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Play by the rules

Jim Merrett shows refs and umpires where to find net help

Spring approaches and children will welcome the chance to get outside and enjoy rounders, athletics and other outdoor activities.

However, with class teachers generally having to referee and umpire, it helps if they know the rules of the game or at least where to find them.

For many activities undertaken by a class, the exact rules may not be important, particularly with regard to team size, and in complex games it may be best to introduce a few rules at a time. However, when playing against other schools, or even inter-class or inter-house, it will save argument if teachers have access to the correct rules. They might even find that such knowledge wins their team a few extra points.


The English Schools' Athletic Association provides rules, details of events and has a special section for primary schools. For instance, it gives recommended sprinting distances: Year 3, 40m; Years 4 and 5, 60m; Year 6, 7580m. For hurdles 59-61cm height for Years 5 and 6 is recommended. There are also suggested distances for relay, cross-country and other distance events, along with details of long-jump, high-jump and throwing. Safety information is also provided.

Northern Ireland:

Scottish Schools' Athletic Association: Welsh Athletics:


The England and Wales Cricket Board provides information about coaching in the Grassroots section and also information about Qwikcricket. Suitable for age five upwards, the site provides an introduction to the game, details of equipment required and how to play. There is a bronze, silver and gold award scheme, linked to the national curriculum at key stages 1 and 2.

For full details of the laws of cricket, see: www.lords.orgcricketlaws.asp


The National Rounders Association has a useful, abridged version of the rules on its site. A few points from it: team size should be between six and 15 with no more than nine on the field at any one time from each team; no ball is called if the ball reaches the batter above the head or below the knee; a half rounder is scored for two consecutive no balls to the same batter; one rounder is scored if the fourth post is reached on a no ball.


The British Schools' Orienteering Association provides information about the activity, school events and a fairly comprehensive Help for Teachers'

section. There is an award scheme and details are provided of permanent courses.


Few primary schools have a tennis court, which could be why few British players reach the Wimbledon finals. The Lawn Tennis Association not only explains the rules, but also how to go about building a court. As a full-size court might be rather too challenging for many children, the site also provides details of mini-tennis, a junior version of the game, aimed at ages four to 10. Information on Robinsons JNR Tennis, a coaching scheme, can also be found.

Swimming The website of the English Schools' Swimming Association provides information on forthcoming events and results of past championships. There is also a link to the Amateur Swimming Association where rules of racing can be found. There are also details other pool-based activities. Jim Merrett is an ICT advisor

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