Instructional Considerations for All Physical Activities

Skill Progression

  • Prior to skills instruction, teachers should outline possible risks of the activity and ensure students understand inherent dangers.
  • Teachers should explain and demonstrate how to minimize the risks.
  • Skills should be taught in proper progression. Refer to skill progression resources.
  • Games and activities should be based on skills that are taught.
  • Students should be made aware of the rules of activities or games. It is the duty of the teacher to ensure that his/her instructions are clear, direct and understood by all students.
  • Rules must be enforced.
  • Activities and rules should be modified based on the age, ability, skill level, and previous activity level of students as well as on the facilities and equipment available.
  • Ensure activities are modified to remove body contact.
  • Teachers should stay current with respect to safe activity techniques.

Warm-Up and Cool-Down

  • All activity sessions should include appropriate warm-ups and cool-downs.

Eye Protection

  • Instruction related to eye protection is recommended for all sports. Special consideration should be given to eye protection for students with pre-existing impaired vision.


  • Students should be provided with access to water or water bottles and the opportunity to rehydrate during activity.

Safe Use of Equipment

  • Safety procedures must be clearly outlined to students.
  • Students should be encouraged to report equipment or facility problems to teachers.
  • Potentially dangerous and immovable objects, e.g., goal posts or protruding stage, should be brought to the attention of students.
  • Students should be made aware that the use of equipment and facilities is prohibited without appropriate supervision.

Inclusion of All Students/Adapted Physical Education

  • Teachers should adapt activities to meet the physical and developmental needs of all students to address the learning needs and safety of all participants.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Teachers should inform their students of the locations of fire alarms, fire exits and alternative routes from the gymnasium or activity station.
  • Teachers should inform students about how to behave in case of an emergency, injury, or incident.
  • Universal precautions (e.g., using impermeable gloves) should be followed when dealing with situations involving blood and other bodily fluids.

Teaching for Safety

Class Management

  • Teachers should establish routines, rules of acceptable behaviour and student  responsibility at the beginning of the year. These must be reinforced at all times throughout the year.
  • If the teacher observes unsafe behaviour, they must immediately stop the activity, provide corrective instruction and warn students not to perform that behaviour.
  • Teachers should plan lessons to allow for students’ gradual progress and skill development; stress the importance of rules and regulations promoting safety in all activities; and emphasize a progressive manner of teaching which may include lead-up games, modification of rules to accommodate ability/age/physical development and available equipment.

Student Readiness for Activities

  • At the beginning of each term, teachers must make themselves aware of the medical background and physical limitations of their students. Onus should be on parents to provide teachers with necessary medical information. This includes, but is not limited to, knowledge of students with heart disorders, asthma, epilepsy, diabetes or severe allergies. Each school should develop a process by which medical information is made available to and for teachers.
  • Teachers should be vigilant in preventing students from pressuring one another to try skills or activities for which they are not ready.
  • When a student verbally or nonverbally displays hesitation, the teacher and student should discuss the reason(s) for doubt. If the teacher believes that a potential hesitancy during the skill could put the student at risk, the student should be directed toward a less advanced skill.

Record Keeping

  • Teachers should maintain records of lesson and unit plans to demonstrate that safe progressions have been taught.

Continuing Education

  • Teachers should stay current with respect to safe physical activity techniques and practices.

Special Situations

Substitute Teachers

  • Substitute teachers may be placed into unfamiliar surroundings and in charge of students whose specific skills and limitations are unfamiliar to them. It is therefore recommended that student activities, when under the supervision of a substitute teacher, be limited to those where the risk of injury is low and individual skill levels are not a risk factor. Games and activities should be based on skills that have been taught. The safety guidelines section for the activity should be included with the lesson plan, and substitute teachers should be aware of restrictions and modifications for students with health or behavioural problems. Substitute teachers should be informed of the whereabouts of a contact teacher or administrator in case of an emergency.

Student Teachers

  • Student teachers should not be left to teach an activity alone until the supervisory teacher or principal is confident that the activity will be conducted safely.

