Movement Literacy


Physical literacy has previously been defined as “the development of fundamental movement skills and fundamental sport skills that permit an individual to move competently and with control, in a wide range of physical activity, rhythmic (dance) and sport situations” (31). Physical literacy has been proposed by numerous authors to be of high importance in understanding the level of movement competence for an individual athlete. Foundational movements are developed during infancy where the framework for later movement complexity is learnt. Current research by Kritz (38) has reviewed movement efficiency as a screening tool, and provided some excellent feedback into the significance of movement competency screening. Kritz (38) noted that screening information may prove valuable prior to designing exercise prescriptions for the purpose of enhancing the communication lines between a range of professionals working with an athlete to ensure that training programs accommodate an individual athletes’ movement ability and that the training adaptation contributes more to the performance than the associated mechanisms of injury. Tompsett et al. (58) reported the significance of physical literacy assessment, where higher levels of functional capability where associated with lifelong participation in physical activity, health benefits and sporting success. Tompsett et al. (58) stated “pinpointing movement inefficiencies and applying relevant interventions could encourage increased physical activity, participation and enhanced sports performance”. Tompsett et al. (58) noted that previously there have been significant inabilities of physical education providers and coaching staff to correctly assess and measure physical literacy, where McKean (42) also suggested that to improve a coach’s understanding of assessment, research staff are required to ascertain performance indicators for movement competency which correctly identify appropriate physical literacy.

Giles (30) an author well known in the field of physical literacy suggested a system of exercise streams. The exercise streams included a range of exercise qualities where a developmental athlete should have a minimum requirement across a range of abilities. The abilities comprise functional qualities such as: stability / flexibility / lunging / stepping / running fundamentals / acceleration fundamentals / agility fundamentals / rolling / safety falls / regaining feet / pushing / pulling / shoulder stability and control / squatting. He noted that development of an extensive movement vocabulary is a primary requirement of a young athlete, and that the coach’s intention must be to establish competence across all streams to minimise particular advancement in one area if there are weaknesses in others.

From the information presented over a number of years and through various practical applications the emphasis of a system of physical literacy competence with coaching has been consistently shown to have high importance with long-term athlete development and the further enhancement of FMD.


Early years Body shaping, taking weight on hands, balance on feet, rolling progressions, safety falls, regaining feet

Stability Special bracing, horizontal, vertical, dynamic

Flexibility Upper body, lower body, trunk

Squat Double leg, single leg

Clean Teaching progressions

Lunge Simple lunge, walking lunge, 360 lunge, complex lunge

Step up Alternate leg, same leg, high knee, and lateral

Jumping Fundamentals, horizontal, vertical

Running fundamentals Flexibility and drills

Acceleration fundamentals Posture exercises, starting positions

Agility fundamentals Short / long distance drills

Pushing Horizontal and vertical

Pulling Horizontal and vertical

Trunk Special bracing, flexion, extension, rotation

Shoulder stability and control N/a

Medicine ball exercises Upper / lower body and trunk

General movement development Hip / trunk / shoulder strength, tumbling, vaulting

Table 1. Adaptation of The Exercise Streams. Giles (30).


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