Building an Intramural Program Program Leadership
Intramural programs can be delivered in a variety of ways. Every school has their own unique needs and issues when it comes to delivering an intramural program. Issues such as lack of facilities, supervision and timetable have a direct impact on the type of program that can succeed.
Some of the different types of intramural programs include:
- The traditional intramural program consisting of organized leagues, teams and schedules
An open intramural program consisting of a variety of ‘open gym’ activities focussing more on ‘free play’
- The occasional intramural program consisting of selected days to have large scale intramural activities
- The Raise the Bar ‘own a ball’ program where students can sign out a ball at lunch/after school to play with; this program is especially important in secondary
- schools with two or three lunch periods The Raise the Bar Friday Night intramural program where the gymnasium is set aside every Friday after school for intramural activities
The following is a description of each type of intramural program and how they can be organized and implemented.
The Traditional Intramural Program The Open Gym Intramural Program
Depending on the school elementary or secondary it will require one of two teachers to lead the organization and implementation of the intramural program. The supervision of the intramural program should not solely be the responsibility of health and physical education teachers. The supervision and advisory role of intramurals should be part of the overall school plan to get students involved.
The supervision of daily intramurals should be included as part of the schools supervision package. Several schools have done this in similar fashion to the supervision of halls, cafeteria, or other school areas. These schools have cited no problems with this type of supervision. Schools in the Wellington Catholic and Kawartha Pine Ridge school boards, among others have successful intramural programs with this type of supervision model.
However, in most boards supervision of intramurals is not considered a duty. Teachers who do so, volunteer their time at lunch or during recess and nutrition breaks. The challenge is always to find more staff to assist in the supervision.
If possible, students should be encouraged to go into the gymnasium to watch the intramural activities during lunch. This will decrease the number of students that would be in other supervision areas like the hallways or cafeteria and in addition, justify the use of a teacher supervisor in this area. Allowing students into the gymnasium at lunch also helps create a very positive, vibrant setting for these activities. It is not uncommon to have 200 - 300 students watching the games and activities at lunch.
Allowing students into the gymnasium to watch will be dependent on the size of the gym, appropriate areas to sit, supervision, comfort level of the teacher in charge and the age of the students.
It is imperative that the school administration supports the intramural program. Intramurals are an excellent way to get more students involved which helps promote a school atmosphere that is positive for everyone.
Under the 'benefits' link there is a sample intramural proposal form that could be used to present to the school administration.
Matt (left) and Andy (right) are the current and former presidents of the St James Catholic High School athletic council. They apply for the position in May and get elected by the student population. Working with the staff advisors, their main responsibility is to oversee the operation of the intramural program.
Intramural Program Leadership Students
Student leadership is critical to the success of the intramural program. The student council for elementary schools and the athletic council or student sports association should take a central role in the organization and implementation of the intramural program. Some secondary schools have used their grade twelve health and physical education leadership classes to run the program. However, most schools have only one section of this class. Therefore, there is always one semester where intramurals are not supervised and therefore are not offered. To be a consistent, viable program, intramural programs need year round supervision.
The best model to achieve this is to have an athletic council or an intramural council.
St. James Catholic High School in Guelph runs a very successful athletic council. Please see attachment as to how they operate their council. See a sample here (PDF file will open).
The number of students you choose for your council should depend on how often you plan to run the intramurals. A recommended approach is to have 3 students per day of intramurals. If you plan to run intramurals for three days/week then you would have 9 students on your council.
To run a successful intramural program, student responsibilities could be organized as follows:
Public Relations students will need to be a daily fixture on the morning announcements informing the students and staff about upcoming intramural games and activities. These announcements are very important as they provide a consistent message about the program. Students should also create posters highlighting upcoming events and organize an intramural bulletin board.
Organization students could be responsible for assisting the staff in supervising the gym during games and activities. The students can also deal with any equipment set up and take down in the gym before and after games. This will allow the teacher on supervision duty to focus on the supervision of the area. The athletic council, working with their staff advisor can organize a weekly schedule for this supervision, set up and take down.
Officiating students in both elementary and secondary school are capable of officiating most intramural games. This creates an excellent leadership and learning opportunity for not only the students on the athletic council but also for the students involved in the games. Activities run by students for students can be a very positive situation.
Stephanie, Chris, Michelle and Kelsey (below) are members of the St. James Catholic High School athletic council. This picture was taken in the gym at lunch during the intramural activities.
Signing Up for Games and Activities:
The student’s should have the responsibility to organize the sign-ups for the various intramural games and activities. At the elementary and secondary level, sign-ups should be organized in leagues dependant on grade or age:
Primary Elementary grades 1 3
Junior Elementary grades 4 6
Senior Elementary grades 7 8
Junior Secondary grades 9 10
Senior Secondary - grades 11 12
Open Girls - grades 9 12*
*depending on the success of the sign-ups you may be able to divide the girls’ teams into junior and senior divisions
This breakdown will allow students to play against students their own age and ability. In addition, these divisions will decrease the chance of injury and increase the chances of having fun, competitive games and activities.
