Cocurricular & Extracurricular Activities in Physical Education

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

In this lesson we review physical education classes, including the roles that cocurricular and extracurricular activities play in both supplementing and complementing the standard curriculum.

Activities Beyond the Curricular

A standard physical education class usually consists of an emphasis on competition and traditional sports such as basketball and dodgeball. However, nascent research suggests that a more well-rounded approach that emphasizes cooperation and includes even nontraditional sports activities such as folk dance may have its merits as well.

Curricular activities (CA's) are ones that are part of a standard school curriculum. Cocurricular activities (CCA's) are ones that are outside of the school curriculum, but complement and supplement it. Extracurricular activities (ECA's) are ones that are completely outside the school curriculum. It should be duly noted that while there are federal education standards, these categories can vary from state to state and even from locality to locality. There can also be some overlap.


Some of a school's fundamental goals that it could strive for by adding curricular and extracurricular activities include:

  • Contributing to society
  • Managing one'e self and emotions
  • Participating in society
  • Relating to others
  • Thinking outside the box
  • Using language and related characters

Roles and Purposes

Why cocurricular?

While in the past some critics have dismissed cocurricular activities as fluff that do not add to a student's education, today many are seeing some of the values they offer. For example, these activities force the student to learn how to cooperate with other students to solve tasks and achieve goals. This can also provide an important sense of belongingness. Engaging in games and sports teaches a student how to try his best, and how to be a good sport when he loses.

Cocurricular activities tend to be more informal than curricular activities. During a curricular activity students tend to read about a specific concept, while in cocurricular activities the students tend to be active participants in the said concept. For example, while in class students may read about Irish folk dancing, but after class students may wear the native garb of the Irish, play music, and actually dance along.

Cocurricular and extracurricular activities allow for students to both exercise and learn about other cultures, such as the beautiful colors of Peruvian folk dancers

Building Character

Many students are lacking in self-esteem and self-confidence. These pursuits can give the students feelings of confidence that may carry over to other aspects of life and may follow them into adulthood. Being physically fit has also been linked to a better perceived body image, and is believed to help control a list of potentially deadly physical ailments from high blood pressure to diabetes.

Intramural Activities and Clubs

These activities tend to emphasize personal improvement and include cross country, swimming and track and field. They allow for large numbers of participants, tend to be safer than contact sports, and generally require less amounts of school space and equipment. They also tend to involve less mental pressure and allow students to still participate in art and music. Furthermore, cocurricular and extracurricular activities in physical education class can be a lot of fun, and offer there own set of surprising challenges and rewards. And if that is not enough, many studies suggest that physical activity can improve a student's discipline and academic performance.

Relay for Life

One of the most common ways that students can participate in cocurricular and extracurricular activities that involve physical activity is through the Relay for Life program. These events have the dual benefit of not only allowing high school students to be physically active, but also to work with the community to benefit the American Cancer Society. The middle school program goes by the moniker of Relay Field Day. In addition, at the elementary school level is the Relay Recess program.

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