Skip to content

Making the most of reopening

As outdoor sport returns, we've pulled together advice and guidance on how to encourage people back to physical activity in a safe environment.

29th March 2021

With outdoor sport and physical activity reopening today, we’ve put together a suite of resources to help the sector return to play.

A combination of improving weather and the successful vaccine rollout looks set to boost people’s motivations and ability to be more active now outdoor grassroots sport and physical activity is allowed for all ages.

More than half of people (51%) say they feel less worried about returning to play now the vaccine rollout has begun, compared to 40% in January - we've also used this research to draw up a list of top tips to help providers encourage people back to activity.

But our insight also shows people may be lacking in confidence after a prolonged break from their usual activities, so we’ve collated a set of resources to help the sector encourage people and ease them in slowly.

Alongside the top tips, we've got a comprehensive set of frequently asked questions, updated legal guidance, a refreshed clubs toolkit and a set of case studies from organisations about how they’ve planned for this return to play.

“Today is a vital milestone as many people can get back to the sports and activities they have missed so much,” said Tim Hollingsworth, our chief executive.

“It also signals a big step on the nation’s road to recovery as the nation starts to move out of the winter restrictions. The fact organised sport is one of the first things to reopen underlines its importance to our health and wellbeing and we hope many people feel the confidence to get back out there and enjoy it this week. 

“I have been so impressed by the resilience and adaptability of sport providers over the past year since the pandemic began.

“We’ve all worked together to get to this point and now we must focus on rebuilding activity levels and making sure we do all we can so that everyone can benefit from the joy that being active brings.”

Players set up the nets and corner flags for a football match

Golf courses, tennis courts, outdoor pools and outdoor gyms are just some of the facilities allowed to reopen today, while organised sport can also begin – allowing leagues that had to be paused late last year to recommence.

But with as many as 30% of people admitting their ability to perform daily activities, such as taking the stairs or carrying shopping, has declined since the pandemic began, we know activity levels will take time to recover to their pre-coronavirus levels.

Return to play resources

Our resources for the sector includes:

Top tips for encouraging people to return

We've used our own insight to produce a set of top tips that people have told us will help them return to play. These are:

  • Showcase your safety measures
  • Emphasis the enjoyment factor
  • Show the mental health benefits
  • Ease people back in
  • Keep it cheap, or free.

Find out more

Comprehensive frequently asked questions

We’ve worked with the government to answer your most frequently asked questions about the restrictions and compiled them all for you here. Whether you’ve got a question about how far people can travel for exercise, whether you’re allowed to open your changing rooms or what the exemptions to the rules are, we’ve got the answers.

Your questions answered

Legal support

Legal issues arising from coronavirus need to be taken into account by sport and physical activity providers in order to safely return to play. We previously worked with Sheridans Sports Group to give providers advice on what issues need considering. We’ve now teamed up again to give guidance on the issue of vaccinations and how they could affect the return to play.

Find out more

Clubs toolkit

Our Club Matters website has been updated to bring all its return to play resources onto one page. So, whether you want to know how to create a risk assessment, how to promote social distancing or how to find out more about your members – it’s all in one convenient place.

Find out more

Case studies

All sport and physical activity providers have had to prepare for the return to play, so we’ve spoken to a variety of types and sizes of organisation to find out how the past year has been for them, what they’ve learned and how they’ve prepared for this reopening. We’ll continue to add to this new 'return to play' section of our case studies page as we speak to more providers.

Read the case studies

Return to play hub

Many of the resources listed above can be accessed via our return to play hub, which brings everything you need into one place.

In addition to the above, we’ve also got advice on being inclusive and accessible, how to support both the professional workforce and volunteers, and guidance on keeping your facilities safe and hygienic for everyone.

Return to play

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.