Recommended age group: 12–13
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.


This lesson focuses on rules and respect and how they underpin the Spirit of Sport. Young people will understand that whether they are a player, coach, leader, captain or spectator it is crucial to adhere to the rules in order to ensure a positive sporting environment. This lesson will encourage young people to understand respect for the sport or activity which they are playing, respect for others (e.g. team mates, coaches, opponents and officials) as well as self-respect.

This lesson has two parts to it, part one is classroom based and part two is a practical activity. Young people will have meaningful discussions, make links to everyday laws in society and from this they will create Spirit of Sport mind maps in small groups. Through playing Bench/Zoneball young people will understand respect for sports equipment, the importance of a balanced competition and will learn how to play using different rules. They will celebrate and recognise the achievement of others by awarding various badges or stickers. This lesson is a brilliant introduction to the importance of rules, the true meaning of respect and how these ensure the Spirit of Sport is maintained.

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.
  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

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) Football, Netball, 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 3-5 rules which will be adhered to during your game.
  3. Inform the class that they have the responsibility for nominating each other for an achievement award at the end of the lesson. Each team must nominate a captain, the captain must then give a 'team talk' to their team about their expectations of their team members during the game. Give the captain the authority to take players off or move positions of their team members if they aren't playing fairly during the match.
  4. Give each team an area to play in and set them off to play games against another team.
  5. Stop teams at an appropriate time to give them a team talk and give each team the task of introducing a new rule to their game such as:
    • Each team must make four passes before they can score.
    • If a player has the ball they cannot move their feet apart to change direction.
  6. 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.
  7. Print off a number of the Respect Achievement badges as badges or stickers at the start of the lesson. As a lesson plenary in their teams give young people the task of nominating a peer to receive an achievement badge or sticker. Encourage young people to recognise and celebrate each other's achievements and explain why they have chosen to award their peer with the badge or sticker. You, as the teacher, could also hand out a special 'Respect' badge for someone you think has worked particularly well and hard during the lesson.

Website links


Go the extra mile!

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.