How to structure an effective PE lesson

15th June 2017 at 12:01

In order to deliver effective PE lessons and optimise pupil progress, it’s crucial to have a purposeful and progressive structure to our lessons.

In this article, I will outline the 4 sections that our PE lessons should have to ensure all pupils learn the core skills and learn to apply them under pressure.


  1. Warm-up (Activate)

Getting pupils active in our PE lessons is key to mentally and physically preparing them for the learning to come.

We can make our learning purposeful by linking the warm up to the learning question (LQ)

For example, if our LQ is “How can I improve my dribbling in basketball”, why do we often hesitate to get the pupils each with a basketball, from the outset developing those tactile handling skills?

Tip: It’s good practice to have our equipment laid out before the start of the lesson, ensuring the transitions to later phases are seamless, optimising time for active learning.


  1. Main lesson (Acquire)

The main lesson is where we focus on the development of those key skills.

Building upon the theme of the warm up, we can quickly and effectively provide challenge through appropriate games and activities such as dribbling the ball through the gates (paired cones of the same colour typically spaced circa 1 – 2 yards apart).

Tip: During the main phase of the lesson, it’s effective practice to;

  1. Model the outcomes focusing on one teaching point at a time
  2. Observe for best practice and allow pupils to model the outcomes
  3. Ask pupils to assess their own progress and the performance of others to raise performance outcomes


  1. Competition / Conditioned Game (Apply)

The competition / conditioned game phase is where we provide pupils with the opportunity to challenge themselves further, putting the learned skills into action while under pressure of time or other people.

Tip: Positive competition can be achieved by getting pupils to compete against themselves. For example, the game can be: “How many gates can you dribble through in 30 seconds? – I want you to count out loud each time you dribble through a gate – Go!”

Conditioned games are great for pupils to compete against a passive, semi-passive or active defender. Scaffold the activation level of other pupils according to the age and ability of the learners.


  1. Cool down (Assess)

The cool down should be linked to the learning question and re-focus the learners on the key skills.

A good example would be traffic lights with the basketball.

Eg. “When I say Green, I want you to walk around the space dribbling the basketball. Remember we spread our fingers (signal for all pupils to respond “apart”) and we bounce the ball at (signal for all pupils to respond “Waist height”). When I say orange I want you to hold the basketball in two hands with eyes on me. Go!”

Tip: We can also use the cool down to put the equipment in the right place for the next lesson through games; e.g. – “Once you’ve bounced the ball 100 times, place the basketball on the cone, then sit in this space and discuss x with a person next to you.”

Jazz Rose is a PE teacher and education consultant at J and C AcademyHe tweets at @MrJazzRose and is the author of ‘Teaching Primary PE’