I’m sure that, as a parent, the most important thing for you is to ensure that your child has the best opportunities in life as they grow and develop. As Strength and Conditioning (S&C) coaches, our focus in youth athletes is to ensure that we are developing children that can turn their hand to any sport they choose. As the fundamental movement skills are the foundation of all sports, S&C starts with these. So, for those of you where S&C sessions are not available, how can you, as a parent, help your child have the best opportunity to develop these skills?  

Something that S&C coaches use a lot is called Long-term Athlete Development (LTAD). This is a term which is bandied around quite a lot so let’s break it down. LTAD has developed the idea of 4 pillars of fundamental movement. These pillars breakdown each aspect of movement that a child should be able to do as they grow. They develop these skills as an ongoing process, and it doesn’t just stop when they reach a certain age.  

The younger we start with children, the quicker they will develop and, more than likely, the further they will go in their chosen sport. There has been a lot of talk about whether early specialisation is something that we need to be more mindful of in the UK. In the USA they don’t specialise in sports and most children and young adults go on to playing more than the one sport and to a high level. To find out more about early specialisation, check out my other blog right HERE! 

One fundamental belief is that when children are learning these movement skills they should be about to experiment, problem solve and, most importantly, have fun. These factors mean that a child can learn in an environment which they enjoy and want to come back to. This means the body will better retain and become more confident with the different aspects of movement skills. By applying pressure to a child or outright directing them how to perform a task (as is our natural instinct), it is actually shown to hinder their progression. So, work towards encouragement and fun in order to develop the skills the child needs.  

Below are the 4 pillars of fundamental movement skills, as well as guidelines where each child should be at and at what age. However, I must impress that every child is different and different children develop at different rates so these are very much guidelines rather than clear targets. These tables will help you to track your child’s progress, create situations to aid their development of these skills and understand more about how S&C should work at this stage of development.  

4 Pillars of Fundamental Movement Development

Body Awareness

Locomotion

Co-ordination

Movement Patterns

Balance

Climb

Rolling

Line Walk

Crawling

Dodge

Hop

Jump

Skip

Run

Walk

Gallop

Change of Direction

Land

Throw

Catch

Kick

Squat

Hinge

Push

Pull

Lunge

Brace

Rotate

 

2-4 years

5-7 years

Balance

Balance on one foot

Hop and hold on one foot

Climb

Climb over a low box

Climb a ladder

Roll

Side roll

Teddy bear roll

Forward roll

Line walking

Walk along chalk or tape line

Walk along low beam

Crawling

Hands and knees

Bear crawl (knees off the ground)

Dodge

 

2-4 years

5-7 years

Hop

Hop

Repeated hops

Jump

Jump

Repeated jumps

Skip

Skip

Skipping with a rope

Run

Run

Accelerate

Change of Direction

Running around avoiding each other

Cod games – tails

Land

Land on two legs

Land on one leg

 

2-4 years

5-7 years

Throw

Overarm throw – bean bag

Tarket throwing

Under arm throw

Catch

Catch with two hands – balloons

Catch with one hand

Kick

Kick a ball

Pass a ball

 

2-4 years

5-7 years

Squat

Frog jumping

Box squats

Hinge

Good morning

Push

Get ups

Incline press up

Pull

Tug of war

Lunge

Lunges over muddy puddles

Walking lunges

Brace

Plank

Rotate

Pivot point rotation

React to stimuli with rotation