Guest Post: Sports Day – Co-operative or Competitive?

by admin on 30/05/2014

Sports DayIt’s that time of the year again! Sports Days are taking place in many primary schools over the next few weeks. Many schools may consider approaching the day as fun, inclusive and non-competitive which encourages all children to be involved. The Irish Primary PE Association (IPPEA) advocates for such an approach which does not necessarily revolve around winning medals. This does not mean that a healthy sense of competition cannot be fostered. Here are some ideas which may assist in organising the day….

General Organisation

The Space: stations/circuits – for each event or zones/grids – for each class. Consider spaces around school (yards, field, local park). Teachers organise the events in their grids/stations, have the equipment at hand in the morning and helpers to monitor the activity and record results on score sheet. In terms of a timetable, each class could spend 20 mins or more at each station with adequate breaks. This is the simplest, least competitive way to set up and next bullet points need not apply.

Forming Teams: colours: each child in each class is allocated a colour and children get colour sticker for their t-shirt (or wear your teams colours!) Teams spread across the class/school or junior/senior cycle. Therefore you win for your team (who are all spread around at different stations) rather than being ‘pitted against’ your own classmates. This allows less able children to ‘win’ a prize.

Points System/Prizes:

– All children receive a point for participation in all activities

– Allocate a number of points for 1st, 2nd, 3rd place for competitive races

– All points for each event are written on the score sheet and handed up

– Results handed up as points per colour team not names

– Totals added up on master score sheet/chart to find winning colour

– Winning colour (team) – all children get a medal/prize

– Draw up a score sheet for each zone/event & a master score

Activities for Stations

• ‘Traditional’ races: spud and spoon; three legged; sack race; wheelbarrow (these could count towards team prize)

• Agility stations: Fun ladder drills; mini-hurdles (non-competitive)

• Games based stations: rounders; unihoc; basketball (non-competitive)

• Relays: Junior classes- Teddy bear relay; Balloon relay; Beanbag relay; Hoola hoop relay; Bib Relay. Senior classes- Balloon tunnel relay; Paired relays; Chin relay; Bat and ball relay (could be included in team prizes)

• Team challenges: based on Outdoor and Adventure strand unit: outdoor challenges: bull ring; gutter ball; fill the bucket; circle hoops; birthday line-up (non-competitive)

• Novelty events: water balloon races; tug of war; obstacle courses; bouncy castle (non-competitive or could count towards prizes)

More detailed descriptions of activities are available in members area of IPPEA website and on various other websites (;

Caitríona Cosgrave is Secretary of the Irish Primary PE Association (IPPEA)

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