Child motor development and mastery of fundamental movement skills

What are fundamental movement skills?

Fundamental movement skills (FMS) are the basic skills that children should obtain to assist in mastering specialized movement sequences needed to take part in many organized and non-organized physical activities1,2.

Some of the FMS that have been identified can be divided into three categories. Figure 1 below lists these fundamental movement skills3.


By what age should children develop their FMS?

The early years of school education, particularly the primary school years, have been recognised as the times when children are most receptive to learning and developing these fundamental skills. For example, between the ages of 7-8 years, children would be expected to be capable of the less complex FMS, such as catching and vertical jumping, while they would be expected to be capable of more complex FMS (e.g., leaping, hopping, striking) by ages 9-10 years3.


Why do children need to develop their fundamental movement skills?

Mastering FMS has been shown to help children’s physical, cognitive, and social development and provides the foundation for an active lifestyle. Children may naturally develop some rudimentary forms of these skills, but a more complete form of FMS aptitude is more likely achieved with practice, encouragement, feedback and guidance from trained instructors. Children who do not receive adequate motor skill instructions and practice may demonstrate developmental delays in their gross motor abilities1. In addition, there is evidence that modern preschool children might be less physically active than expected, and there are increasing indications that early childhood lifestyle can have an effect on later disease risk1.

There is also strong evidence showing associations between FMS proficiency and multiple aspects of health-related physical fitness such as cardiorespiratory fitness, musculoskeletal fitness and body composition, as well as social and psychological benefits, all of which are thought to provide the foundation for an active lifestyle4.

Therefore, the development of movement skills should be a key component of early childhood education.


Biokineticists can assist with FMS training in children

Biokineticists are trained in the science of movement and as part of this training, they are taught to not only work with adults with chronic conditions or those with sports injuries, but also to apply science to improve physical functioning of children, to fully unlock their fundamental movement skills and to assist in their health promotional development. Biokineticists are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa and the Biokinetics Association of South Africa.

For more information on how you can help your child develop these vitally important fundamental movement skills, please contact Esmiralda on 0824607627 or alternatively you can send a mail to




1 Lubans DR, Morgan PJ, Cliff DP, Barnett LM, Okely AD. Fundamental movement skills in children and adolescents. Sports medicine. 2010 Dec;40(12):1019-35.

2 Rainer P, Jarvis S. Fundamental movement skills and their relationship with measures of health-related physical fitness of primary school children prior to secondary school transition: A Welsh perspective. Education 3-13. 2020 Jan 2;48(1):54-65.

3 Rainer P, Jarvis S. Fundamental Movement Skills: Are they a “Fundamental” part of a young child’s Physical Education? USW Sports Blogs. Weblog. [Online] Available from: [Accessed 1 March 2021].

4 Fisher AB, Reilly JJ, Kelly LA, Montgomery CO, Williamson AV, Paton JY, Grant ST. Fundamental movement skills and habitual physical activity in young children. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Apr 1;37(4):684-8.