Students should sign up their own teams and be encouraged to sign up as a group. Teams should consist of between 6 10 members to allow for more involvement. Please see examples of sign sheets at the end of this section. See sample sign up sheet (PDF file will open). Competitive balance is not an issue when students sign up on their own. The schedule should always have teams of similar ability playing each other.
The sign up period should last about one week with frequent public relations reminders of the sign up period. Some other guidelines to consider include:
- During sign up periods have an OPEN gym for a week where students can play unorganized games like basketball, indoor soccer and dodge ball; provide opportunities for junior students and girls to get involved as senior students often take over on open gym days
- Once the sign ups have concluded, post team lists for all divisions as well as the first weekly schedule
- Students are allowed to make additions or deletions to their team; they must inform the staff supervisor of any changes
- No one is allowed to play on more than one team at the same time
Depending on the length of your lunch break, schedule two games per lunch; this will work even with a 40 minute lunch break
- If there are many teams, divide the gym into two and play four games per lunch break; this will maximize student participation
- Students need to be in class on time after lunch or possibly forfeit their status as an intramural participant
Games and Activities:
The games and activities that you offer must represent the philosophy of intramurals anyone can play regardless of skill level and still have fun. Therefore, it is imperative that games of low organization, mass participation and minimum need for previous experience are chosen.
Below is an example of a year long intramural schedule at a secondary school:
|September October (6 weeks)
Touch Football (outside)
|October November (6 weeks)
|December (3 weeks)
||Basketball - 4 on 4; only 1 varsity player/team
|January (2 weeks)
||Open Gym Activities
|February March Break (6 weeks)
|March April (6 weeks)
|May June (5 weeks)
||Open Gym Activities or another major game
(badminton, volleyball, etc.)
Please see the Games and Activities link for more information.
At the end of the school year, the intramural program should be evaluated by the athletic council as well as staff advisors; discussions should be centred around:
- The success of the activities offered; do we need to add something else? Should we drop an activity?
- Any issues around discipline and behaviour of the participants and spectators.
- Any issues around the state of the gymnasium. Was it too messy with food scraps and garbage? What can we do to make it better?
- Was supervision adequate?
- How can we get more kids involved? Was there one particular age group that did not participate?
- Begin laying the groundwork for September.
Some schools do a survey of the student body to determine which activities would be most popular. This is a very effective way of meeting the needs of the students. See sample survey (PDF file will open).
The OPEN GYM/DROP IN intramural Program
An alternative to running the traditional organized intramural program is the open gym or drop in program. This style of program is easier to organize with less paper work and scheduling for the teachers. You would still utilize your student leaders to set up equipment, put it away and make announcements.
See below for an example,
Tuesday lunch is drop in basketball for Junior Students
Thursday lunch is drop in dodgeball for Intermediate Students - next week,
Tuesday lunch is drop in soccer for Primary Students
Thursday lunch is drop in floor hockey for Junior Students
The benefits of a drop in style is that there is little organization involved. You schedule an activity for a particular age group and then announce that anyone in those grades can 'drop in' to the gym and play. You do not have to be concerned about attendance, scores or standings. You can focus on participation.
The drop in program has proven to be very effective for elementary and secondary schools and for every age/division. The key to success is to change the activity on a regular basis so that you attract students from a wide variety of interests. In addition, DO NOT let the athletic students take over and dominate the floor, choose activities and make modifications so that every student can have fun.
Raise the Bar Own a Ball/Bring a BallProgram
This particular program idea is especially useful for secondary schools that have timetable issues. Schools with double and triple lunch periods have no space at lunch for traditional intramural programs. But there are ways to get students involved, even with this major barrier.
The ‘own a ball’ program would be used to encourage students on any lunch period to play and be more active. In addition, students who are busy at lunch engaged in positive, healthy activities are much less likely to be a disturbance. This program also allows students of any skill to play in a setting that they choose this is very positive.
Students would be allowed to ‘borrow’ a ball from the either the health and physical education office or another designated area in the school. The student would sign the ball ‘out’ for the duration of the lunch period. This will allow the students to create their own games of touch football, soccer, basketball, volleyball, hackie sack, ultimate Frisbee, etc.
As part of the signing out process, students would leave their student card as assurance for them to return the ball in good condition and on time. In addition, students should be made aware that by not bringing the ball back they would be liable to pay for a replacement ball. In addition, failure to bring the ball back could result in that student not being allowed to sign out another ball.
The idea of loaning out a ball at lunch is not new. For those schools that have difficulties with time and space to offer intramurals, this program offers an achievable alternative.
See a sample survey (PDF file will open).
Raise the Bar - Friday Night Intramurals
Secondary schools that have timetable issues with two or three lunch periods have no facilities at lunch to run an intramural program.
A viable option is to set aside one night after school solely for intramural games, sports and activities. Most school districts do not play league games or practice on Friday night - this creates an opening for intramural activities.
These nights could be supervised by a coach looking to get a 'jump' on their season by offering open gym basketball, volleyball, badminton, etc. Or this night could be supervised by a staff or community volunteer just looking to get more kids active and involved.