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Physical Literacy


Physical literacy is an extremely important aspect in youth development because it provides the fundamental movement skills needed to enjoy the wide range of physical activities that are available to us. Basic motor skills are the building blocks for more specialized movement skills and patterns that an athlete will need to reach greater levels of achievement. Recent studies show that youth who have high physical literacy levels have an increased confidence in their abilities, a greater likelihood of participating in sport, and have a higher tendency to remain active as they age.

Here are some articles on the basics of physical literacy, fundamental movement skills, injury prevention, and staying active for life.

What is Physical Literacy?

Physical and Health Education Canada (PHE) describes a physically literate child this way: “Individuals who are physically literate move with competence and confidence in a wide variety of physical activities in multiple environments that benefit the healthy development of the whole person.” Research has shown that being physically active later in life depends on an individual’s ability to feel confident in an activity setting. That confidence most often comes from having learned fundamental movement and sport skills, or physical literacy, as a child. Physical literacy is an indispensible means for active participation in the societies and the development and maintenance of good health.

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Physical Literacy and Injury Prevention

This guide is intended to introduce the coach, parent, volunteer, administrator, leader, or official to the basic concepts of injury risk reduction in sport and physical activity through the use of injury prevention and risk management tools and practices. While these practices are well established in areas such as public health and workplace safety, they have not been fully adopted within sport and physical activity. As such, sport and physical activity groups have the opportunity to learn from these evidence-based practices and apply them to their delivery of sport and physical activity programs in Canada.

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Fundamental Movement

Fundamental movement and sports skills – also called “physical literacy” – help a child learn to move with confidence and control. There are many benefits to learning movement skills. It enhances brain function in the early years. It improves motor skills, balance, strength, posture, coordination, and sleep patterns. It enhances confidence, social skills, and self esteem. Think of how important learning the alphabet and phonics are to eventually reading novels. In the same way, developing fundamental movement skills helps children to be successful in sports later on.

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Active For Life

Recent research provides support to the conclusion that early learning of motor skills leads to a more active individual across the lifespan. Basic motor skills help form the foundation children need to build upon in their development as a physically active individual. Physical education programs that incorporate developmentally appropriate motor skill instruction could prove to be important places for developing a more active and healthy generation which values physical fitness and physical activity as they age.