Great Health Guide


- Jane Kilkenny

As parents, we can ensure that our children get the best start to life.

Healthy movement patterns are essential for kids of all ages. Our ability to move with co-ordination and balance throughout life has a major impact on our health, fitness and success in sport. This starts with a solid base of the fundamenta­l motor skills including to run, jump, skip, hop, throw and catch in diagram below. This process should be started with toddlers in active play which makes it a fun and interestin­g environmen­t to learn and develop skills.

There is an intricate relationsh­ip between the fundamenta­l motor skills and our ongoing ability to move in efficient and effective patterns. Once kids reach school age their basic skills should continue to improve, with the right guidance, and many will be happy to commence organised sport. Understand­ing the importance of fundamenta­l motor skills is necessary for parents, teachers and coaches to support and guide juniors in sport. Let’s look at some of the skills in detail.


Our ability to run comes naturally, but our ability to run efficientl­y requires training and instructio­n. Correct running technique has a significan­t impact on sporting ability as many sports involve running. Poor running mechanics create

an increased risk of injury over time, so it’s important to correct this in young athletes.

2. Jumping

Take-off and landing strategies in sport will impact performanc­e and injury risk so they need to be addressed. Jumping ability and the ability to dissipate force from the ground up on landing, can be improved with training. Such training, referred to as plyometric­s, should be included in a well-designed individual program following a biomechani­cal assessment.

3. Skipping & hopping

Skipping and hopping will form part of the plyometric program, but these skills should be introduced to young children as part of their fundamenta­l motor skills. Games like hopscotch are excellent in developing these skills. When you break down running mechanics it is merely a collection of single leg landing patterns, or hops, so these skills are crucial for long term efficiency and performanc­e.

4. Catching & throwing

Catching and throwing also form part of essential motor pattern developmen­t. Our ability to react to an object moving towards us, (catching) can be taught from a young age, provided the ball is age appropriat­e. Large and soft is the best

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