Recommended age group: 13–14
Time required: two 45–60 minute sessions
Equipment: Play by the rules activity sheets, benches, cones or markings for an area, bibs and netballs or similar.


Part 1: Classroom activity

  1. Start the lesson with a whole-class discussion on the topic of rules and get young people to talk about why we need rules in sport and life. Use the following key questions to prompt your discussions.
    • What rules do you have to follow every day at school?
    • What rules do you follow at home?
    • What rules do you follow when you go shopping?
    • How do you feel if someone breaks a rule and it affects you? (For example, if someone jumps in front of you in line for lunch and they then run out of your favourite pasta?)
    • Do sports have rules? Why do you think they have them? What would it be like if there weren't any?
    • What do we mean by 'fair play'? And what would be 'unfair' play?
  2. Split pupils into groups and give each group a different Role in sport card (Leader, Coach, Player, Captain, Spectator, and Umpire).
  3. In groups, young people can come up and write down all the rules and behaviours their role must show or adhere to while being involved in sport. Each group can feed back their findings to the rest of the class. Challenge: What is the key behaviour/rule that all these roles have in common?
  4. Now young people are familiar with the behaviours and rules in sport, they can work together to devise a Spirit of Sport mind map similar to the example provided. On their Spirit of Sport mind map young people can show all the sporting behaviours they want to experience through sport and give examples for each one such as: respect, fun, enjoyment, fair play, sportsmanship, friendship, determination, health and team work. There is an extra mind map provided with a word bank for learners who may require extra support.


To extend the more able, ask the young people to circle the behaviours and values that they feel are especially important for them. If time permits have a group discussion to identify similarities, differences and potential reasons for these.

Part two: Practical activity

During this activity young people will build on their ideas of fair play, respect and teamwork. Young people will experience fair play and be encouraged to think about how they can demonstrate respect for their opponents and promote friendship through sport. Young people will get the opportunity to examine their own attitude to sports both on the pitch and away from the game.

This activity can be delivered through any sporting or practical activity where teams are competing against each other, for example Benchball (or Zoneball, where zones are marked out), Dodgeball or Ultimate Frisbee. Try to use an energetic team game which can have many variations of rules.

  1. Decide on an activity to play and split the class into equal teams and encourage them to talk about all the rules they know of for playing your chosen activity.
  2. Come together as a whole class to decide on three to five rules which will be adhered to during your game.
  3. Nominate young people to take on different roles within the lesson such as a:
    • warm-up leader
    • referee
    • coach
    • captain.
  4. The warm-up leaders can begin by leading a fun, active warm-up for their teams.
  5. The captain can lead a team talk to their players about their expectations for their team on and off the pitch and highlight the importance of showing both fair play and respect to everyone involved in the game. The coach can lead a talk about specific tactics or strategies to implement within the games.
  6. Give the first nominated referees the challenge to make one rule for the game unfair - e.g. one team has more players or a bigger goal etc.
  7. Print the Referee cards out which include a set of red cards, yellow cards and green cards for referees to use whilst umpiring their games.
  8. Talk to all the nominated referees together to explain their role as an umpire and how they can use their referee cards and decide on sanctions of their choice. Remember to rotate referees after each game so other young people get to try it out and each referee has to make the game unfair before the teams begin playing.
  9. Rotate teams around to play a new opponent and highlight how they must show respect for each other by listening and agreeing on a new set of rules for their games at the start of every match.
  10. At the start of the lesson print out a number of the Respect Achievement badges as badges or stickers. During the lesson give the referees the responsibility of awarding team players an achievement badge of respect. Encourage referees to recognise and award players when they are respecting their decisions and respecting others during the game.
  11. At the end of the lesson use the following questions to generate discussions with the class:
    • How did they feel playing on a side with all the advantages/disadvantages?
    • How important is it for everyone to play by the same rules?
    • As a captain, do you think you need to show more respect for the rules, and why?
    • How have the different roles you have taken on today made you more mindful about the importance of other people's sporting behaviours?
    • Have they ever been treated unfairly, or been given an unfair advantage? Did you feel respected when this happened?
    • Can you think of something other than referees giving advantages that would help an athlete or team gain an upper hand? Is this fair? Does it respect the competition?

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Working individually or in a team young people can create a poster or give a short speaking and listening style presentation to the class setting out their expectations of others. Examples include asking others to:

  • do everything that was asked of them during the class time without complaint
  • show good sportsmanship by helping others out
  • be a positive role model
  • leave a confrontation by not acting on an impulse or instinct
  • solve a problem in a mature way
  • pack away equipment and be helpful.