Go Well Blog

10 steps for sports day success 

Sports day…eagerly looked forward to by many, it can also be dreaded by others, including you. How can you make sure it is a day to remember for everyone, for all the right reasons?

A break from the usual school day, sports days can be a really rewarding experience. By choosing the activities carefully, you can help to build teamwork and cooperation, with children supporting and encouraging each other. It can boost confidence and provide an opportunity to develop social skills. Bringing the whole school together also helps foster school spirit and pride, and, of course it is a great way to promote and encourage physical activity.  

However, organising the event can feel daunting – being responsible for delivering an event involving multiple classes and possibly parents and teachers…Here we outline our 10 steps for success.

10 steps for a successful sports day

  1. Set the date and time well in advance. Check the school calendar to make sure there are no clashes and the date works for everyone involved – teachers, pupils and parents. Decide how long it will last and what role your colleagues and parents will play – will they participate, supervise, spectate only?
  2. Decide on what you want to achieve from the event. Is it a celebration of physical activity and personal achievement or do you want to unite your school and encourage pupils to work together? Setting an objective will help you organise your plan for the day.
  3. Decide on the activities. Reflect on your objective for the day and choose activities that will best help you achieve your goal. Consider involving pupils in choosing a theme and/or deciding on what activities to include. 
  4. Decide how teams will be formed. Will you divide pupils into teams or will you allocate that task to a student group, perhaps with some guidance? Make sure each team has a mix of abilities and talents.
  5. Consider how you will recognise success. Is it first past the post or are there rewards for effort, contribution, teamwork, creativity? Who will decide on the winners? How will you recognise success – certificates, medals?
  6. Assign responsibilities. Who will be present – teachers, parents, volunteers? Who will be able to assist and how? Could they help to set up the venue or activity stations? What about managing the different activities so the event works in carousel form? Who will provide first aid or supervise groups/teams as they move between activity stations or wait for their turn?
  7. Plan the day. What will happen when? What is the order of activities? How long do you need to allow for each event? By setting out your timings you will ensure you allow sufficient time, children won’t be hanging around getting bored and you (and they) won’t be rushing.
  8. Plan for safety. Ensure you have a nominated first aider, and that everyone knows who this is and where they will be during the event. If you are allowing parents on site for the event, make sure they know where they need to stand/sit and if there are any areas that are out of bounds. 
  9. Consider the weather. Do you need a wet weather option – either a scaled back event that takes place in the school hall or fewer/shorter activities outside? If it’s hot, do you have water readily available? Make sure children arrive prepared with sunblock and hats.
  10. Promote the event. Posters in school, announcements in assembly, reminders during classes, practice days…these all help to create excitement and encourage everyone to get involved.

Sports day is a special moment in the school calendar. As well as being a chance to show that there is more to school life than academic success, it gives children who struggle to achieve elsewhere the chance to shine. But most importantly, it is an opportunity for a school to live out its values.

Further information

Your School Games

Twinkl sports day resources and decoration ideas

Go Well Blog

12 ideas for a memorable sports day this year!

Sports days can bring about so many different positive outcomes for children and the wider school community.  As well as being a celebration of sporting achievements and talent within a school, these events are a brilliant opportunity for children to connect, socialise, have fun together and celebrate the benefits of being active.

The day can give pupils who may struggle in other areas of school life the chance to show off their talents, or inspire a child to be more active by having a positive experience of personal challenge. Children can also develop and show leadership, teamwork and communication skills. 

As there are so many potential outcomes, a first step would be to decide on the objectives for your sports day, then design your event to deliver those outcomes.  For example, if you want to deliver a celebration of physical activity and personal achievement, what events could you include? How would you include personal challenge?  How would you celebrate individual success?  If your outcome is to unite your school community, how would you involve different people and groups from your community?  How could they interact within the current restrictions?

Here are 12 ideas that you could use depending on the aims and objective of your sports day:

  1. Involve children in planning the day.  Can they choose the theme? I’m sure they will have some great ideas about what they would like to do, how they can include everyone and what activities to include.
  2. Split classes into teams or houses and give them the goal of collecting points for their team.
  3. In the build-up to the day, have each team create a song, dance or cheer that they perform during the days before sports day and on the day itself.
  4. Have team captains, perhaps in each class, record video good luck messages that can be shown in other classes before the day.
  5. Link the activities to the 5 ways to well-being – Twinkl has some free resources that you could use
  6. Take inspiration from the forthcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games and link your activities to the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and their values. Take a look at Get Set, the British Olympic Association and British Paralympic Association youth engagement programme, for ideas
  7. Have one class/bubble spectate whilst another class takes part in the activities, they can provide encouragement from the sidelines, perhaps singing their team’s song.
  8. Involve parents by setting a challenge such as number of steps for that day or week. These achievements can contribute to house/team scores.  Or ask parents to send in recorded video messages of support to use at the start or in the build-up to the day.  Make sure you make parents aware of your theme/intended outcome so their messages can fit with this.
  9. Hold a virtual opening ceremony – you could ask a sportsperson to record an opening message and share this across all classes.
  10. Why stop at a day? Make it a ‘sports week’ or build-up to the day over a period of weeks.  Give children the opportunity to practice the activities that will be taking place.  Active lessons and linking the curriculum to the theme for the week will provide more opportunities for children to shine.
  11. Set a challenge for teachers too.  This could be something they complete before the event or a challenge for the day itself.
  12. Celebrate successes in different ways – winner of the event?  Achieving a personal best? Best leader?  Biggest smile? WOW moment? Best team chant? etc.  Have a positive scoring system and ensure all your helpers practice positive coaching.

We hope you find these ideas helpful and wish you the best of luck with your sports day. These events can live long in the minds of children, incorporating some of these ideas will help to ensure this is a positive memory for as many pupils as possible.

Here are some additional resources that may also help:

Youth Sport Trust – Youth Voice Toolkit

England Athletics’ Funetics Sports Day programme

School Games Positive Experiences of Competition Toolkit

Youth Sport Trust National School Sport Week – don’t forget to enter the prize draw when you register!