07 October 2021

It’s Research Thursday.

Behan and colleagues looked at the Fundamental Movement Skill (FMS) development in 2000 Irish primary school children aged between 5 and 12 years. We know that FMS have a significant impact on levels of physical activity participation into adolescence and adulthood.

The results found that improvements in FMS proficiency can be seen up until the age of 10 and then after the age of 10 performance of FMS starts to decline. 60% of children mastered or were near mastery in balance skills, while just over half mastered the locomotor and object control skills. Run was the skill most children had mastered (75%) and overarm throw the least (16%). Girls scored higher in balance and locomotor skills.

What does this mean?

Most interestingly these results show a decline in FMS after the age of 10. This is worrying as with only 50% of students mastering the FMS at this age this will have an impact on physical activity levels in adolescence and adulthood. This highlights the importance of FMS development in early childhood and prompts discussion on how FMS development should be supported after the age of 10 years. The results also further support the idea that girls and boys develop FMS differently.

Take home message

This study highlights the need to focus on FMS development in early childhood. With only half of children mastering FMS by the age of 10 this is alarming as children who have not mastered FMS are less likely to be active due to a lack of basic movement skills. Incorporating FMS development into later primary school and high school programs should also be considered to prevent the decline seen here.

Stephen Behan, Sarahjane Belton, Cameron Peers, Noel E O’Connor & Johann Issartel (2019) Moving Well-Being Well: Investigating the maturation of fundamental movement skill proficiency across sex in Irish children aged five to twelve, Journal of Sports Sciences, 37:22, 2604-2612, DOI: 10.1080/02640414.2019.1651144