• I need my sports hall to comply with Sport England. How do I acheive this?

    We are frequently presented with the statement from architects or builders that "my sports hall must comply with Sport England".  This causes many concerns, problems, lack of clarity and potentially huge additional cost when it is not clear how you should comply and with what.

    The main design guidance issued by Sport England is the document "Sports Halls Design & Layouts, updated and combined guidance".  Continental have had some input into this document and it is clear from discussions with the author that the document is "guidance" rather than "the law".  The document is written by Sport England taking account of the various guidance given to it by the different sports' National Governing Bodies and that information is condensed into a single set of guidance notes.

    Most of the document is an excellent guide, but as it has developed over time, various internal inconsistencies have arisen and various conflicts between different statements within the document.  For example, the basketball court design has been updated to show the changes to the FIBA compliant court that was adopted in October 2010, but that court hasn't been reflected in the standard combined court layouts shown towards the end of the document.

    We therefore recommend that this guide is taken as the starting point for any requirements and if you have concerns that something cannot be complied with please contact us for discussions and we can pass on our experience of how other facilities have dealt with similar situations.

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  • I want roof mounted basketball goals but these breach 7.6m clear height. Is this permissible?

    The most common contravention of the Sport England guidelines that we see (on an almost daily basis) is that sports halls are designed to have 7.6m of clear space above the finished floor, but insufficient space is left between the top of that clear space and the underside of the roof beams, lights and M&E services to allow for the storage depth of stored roof mounted basketball goals.

    We have seen inumerable instances of builders and architects switching from their clients' preference for roof mounted goals and opting for wall mounted goals because there would have been a breach of the 7.6m clear height.

    Our usual advice is to consider exactly what the ultimate client will be using the hall for.  7.6m of clear height is determined by England Badminton as the height they require above badminton courts for recreational play.  If the folded basketball goals breach that height then is that breach sufficient to impact on the level of badminton that will take place in the hall? - the answer is ususally not.

    For example if it is mainly used for schools then 7.6m is actually quite a height to hit a shuttlecock, and having the edge of a folded basketball goal protruding to say 7.5m is unlikely to adversely impact the users of the hall.  If the community will use the hall then it is only designed for recreational badminton players (a facility for county level players would need 9.1m of clear height).

    If the client insists on the 7.6m of clear height, then it is often sufficient that the central two badminton courts (in a 4-court hall) can be clear to 7.6m even if the end two have the "restricted" height caused by the folded goals.

    The next height criteria is for other team sports such as basketball and volleyball and 7m of clear height is suitable for all other such sports in a standard hall at recreational level.  Therefore we would always suggest a pragmatic consideration of the nature of the users, the priority of the sports, and the importance of badminton is taken before opting to provide a second choice of basketball goal just to maintain the 7.6m guidance height.


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  • Will Sport England give me a derogation if I can't quite achieve 7.6m of clear height?

    Not normally.  The guidance is just that - guidance - and buildings should be designed to achieve the guidance if that is what is required.  In our experience Sport England will not officially sanction a derogation to their guidance for one particular facility (otherwise they would effectively have to change their guidance for everyone).

    However if an unforeseen circumstance or an overlooked design issue results in no practical solution other than a modest breach in the clear height of 7.6m then they are likely to point out the pragmatic impact of a modest breach would be minimal (but don't expect to get that in writing!)

    We recently undertook a project where the location of a vent meant that all the cricket netting trackways had to be 7.55m to their underside rather than 7.6m.  To change that would have meant an extra cost of £20,000 and delays to the opening of the facility.  The client, architect and builder team decided to take the pragmatic option of accepting this breach - the 50mm was agreed to be immaterial to any envisaged usage of the facility, especially as the trackway was only 40mm wide and the space around the track was all above 7.6m

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  • What does Sport England say about store rooms?

    Sports hall stores - Sport England recommendationsSport England's design guidance recommends the storeroom is 12.5% of the area of the sports hall.

    This is an excellent piece of advice.  We have never found a hall that complies with this guidance to have too little storage space.

    The guidance provided by Sport England is available in the briefing note shown to the right:

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  • My court line markings must comply with Sport England. Can you do this?

