What to buy for school sports lessons

From age five to when children reach their GCSEs, the UK government has clear guidelines about what sports lessons should be doing to help your child. A key part of the P.E. curriculum is that P.E. lessons “should provide opportunities for pupils to become physically confident in a way which supports their health and fitness”. Every school will provide different sports activities appropriate to the age and interests of your child, but this purpose remains the same – for children to become physically confident while also feeling fit and healthy.

For this reason, it’s important to choose sportswear with care. It needs to be comfortable so they can move around easily and feel confident to do so. It needs to be suitable for the activities they’re doing so they feel in the right mindset, as well as being safe and appropriate. Finally, it needs to be easy to look after – if your child throws themselves into sports, their sports uniform goes along with them, and will see its fair share of rough and tumble.

Although sportswear is, in general, a little more comfortable and ‘relaxed’ than regular school uniform, it’s still important to pay attention to sizing and ensure you get items which fit your child well so they feel as confident as possible in what they’re doing. Take your child’s waist, hip, chest and height measurements, and use these to select the most appropriately sized sportswear items. Avoid buying anything too big because they’ll ‘grow into it’; the likelihood is that they’ll trip over jogging bottoms that are too long before they have time to fill them out.

And while it may not be the first thing on your mind when buying school uniform, the sustainability of the sportswear you buy is important. That’s because sportswear is often made from fabrics that release microfibres – tiny cloth fibres which make their way into the ocean and harm wildlife. Higher quality sportswear is less likely to shed microfibres, no matter how much you wash it.

Speak to your child’s school about what their sportswear guidelines are; they may ask for certain colours or have a preferred supplier you can buy from. Here are some basic items it’s likely every child will need.

Polo shirts

A simple polo shirt is a staple for sportswear uniforms. Often these are white but your child’s school may have specific colours they want children to wear, particularly if they are on a school team. Choose a polo shirt that’s not too tight, so it doesn’t chafe, and in a cotton or polyester-cotton mix. This will make it breathable while also being easy to wash.

Sports shorts or a skirt

Younger children will probably all need to wear sports shorts for P.E. lessons. These could be cycling shorts or more like football shorts – check what the school recommends for maximum comfort and movement. Older children might need specific ‘kit’ shorts or a sports skirt, depending on the activities they’re taking part in. These should be high quality and durable, as they’re likely to get dirty and need washing frequently.

Jogging bottoms and sweatshirt

A comfortable pair of jogging bottoms and matching sweatshirt are likely to be on the school’s uniform list, especially for older children and those on sports teams. Check the school’s recommendations for these, as you may need to get jogging bottoms made from technical sportswear fabrics if your child will be exercising in these; this fabric is more breathable and will wick away moisture.

Specialist items

If your child gets onto a sports team, you may need to invest in specialist sportswear that’s designed for their activity. This might include things like sports socks, pleated gym skirts, swimming costumes or football boots. You’ll be able to buy most specialist sportswear uniform from a reputable school uniform supplier, so see if the school has one they would recommend.