendance at the outdoor activity should immediately go to their cars or enter an enclosed building. 
2. Thirty-Minute Rule – Once play/practice has been suspended, that game is done for the day. The site supervisor will wait at least 30 minutes following the last flash of lightning prior to resuming play. If no lightning is seen the site supervisor will make the decision to resume play for the following hour’s activities. 
3. Once the decision has been made to clear the area and seek shelter, the current activity, as well as those who fall within the Thirty-minute Rule, will be canceled. Those activities scheduled after the Thirty-Minute Rule will be played as scheduled, if the environment and field conditions are safe.
4. Any time a coach wants to pull his/her team from the field or a parent his/her child from the field, due to inclement weather, we will not prevent them from doing so and there will be no penalty taken against that team, coach, or parent. Activities may resume or be rescheduled based on the above Thirty-Minute Rule. Common sense is the best rule when dealing with lightning. The decision should err on the side of being safe & conservative – lightning should be taken seriously. 
5. Refusal by coaches or staff to abide by these guidelines is not acceptable for the safety of all.
6. At any time, if the field conditions or weather conditions are deemed unsafe, the Regional Commissioner reserves the Final right to cancel or postpone any game or activity. 

High Winds When a high wind warning is issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), outdoor activities shall not operate within close proximity of trees, power lines, and other potential hazards. The NWS defines a high wind warning as sustained wind speeds of 40 mph or greater lasting for 1 hour or longer or 58 mph or greater for any duration of time. The regional Commissioner or Referees may, at any time, deem conditions unsafe and cancel or postpone any game or activity.

#44 – Effective Weather Policy for Youth Soccer

September 3, 2018

Who Cares?

"How's the weather?" is a common conversation opener, but when I hear it, I brace myself for a boring discussion. I get it. This is important stuff though. People have been hurt or killed, and thousands of games get cancelled or delayed every season. I've heard parents and coaches complain about a closure or delay and I understand that too. We came to play soccer, not sit in our car or worse - go home without grass or turf jammed in our cleats. 

An effective policy is one that keeps players and spectators safe, and protects the fields from damage. 

It's Just Rain...

I hear this one a lot. A little rain never hurt anyone. While probably close to being true, a little rain might hurt a field. Well... the rain actually just softens up the field most of the time. It's a stampede of 14 to 22 pairs of cleats running across the field that causes the damage. 

Soft grass fields can be damaged easily. Cleats kick up clumps of grass. Mud slicks and holes are left where the grass used to be. Those slicks and holes grow. They become trip hazards, slip hazards, and ankle twisting hazards. The pool with water which hides their depth and bend player's knees backwards when they misread the terrain. 

Rain by itself ins't much of a threat. It makes the ball wet. It makes a ball slap hurt more than usual. It can get in a player's eyes and cause them to misread a header or slip and slide into another player. But the rain itself isn't much of a threat. In fact, one may argue, rain and mud makes the game even more fun! At least that's the way we looked at it when we were kids. 

Rules about playing on damaged fields have evolved over time. Today, playing on a damaged field is something we try to avoid. In fact, we try to avoid damaging the field at all. This way, we get a full season of play time out of it. 

Keep in mind that when fields are closed for rain, it's for safety of the players and protection of the fields. In our area of the country, the general rule is if there has been 1/2 inch of rain or more on a field in the previous 24 hours before an event, the fields are closed. Our County government makes that rule. What's the rule like in your part of the country?

Thunder and Lightning on Soccer Fields

Whether we see lightning or hear thunder, it really makes no difference. You can't have thunder without lightning, and either one means you're in a bad spot if you're on a soccer field. 

What do they tell you in lightning storms? Get away from trees because the tallest thing is more likely to be struck than things that are low to the ground. Experts teach us to seek shelter, minimize our exposure, minimize the damage. 

Take it from a guy who's done CPR on a full grown man who had the misfortune of 50,000 volts of electricity through his body. High voltage and the human body don't mix! Think overcooked turkey and the smell of burnt hair here. Freaked out? Good. 

On a soccer field, the players and spectators are very often the tallest thing on the field next to the goal posts. That's like having 8-22 lightning rods running around. 