    We advise taking the Sport England guidance as a starting point and then taking into account various other matters which include:

    • Special features of the hall
    • Common practice
    • Conflicts between different National Governing Bodies
    • The trade off between hall size and court size with recommended run-offs

    For example, the Sport England guidance document shows the "old style" basketball court rather than the one adopted by FIBA from October 2010.  Whilst the old style court is still compliant until August 2012 we would always recommend specifying the new layout.

    Run-offs in a standard 4-court hall (33m x 18m) are often contentious and always confusing.  For example, five a side recommends no run-off (i.e. there is not seen to be any excessive risk in running at the walls), whereas basketball wants 1m run-offs with the old style court but 2m with the new style court (but will accept 1.5m to fit a standard court in a 4-court hall), and netball (a sport where the players aren't allowed to run with the ball) requires huge 3m run-offs around the court - so a standard netball court size of 30.5m x 15.25m must be reduced to a much smaller 27m x 12m (i.e. 30% smaller) court to fit in a 33m x 18m hall.

    Many of our customers choose to adopt the guidelines on run-offs on health and safety grounds, but others (having undertaken their own risk assesments) prefer to have larger courts.

    We produce line marking drawings on a daily basis and if you choose Continental to produce your drawing (and hopefully undertake the line markings as well) we will ensure your drawing complies as far as possible with the requirements of the National Governing Bodies and we will point out where we recommend a divergence from any guidance so that you can decide how to proceed.

    We often receive comments and questions on our line marking drawings and have included specific advice / comments on each sport's lines in answers to separate questions.

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  • Why haven't you shown the perimeter on my five a side court?

    Sport England shows a perimeter line to the five a side court.  However in the rules of the game the walls are "in-play" therefore the perimeter line is theoretical and not required (or possible to draw in practice) and is therefore left out as a matter of course.

    This is not the case for futsal where there is a run-off outside the court so perimeter lines are needed for that sport.

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  • Why haven't you shown a standard size netball court?

    A standard netball court is 30.5m x 15.25m for all levels of play.  In a standard 33m x 18m 4-court hall, this would give a 1.25m run-off at the ends of the court and a 1.375m run-off at the sides of the court.

    Those run-offs used to be acceptable to the All England Netball Association and most halls in the UK have a standard dimension netball court.  1-2 years ago the AENA guidance changed to specify 3m of run-off around the court which means the largest court that can fit in a 33m x 18m hall is 27m x 12m - i.e. approximately 30% smaller than a standard court.

    We show a compliant court on our proposal drawings but many of our customers choose (presumably having undertaken risk assesments) to revert to shorter run-offs and a standard, more practical size court.

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  • Sport England offset the volleyball court in their example layout. Why haven't you?

    The purpose of the offset volleyball court is to enable volleyball to be played over 3 badminton courts and something else played over the end badminton court.  This is only possible if you have specified a division net to divide 3 badminton courts from 1.  This means having the typical central divider curtain but also having a second divider curtain at the 25:75 position.

    If you specify the second divider we will offset your volleyball court, but if you haven't specified one we will show it centrally to even out the run-offs at the ends of the court.

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  • Why does your drawing show the basketball court as 15.1m x 28.1m?

    The guidance from Sport England shows the basketball court as 28m x 15m.  However basketball is the only sport that specifies the dimensions to the inside of the lines rather than the outside of the lines.  We re-state the dimensions to show all courts to the outside dimensions and therefore we show basketball courts as 15.1m x 28.1m to allow for the 50mm thick lines.

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  • Your drawing doesn't show a compliant width between badminton courts. Why?

    The Sport England guidance is to have 1.2m at the side of a badminton court to a division net, and 1.5m space between parallel courts without a division net between them.

    In a 33m long 4-court hall you can therefore fit in 4 badminton courts with one division net and be fully compliant.  However if you add any other division nets (e.g. it is not unusual to have a division net to separate an end badminton court from the others) then you cannot use that second (or third) division net and remain compliant with the need to effectively have a 2.4m space between those courts (i.e. 1.2m either side of the curtain).

    Therefore if you have more than one division net in a 33m long 4-court hall you can only be compliant on the space between courts if playing badminton with the central division net drawn.  The space between the other courts is compliant as long as the other division net(s) is not used whilst badminton is being played.


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