Olympic sports to plan into your Programme

Olympics Blog

Carry the Olympic spirit throughout the year by including these exciting sports in your Programme.   

The Olympics 2016 is here and for 16 days we are invited to watch the world’s best athletes challenge themselves to break records and earn medals. In September we will be keeping our eyes glued to our TV screens as our favourite super-humans compete in the Paralympics.

Here are a few Olympic and Paralympic sports that you can do with your young people in Scouting.


Archery teaches you how to aim with precision. You may not hit the bullseye on your first few tries, but it is exciting when you do! The sport was first played in the Olympics during the 1900 games. After a lengthy hiatus, it was brought back in 1972 and has gained popularity since. Interestingly, para-archery was the first sport wheelchair athletes could compete in.

Scout Groups can take part in this activity at our activity centres and Scottish National Activity Centres. An adult member with the correct permit can also lead it. You can find all the information you need about acquiring an archery permit here. All Scout sections can take part in this sport. Find out more about archery in Great Britain on the National Governing Body’s website.    

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Horse riding

There are three different types of horse riding events in the Olympics and Paralympics. These include Equestrian Jumping, Equestrian Eventing and Equestrian Dressage. Each of these sports requires both the rider and horse to prove their ability. They spend time developing a relationship and the skills that they need to win competitions. Your Group can enjoy an Olympic-like experience by going on a horse trek somewhere local to you. They will learn how to control their horse and look after it.  Use the British Horse Society directory to find horse riding near you. 

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Test your reflexes with a game of fencing! This ancient sport is an excellent cardio workout that will get your whole body moving. It’s an easy activity you can plan into your Programme at any time of the year. While inside the Scout hut, use foam or plastic swords as alternatives to authentic fencing swords. For real training, why not organise a trip to a local fencing club? British Fencing has a list of clubs across Great Britain for you to visit, including wheelchair fencing

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Introduced into the Olympics at the 1964 Tokyo games and at the Paralympics in Seoul in 1988, judo is a modern martial art rooted in moral education. It’s a mentally and physically stimulating sport that will teach your young people balance, flexibility and focus. An adult volunteer who knows the sport well can organise training for an evening, or you can hire a professional. However you decide to run the activity, it is crucial that you carry out the appropriate risk assessments. 

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Take on the water and wind by trying to master the art of sailing! Experienced sailors know how to control their boat regardless of the weather and turbulent waters. Sailing in the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is constantly evolving to reflect the changes made to the design of boats. Fancy running this yourself? Find out more about the adventurous permit scheme and how to gain a sailing permit. Visit Lochgoilhead activity centre in Scotland or other activity centres around the country to give your Group a taste of being on the water.        

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Sailing V2


Be Prepared for Tokyo 2020

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced five extra sports that will be included in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, so why not get ahead of the game by incorporating these newly added Olympic sports into your Scouting programme.

Sport Climbing

Athletes will have to compete in three disciplines; Bouldering, Speed Climbing and Lead Climbing. Why not visit an activity centre or local climbing centre to learn the ropes? You should have enough time between now and 2020 to not only gain your climbing permit, but to qualify for Tokyo!


Find a surfing centre or head to a beach near you to master riding the waves. Find out what happened when Explorer Scouts from Stenek Ha’n Mor District in Cornwall took up surfing as a team activity.


Did you know that Softball is a modified form of baseball with seven innings instead of nine, as well as underarm bowling? Baseball and softball are brilliant games to play with a large group of young people. The next time you are attending a District or County camp, consider organising a game against other Groups or sections. 


Just like Judo, an adult volunteer who knows the sport well can lead a karate session. Or you can ask a professional trainer to come along to your meeting place for an evening. 

There are many other Olympic-related sports that your Scouts can get involved in. Take a look at our A-Z of Activities for inspiration, information and guidance.  You can organise Olympic activities that are not mentioned in the activity rules. To do this, take a look at POR rule 9.77 and speak to your District or County team for support.

Top tips

Tip 1: Plan ahead to make sure every young person of all abilities in your Group can take part in Scouting activities.

Tip 2: Speak to activity centres and external providers to find out how accessible their activities are before booking.

Tip 3: If you’re organising these activities, why not assign different countries to individuals taking part and colour in flags for them to wear when competing? This will help them work towards their International Activity Badges!


Looking for more activities to plan for your future Programme? Take a look at these: 

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