The importance of sports day in school for the overall health and wellbeing of students

Every year nearly every school in the UK puts on an annual sports day. Sports days are a great opportunity to bring students together in the school community, have fun and get active. We know that exercise has lots of benefits for pupils and students, and that sports days are important for their health and wellbeing. 

Here is why…

Young people are not physically active

A recent study from the World Health Organization found that the “majority of adolescents worldwide are not sufficiently physically active, putting their current and future health at risk.” People under 18 are advised to undertake some kind of physical activity for an hour a day. But long hours at school, a growth in social media and technology use, and squeezing of PE from the curriculum means that those targets are not being met. In 2020 to 2021, less than half (44.6%) of children and young people aged 5-16)in England met the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of taking part in sport and physical activity for an average of 60 minutes or more every day. Girls are particularly at risk, so finding an inclusive activity for all genders is essential. The varied nature of sports day means there is something for everyone.

Sports day can be inspiring

While a single sports day event cannot single-handedly reverse the trend of physical inactivity among young people, its potential to inspire and motivate cannot be underestimated. Sports day serves as a vibrant showcase of the joy and exhilaration that comes from physical activity, offering a much-needed counterbalance to the sedentary lifestyle that technology and modern conveniences promote. It acts as a reminder that physical activity isn’t just about rigorous exercise or competitive sports; it’s about celebrating movement and the capabilities of our bodies in a fun and supportive environment.

For many students, sports day is a revelation. It’s a day where they discover new interests and abilities they didn’t know they had. A student who always thought they weren’t “sporty” might find joy in the teamwork of a relay race or the individual challenge of a long jump. This discovery can be the first step towards incorporating more physical activity into their daily lives, inspiring a lifelong habit of movement.

Moreover, sports day can highlight the beauty of personal achievement and growth. It’s not just about who runs the fastest or jumps the longest; it’s about personal bests, overcoming nerves, and trying something new. Witnessing peers and friends pushing their limits and enjoying themselves irrespective of winning or losing can be profoundly inspiring. It reinforces the idea that effort and participation are valuable, fostering a positive mindset towards physical activity and life challenges in general.

The inclusive and varied nature of sports day means that every student can find their niche. From traditional track and field events to more unconventional competitions like welly throwing, the diversity ensures that inspiration is not a one-size-fits-all. It’s about finding joy in movement, embracing challenges, and celebrating the myriad ways our bodies can move and interact with the world around us.

Furthermore, sports day can serve as an inspirational platform for teachers and parents to join in, either through participation or support. Seeing adults engaged in physical activity can reinforce the message that it’s a lifelong journey, encouraging students to view it as an integral part of life, not just something confined to their school years.

In essence, sports day transcends the boundaries of a mere school event; it becomes a source of inspiration, a catalyst for change, and a powerful reminder of the joy and benefits of being active. By igniting this spark of inspiration, sports day can play a crucial role in motivating students to embrace physical activity, not just on that day, but as a foundation for a healthy and active lifestyle.

Sports day can be inclusive

Not everyone is academic, or enjoys learning in the classroom. Sports days can be a great way to include young people who struggle in more academic settings. The mental health toll of being considered behind your peers can be challenging, so an inclusive sports day that celebrates the diversity of skills in a school can improve a sense of wellbeing. People can get a huge boost from finding out that they have skills and can achieve things – when a lot of the education system tells them they can’t.

It improves social skills 

Taking part in sports can also help young people to develop their social skills and build strong relationships. It is a great way to show leadership and teamwork and build communication skills through interacting with other pupils and students. Building relationships within these contexts will help set them up for positive relationships in the future.

It encourages students to try new things

One of the most powerful messages that students and pupils can get from sports day is the value of ‘giving things a go’. Not everyone can be good at everything. Not everyone will win gold medal or first place. You won’t be an expert at everything. And that’s ok. It’s ok to try things out just for the experience.

It encourages students to support

Have you ever seen how much cheering and excitement happens at a sports day? Students rally around their peers to support them to do their best and have fun. It’s a great way to build friendships and relationships in a way that is encouraging and supportive. Smiling, laughing and having fun together is the best way to build a strong school community. 

School sports days can help with physical, mental and social wellbeing and help us create happy and healthy students who thrive at school and in the future. So grab your trainers and get involved!


In conclusion, the role of school sports, particularly through events like sports days, is pivotal in the holistic development of students from a young age. Integrating such activities into the school curriculum not only prioritizes physical health but also plays a critical role in nurturing essential life skills. Sports days stand out as a vibrant testament to how structured physical activities can enrich the school experience, fostering an environment where leadership skills and social skills are developed in tandem with physical prowess.

The participatory and inclusive nature of sports days encourages students to step out of their academic routines and immerse themselves in activities that build self-esteem, promote a healthy body, and instill a sense of camaraderie among peers. It is in these settings that students learn to appreciate the value of supporting other teammates, understanding the essence of good teamwork, and experiencing the joy of making new friends. These are invaluable lessons that sports uniquely deliver, transcending the confines of traditional classroom learning.

Moreover, school sports days are a foundational step in cultivating leadership skills at a young age, offering students the chance to lead by example, manage teams, and develop strategic thinking on the field. These opportunities are not just about winning or losing; they’re about preparing young individuals for the complexities of life, teaching them how to navigate challenges, celebrate successes, and learn from failures.

The incorporation of sports into the school curriculum, highlighted by events like sports days, ensures a well-rounded education that addresses the physical, emotional, and social development of students. It’s about creating a balance between academic pressures and the natural urge for physical expression, ensuring that students don’t just grow into knowledgeable individuals but also into healthy, socially adept, and confident leaders of tomorrow.

As we look towards the future of education, the emphasis on school sports and events like sports days will undoubtedly play a crucial role in shaping well-rounded, healthy, and socially responsible citizens. It’s a commitment to fostering not just a healthy body, but a vibrant community of young people equipped with the self-esteem, leadership skills, and social abilities to thrive in whatever paths they choose to pursue.

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