Participation with Casts

  • Any student with a playing cast should provide a doctor’s note or parent/guardian signed permission indicating it is safe for him/her to participate.

Equipment and Facilities for All Physical Activities

Pre-Activity Check

  • Teachers should do a pre-activity inspection of facilities and equipment either visually or recorded on a checklist available in the Supplemental Reading section.
  • Facility or equipment hazards should be either repaired or removed or use of the facility or equipment discontinued.
  • Steps should be taken to report hazards to administration so that they can be repaired or removed.

Condition of Facilities

  • An activity area should be free from debris, obstacles, and obstructions and provide safe footing.
  • Appropriate measures to protect students from injury by potentially dangerous and immovable objects such as goal posts, or a protruding stage, should be implemented. Measures may include such things as covering the object with protective padding or relocating the activity.

Condition of Equipment

  • All equipment should be checked prior to each use to ensure it is in proper working order, and free of defects and repaired as necessary.
  • All equipment used must be of a size and mass that is appropriate to the size and strength of the student(s).
  • All students should be required to use protective equipment to prevent reasonably foreseeable injury associated with the activity. Protective equipment should be CSA approved (where applicable), appropriate for the activity and suitably sized.
  • Dental protection should be considered for contact sports.
  • If students are permitted to bring their own equipment (e.g., skis, inline skates) parents and students should ensure that the equipment is in proper working order and suitable for personal use.
  • All equipment should be used only in the manner it was intended and teachers should be aware of the equipment’s purpose, its proper operation, and any manufacturer warnings with respect to improper use.
  • When using any equipment not described in this document, care must be taken to ensure it is safe for use and does not show signs of deterioration, (e.g., no sharp edges, cracks or splinters).

Clothing, Etc.

  • Clothing and footwear suitable for the activity should be worn.
  • Socks are inappropriate footwear for activities requiring foot traction.
  • Wearing jeans or shorts with zippers is not recommended.
  • Shorts or sweatpants without pockets, and t-shirts are examples of appropriate clothing as they allow for proper movement and decrease risk of injury.
  • Swimsuits are appropriate for aquatic activities.
  • Ill-fitting clothing, scarves, draw-strings, and hard soled shoes are not recommended as they can inhibit movement and possibly cause injury during active movement.
  • For activities on ice, long pants and long sleeved shirts are recommended.


Helmets must be worn for the following activities. Refer to the specific activity section for details on circumstances for use and helmet specifications.

  • Broomball
  • Cycling
  • Horseback riding
  • Ice hockey
  • In-line skating, 4-wheel roller-skating
  • Rock climbing
  • Ringette
  • Ice skating
  • Skateboarding, Scootering
  • Skiing (alpine), snowboarding
  • Triathlon (must for cycling portion)

Helmets should be worn for the following activities. Refer to the specific activity section for details on circumstances for use and helmet specifications.

  • Backpacking and day hiking (in areas with falling rock)
  • Ball hockey, floor hockey or gymnasium ringette
  • Canoe tripping
  • Cricket
  • Field hockey
  • Kayaking
  • Softball, T-ball


  • Jewellery, particularly hanging jewelry, should not be worn.
  • Jewellery that cannot be removed, and presents a safety concern, should be covered with tape to reduce chances of entanglement.


  • A suitable device to keep hair from obstructing vision should be used, (e.g., elastic or soft headband). Metal or other hard objects should not be used.

Eye Glasses

  • The wearing of an eyeglass band and/or shatterproof glass or removal of glasses, if vision is adequate, is recommended.
  • Parents/guardians must be made aware of safety precautions regarding eyeglasses for some activities.

Orthotic Devices

  • Metal or other hard braces (e.g., knee brace) should be covered with a protective cover to prevent injury of other participants during activities where contact may occur.

Cultural Dress

  • Where cultural dress presents a safety concern, modifications to the dress should be considered.

Emergency Equipment

  • An appropriate first aid kit should be stocked and accessible.
  • Emergency transportation should be available.
  • Emergency phone must be accessible.
  • A trained individual responsible for providing first aid to injured students should be present during the entire activity.