To understand the movement mechanics of fundamental movement skills (FMS), it is helpful to see them performed. The links below take you to excellent short videos at KIDDO that show children performing each skill at different stages of development.
As you watch these videos, remember that skill learning depends on the child’s physical readiness. Children might be ready to begin learning some of the following fundamental movement skills as early as three or four years of age, but it may take many months or years to master each skill through ongoing practice. Skill development does not happen from one day to the next.
Balance is an essential physical ability that supports the development of other locomotor and object control skills. Children normally start to develop balance soon after birth as they learn to roll, sit, and walk.
Children naturally start to kick objects after about age two. However, there are many different ways of kicking (e.g., kicking a ball, kicking in martial arts), and each type of kick may take many years to develop and refine.
Children are generally ready to start jumping with two feet between age three and four. This video shows the standing broad jump and the vertical jump. Jumping requires a relatively high degree of strength, balance, and coordination between arms and legs, so children need a few years to develop and refine the skill.
Striking is a skill used in many sports and activities. Hockey and baseball involve striking with a stick, while tennis, badminton, and squash involve striking with a racquet. Children can be introduced to very basic striking between age two and three, but they might require another three or four years of regular play to develop basic consistency in the skill.
Most children naturally want to run after approximately two years of age. However, like many movement skills, running takes years to refine and develop proficiency. Children at age two simply don’t have the strength, balance, and coordination to run efficiently. Preschool children should therefore be encouraged to play games that involve running, but they shouldn’t be “coached” in running technique until they are a few years older.
After four years of age, when they have developed enough basic balance, strength, and gross motor control, children are generally ready to start hopping on one foot. As children enter the elementary years, simple fun games such as hopscotch help them to develop and refine their hopping ability.
Children are generally ready to be introduced to skipping after age four. Before learning to skip, however, they should first practice hopping, as hopping is one of the essential movements within skipping.
Overhand throwing is a relatively complicated sequence of movements. The mature, proficient form of overhand throwing may take years to master, but children as young as three years of age can begin to develop the skill by being encouraged to throw in playful ways.
Most children aren’t ready to develop catching skills until after their third birthday, and the best time to start practicing basic catching is after their fourth birthday. Basic catching skills aren’t usually fully developed until at least 6-9 years of age.
Dodging is a relatively complex movement skill in that it relies on the prior development of other skills such as running, skipping, and hopping. Most children start to develop dodging skills in the early elementary years through games such as tag.
Dribbling a basketball or similar “bouncy” ball requires a significant amount of fine motor and gross motor control. Children can be introduced in the early elementary years to hand dribbling while standing still, but it may take a few years for them to develop enough refined skill to dribble with control while running.
Children can be introduced to dribbling a soccer ball in kindergarten, and they will usually start by kicking the ball and chasing it. As they develop better fine motor control through the early elementary years and beyond, they will acquire a softer touch that allows them to keep the ball close to their feet as they move with it.