top of page

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS)

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

The FMS Breakdown

"Our principal aim as teachers of FMS is to provide educative, engaging, and developmentally appropriate learning activities for our young students, exposing them to varied opportunities that will individually and fully support their movement proficiency" (Jefferson-Buchanan, 2022).

In this blog, I will communicate what FMS is, share the benefits of developing competence in FMS, share suggestions on how to incorporate movement into a school day, how FMS can be differentiated, and lastly, I share a couple resources to better support you and your students on the development of FMS.


Breaking down the phrase (for lack of a better word), Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS), we can first look at:

Fundamental - forming a necessary base or core.

Fundamental movements are the basic learned movement patterns. These fundamental movement skills are the foundations for more complex physical and sporting activities (Barrett et al., 2016). The movement patterns do not occur naturally and are the foundations of activities later taught in a PE programme (Barnett et al., 2016). FMS consist of three categoreis:

1) Locomotor

2) Stability

3) Object Control

1) Locomotor Movements

Locomotor movements consist of travelling through space; one point to the next. Examples of locomotor movements are walking, hopping, galloping, tiptoeing, waddling, slithering, etc.) (Green Gilbert, 2015).

Stability/Non-Locomotor Movements

Non-locomotor movements are stability movements that do not involve travelling from one spot to the next. Rather, body and limb movement happens around the spine (e.g. bending, twisting, swinging, etc.).

Object Control

Object control skills, sometimes called manipulative skills or even ball control skills, consist of retaining, sending, and receiving objects. Examples are: dribbling a basketball (retaining), striking a baseball with a bat (sending), and receiving (catching a rugby ball).

Why are FMS important? Or are they?

Students with competence in a wide range of FMS are more likely to benefit from many physical, social, and emotional health outcomes both now and later in life. Greater competence in FMS results in greater likelihood of:

  • higher physical activity levels

  • higher cardio-respiratory fitness

  • healthy weight

  • stronger muscles and bones

  • higher self-esteem

  • lifelong physical activity

  • greater self-confidence

  • more willingness to take risks

  • more social friendships

  • cognitive achievement (Hands, 2012)

Unfortunately, many students are not properly taught/assessed and are provided insufficient practice opportunities required for FMS mastery (Okley et al., 2001). The students then move to middle/secondary school having not properly developed FMS (Lander et al., 2015). Mastery of a new skill takes approximately 9-10 hours of practice and it takes about 3 months to change an established movement pattern (Hands, 2012). Therefore, learning becoming competent in FMS earlier in life is most beneficial.

What Can Teachers Do To Support FMS?

FMS are essential for participation in physical activity now and for a lifetime. However, as much as 93% of children/youth are insufficiently active (Colley et al, 2011). To help develop FMS, Hands (2012) suggests teachers:

  • Know their students' children’s interests, strengths, and needs. If children in your class don't have access to playground at their homes/in their communities, provide extra time to explore and learn skills on playground equipment.

  • Integrate FMS into times during the school day. When the bell rings, students need to an exercise for a specific FMS movement for 1 minute. When standing in line to begin transitioning to a specialist teacher, students balance on one foot for 10 seconds.

  • Provide opportunities to develop and practice FMS by integrating movement into all subject areas. Play a game of Four Corners and have students move in different locomotor movements as they choose "Strongly Agree", "Slightly Agree", "Strongly Disagree" and "Slightly Disagree" when posed a question in Humanities.

  • Maximize participation in activity. In-class and playground games should not be elimination games and there should be suitable equipment access for ALL students.

  • Individualize Learning Experiences. Provide students voice and choice on the type of movements they'd like to do/be exposed to throughout a school day.

Chart from Kiddo (n.d.). Found at

**Please keep in mind that ‘fundamental’ may be different to another person within a different context. For example, as a Canadian, I don't recall "punting" being a focus in elementary school (but it is here for children in Australia). Ice skating was a locomotor skill that many children, in my childhood context, were exposed to at an early age.

Differentiating FMS

To increase engagement and motivation to "move", optimal challenges provided to students is beneficial for students to further develop FMS. Jefferson-Buchanan (2022) suggests the following ways to differentiate FMS for children/youth:

  1. Varying Task Demands - Increase or decrease the speed of a skills. Limit the space of a tag game so students are getting tagged more frequently. Make an activity more competitive or more cooperative based on the needs/interests of your students.

  2. Changing the Rules - Allowing or preventing an action in activity based on the needs of the students (e.g. allowing one bounce in a volleyball game; preventing the same student to score two goals in a row). Promote rules that prevent elimination. Encourage different ways to travel (not just walking or running).

  3. Adapt the Teaching Cues - Provide visuals, share demonstrations from teacher and/or students, and provide written descriptions in multiple languages (if required by student needs).

  4. Relationship Groupings - Provide opportunities for students to work (and) learn from a partner. Depending on the needs of the student(s), consider small groups working together on a task or modify the game so the whole class is not playing a full-sided game.

  5. Equipment - Change the size of the ball the child is trying to catch. Provide a balance bike for students not yet ready to cycle a two-wheel pedal bike independently.


What should I do for students where I have concerns about the development of FMS and they may require additional support (e.g. occupational therapist, physiotherapist, kinesiologist, etc.)? I'd recommend a baseline assessment of FMS skills for all of your students to gather data on where each student is currently. If there are obvious concerns, consider looking into administering the Test for Gross Motor Development-3 (TGMD-3) (Ulrich, 2019). The website is here for more details. The test is designed for children aged 3 to almost 11. There are 6 locomotor movements and 7 object control skills assessed. After some practice, the test takes about 10 minutes to administer (plus extra time to score). Every school has a different way of doing this, but definitely communicate with other specialist teachers and homeroom teachers about any concerns they are seeing (e.g. fine motor, posture, fatigue, etc.).

Where might I find some resources/games to help teach and promote the development of FMS? Check out KIDDO. There are many games specifically for children aged 3-5 and 5-8. If you work with pre-school aged children (5 and younger), you can look at this research-based resource called Healthy Opportunities for Pre-Schoolers (HOP) by Temple & O'Connor (2005). **Please note - I believe there is a newer version of HOP somewhere but you might have to do some investigating.

Membership Plan

If you want more information about what the website offers (both free and paid), check out the post here. Receive 10% off all membership options when using the the coupon code: APRIL10. The deal will continue for the month of April.

You can also subscribe for free and be kept in the loop about everything happening at Down With PE. You can subscribe at the bottom of the homepage.

Thank you for reading about FMS! Hopefully, you were able to taking something from it.

693 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page