Updated: Aug 10, 2020
"I see boys when they arrive at our academy and it seems obvious to me that despite being the best young footballers there are, many of them are lacking in what I can only describe as basic athletic skills!"
Sir Alex Ferguson, May 2003
Fundamental movement skills (FMS) are seen as the building blocks from which sports-specific skills are developed. For any young and talented athlete, the journey towards athletic excellence starts with the establishment of fundamental movement competency.
Essentially, FMS are common motor activities with specific and observable movement patterns. They can be described as the ABCs of Athleticism; agility, balance, coordination and speed. When coupled with basic skill development, they are said to produce a level of physical literacy.
“Children who possess inadequate motor skills are often relegated to a life of exclusion from the organised and free play experiences of their peers, and subsequently, to a lifetime of inactivity because of their frustrations in early movement behaviour”.
(Seefeldt, Haubenstricker & Reuchlien 1979, cited in Graham, Holt, Hale & Parker 2001)
FMS can be broken down into three categories as follows:
Locomotor: Locomotor skills involve moving the body from point A to point B. These skills include walking, running, jumping, leaping, hopping, skipping and galloping
Non-locomotor: Non-Locomotor skills involve body stability and balance. These skills include twisting, turning, pivoting and performing balances
Manipulative: Manipulative skills involve the control of objects using various body parts. These skills include throwing, passing, striking, catching, kicking and receiving objects
Teaching these FMS’s to children at an early age is VITAL to long term success. Young children who miss out on developing the FMS’s tend to go to sports specific classes ( coaching for football, rugby, gaelic, basketball etc) . They learn these sports quickly, yes, but as the standards rise the true athlete with great “ athletic ability “ ( all the FMS’s in place ) will succeed , but most plateau or fall back a level.
As a guideline all children need to have all the above skills in place before progressing to sports specific activities.