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How to host your family or friend’s sports day

While the Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed this year, you can still get in the spirit of things with your own family sports day. Summer is here, the sun is out and it’s time to head to your garden or your local outdoor space to get some fresh air, a healthy dose of competition and make some long-lasting memories with your family.

Here is a simple checklist of things you need to organise for a fun family sports day:

Think of sports day race ideas, competitions and activities

Planning your sports day should be fun! A simple way to come up with your activity list is to bring all participants together and to brainstorm race, competition and activity ideas that you want to fill your day with. From the simple to the more abstract, any idea is a good idea at this stage!

Races are probably the more obvious choice for a sports day. And within the more popular races are: 

  • the egg and spoon race: players must cross the finish line carrying a spoon with a whole egg in.
  • the sack race: players jump to the finish line in a big bag.
  • wheelbarrow race: pairs race across the finish line while one person holds the other’s feet and the other person uses their hands to travel.
  • obstacle course: set out 5-10 obstacles along a path for participants to climb, jump or run over, under or through. Make it as hard or easy as your family’s abilities.
  • sprinting race: set out a few lanes in a straight line as far as you can go in your garden or 100m in the park. Whistles blows and it’s a free for all.
  • relay race: teams of 2+ will be spread along a course at regular intervals, running to each other and passing an object, until the final person crosses the finish line.

Your family might be keen to include some slightly different and abstract ideas for competitions. A few that could be real crowd pleasers include:

  • gymnastic displays: plan ahead, giving each participant a theme and a ‘dance floor’ (i.e. a square area that they will perform in). They should choose their song and plan and practice their routine ahead of time.
  • throwing the furthest: choose an object to throw, be in a ball, a sack of potatoes, a stick or whatever you want, line your players up and measure how far they can throw it without crossing their line.
  • scavenger hunts: plant objects and clues around your garden or an area in the park and put your players in teams. 
  • art competition: all you need is paper, pens and a stopwatch. Give your participants a theme and time them. 

Finally, you will need to make sure you have a good idea of your plans for the opening, closing and prize giving ceremonies. The first rule for ceremonies is that ribbons help. Make sure the opening ceremony has a ribbon cutting, some proud and energy-pumping music, and a procession of participants.

For the prize giving ceremonies, plan your prizes in advance: your kids might like to draw the medals or put together some gifts, or you might prefer to buy a heap of sweet treats to dish out. Think about whether the adults could also get some booze as prizes.

Appoint a games master 

See your games master as a master of ceremonies; a maestro of sorts. Whoever they are, they should be organised, confident and up for a bit of fun. They will need to delegate, to tell people where to be, to stick to a schedule, to note winners (and losers!) and bring a bit of competition to the fun. This person will make of break the sports day. No pressure.

Create a leader board 

Kids or craft-fans at the ready: you will need to make your leader board. This should be a table of games and participants for the games master to fill in. 
Depending on how exuberant your sports day will be, feel free to add glitter, drawings, stickers. The more fun or beautiful the better!

Find a location

This is key, especially while we are spending our time being a little careful of others. If you garden is big enough, an enclosed and private space is definitely best. However, your local park, beach or field (depending on your local government regulation) is also great. If you opt for the latter, make sure you have enough space to not bother anyone else, and that you have an area to dump your accessories without them being blown away.

Plan your food and drink

By the sounds of things, this sports day is going to be pretty epic, so you’ll need enough sustenance to keep your team of players energetic and uplifted. 

First of the agenda is to stay hydrated; everyone will need plenty to drink, whether that’s water, squash or orange slices, make sure that they have enough whenever they need it. Adults might also want some alcoholic accompaniments to the day.

Secondly, you’ll need some food that keeps those energy levels topped up. Although you might want a main meal as a break in the day, make sure you also have plenty of snacks. Chocolate, crisps and sweets are good for quick boosts, but fruit and healthy snacks should be a-plenty to avoid a post-sports day slump.