The importance of Fundamental Movement Skills

posted in: blog, food, parents | 0
Fundamental Movement Skills are the building blocks required to form more generalised, specific sports skills. They are the physical equivalent of spelling and grammar in English, or multiplication and division in Maths. Without mastery of the basic fundamental skills, children will have little to link together to form more complex movement patterns later in life.
The Australian school system have practised and promoted Fundamental Movement Skills for years. Dependent on where you look and which authority you talk to there can be as little as four essential skills to many as 22. At Healthy Heroes we like to keep it simple and promote the development of 12 of the most common, and in our opinion, most important fundamental skills:
  1. Sprint Run
  2. Skip
  3. Hop
  4. Dodge
  5. Leap
  6. Vertical Jump
  7. Underarm Throw
  8. Overarm throw
  9. Catch
  10. Forearm Strike
  11. Kick
  12. Balance
In very simple terms different combinations of these skills can be combined to form more sports specific skills.
Without an effective vertical jump a child would struggle to perform a header in football or catch a high ball in rugby. If a child can’t perform an overarm throw (one of the most underdeveloped fundamental skills by the way) then a child will undoubtedly find any sport where throwing is involved difficult. Look, at one of the basic skills of all, the sprint run. Imagine the barriers to a child who finds this skill difficult. I’m sure you will agree, most sports will be inaccessible.
But what if your child has no interest in sport? What if your child doesn’t want to be the next Ronaldo, or Jessica Ennis, are Fundamental movement skills still important? The short answer, YES!. Studies have shown that proficiency in fundamental movement skills is highly correlated with physical activity and health. Children who are more proficient in Fundamental skills are more likely to choose to be active throughout their lives and pass this positive habit onto their own children. In short :THE MORE CONFIDENT CHILDREN ARE AT MOVING THE MORE LIKELY THEY ARE TO MOVE.
It is sometimes thought that Fundamental Skills, just appear in children. Like crawling, walking, giving cheek and finding farts funny. But they don’t. It can take up to 10hrs of practice to learn a skill to proficiency. Although this could be much longer or shorter depending on child, type of skills and quality of practice. Naturally, this time can’t all be done in school time.
With more children spending time exercising their thumbs on video games, and spending less time outdoors it is logical to assume that less and less time is being spent in active play, learning new skills through trial and error and honing them to proficiency. The strangle hold of academia has squeezed more and more time out of the curriculum for PE and play. Leaving children academically smarter, but less physically literate.
Even though the words fundamental movement skills have been in the in the scientific vocabulary for some time it is only relatively recently rearing it’s head in teaching and parenting circles. Why now? Yep, you got it, 20,30,40 years ago it didn’t need to be. Most Kids were engaged in regular active play almost exclusively outdoors and learning basic skills almost by osmosis. That tree wasn’t going to climb it’s self and when you played knock and run, you really did need to be able to run. If you couldn’t jump the stream you’d get wet and your mum would shout. In addition, long imaginary adventures outdoors didn’t only hone creative and social skills they developed essential physical skills as well. The famous five and secret 7 would have been fundamental masters.
What can we do to help?
This final section was going to be loaded with examples of different activities you can do with your kids to help them develop their fundamentals. But after some thought i decided: 1) the post will be entering the gates of snoozville if it carries on any longer and 2) it makes the concept of Fundamental Movement Skills seem more complicated than it already is.
Here’s my advice to promote fundamental movement skills in your children in less than 50 words ( I think, I haven’t counted)
Let your children run, jump, throw, kick, climb and balance at any given opportunity. Do this outdoors as much as possible and use nature as a playground. Don’t let any negative experiences of physical activity and PE stop your encouragement of it and make active play a positive habit.
If you are a teacher reading this, then the same applies. Be that cool teacher who takes the lesson outside, not everything has to be written down.
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