The illustration above, done by Ted Slampyak for The Art of Manliness, shows you the best position to assume if you're caught in a storm.

And don't go for the goal posts in case you're thinking that it's safer near them. Lightning spreads out across the ground when it strikes something like a tree, a goal post, or a human crouched in lightning position. That's why experts also have us spread out 100 feet between people - so if one gets hit, the others might still survive!

The right thing to do here is clear out! Get off the field. Get into a car, a concrete bathroom house, a nearby building... Just about any shelter is better than hanging around in the open on a soccer field. 

You should stay clear for 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder or strike of lightning. Anything less than 30 minutes and you might still be close enough to a storm to get struct by a bolt. Most fields use the 30 minute rule. In the middle of a tournament, this can slide everything to the right on the schedule - making for late starts for the rest of the day unless they find a way to trim time off the schedule and reset game times to normal. 

Hot Days on a Soccer Field

Not as spectacular and scary as thunder, but also uncomfortable and potentially deadly is hot and cold weather. The best policy for hot and cold weather that I've been able to find has specifics about temperatures and what should happen to practices, games, and uniforms when certain thresholds are reached. See the table below.  



Up to 84°

Normal Play

85°- 89°

Mandatory two-minute water breaks per half with running time.


Mandatory two-minute water breaks per half with running time. Each half shortened by five minutes.


Mandatory two-minute water breaks per half with running time. Each half shortened by ten minutes.


Suspend Play

Heat is a problem when it prevents the body from cooling itself. The hotter the body gets, the more likely it is to increase fatigue levels, develop cramps and increase the possibility of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The hotter and more humid the weather, the faster these problems can develop. Temperatures as low as 65 degrees, with a relative humidity of 100%, can be serious.

1. Every coach and referee should have access to a heat index chart (
2. Games need to be adjusted as the heat index rises:

     a. Mandatory water breaks
     b. Go to quarters
     c. Shorten the games

3. Provide training to coaches to teach the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Club administrators and tournament officials are responsible for monitoring the heat index (by weather radio, online or the Weather Channel) and keeping the participating teams and game officials informed of the heat index. Coaches are encouraged to also monitor the conditions. 

Cold Days on a Soccer Field

Sometimes, cold becomes a factor. Players should dress in warm clothing. Field conditions will be affected by freezing rain, sleet, and snow. The ground may become frozen and be unsafe for play. Temperature means either ambient (still air) or wind chill index. Check weather radio frequently for temperature and weather conditions.

Here is a sample cold weather table and the modifications to play that might go along with changes in temperature. I took this chart from Massachusetts Youth Soccer. They deal with cold pretty often and should know. I found exactly the same table being used by clubs out in the Mid-West. 

Taken from Massachusetts Youth Soccer - They should know!

  • Players on sidelines should remain dressed (if in warm-ups) until they enter the game.
  • Players coming off should towel off (if sweaty) and get dressed quickly.
  • No one should sit or lie directly on ground. The heat is lost faster to ground than to air. Blankets and chairs are recommended.
  • Keep hydrated-avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks.
  • Keep an eye on field conditions (wet, icy, etc.). Cold wet conditions can quickly change field from safe footing to slippery.
  • Keep an eye on the goalie—usually the player who gets coldest first, as not running or moving like a field player.
  • Referees and coaches should discuss weather and fields pre-game.
  • Safety and health of the players come first.

Strong Winds

Winds present unique hazards and game conditions on the field. Objects can become projectiles, sand can become eye an eye irritant, and gear can find it's way on and off the field on it's own. From a purely game strategy perspective, winds force a team to consider their ground game vs their air game. From a safety perspective, officials on the field need to make the call. 

Safety is always priority number one. If unsafe conditions occur, it becomes the responsibility of officials (coaches and referees) to make a judgment call and ensure everyone is safe. 

Who's In Charge?

Typically, in the run-up to a game or practice, the club or organization makes the judgment call. Once players arrive and the game is underway, the officials on the field have the decision authority. This would be referees (who typically will consult with the coaches), or coaches if the event is a practice or other gathering.