What Is
Physical Literacy?

Physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life.

Watch the video to learn the ABC’s of Physical Literacy!

Physical Literacy Is...


the reason we act


when we feel certain about our abilities


when we can perform physical activities effectively


when we know how being physically literate benefits us

How is Physical Literacy different from Physical Activity?

Physical Activity is how you move and the energy you use while moving, while Physical Literacy is the development of fundamental movement skills that allow you to participate in a variety of physical activities.

These factors are connected as our physical literacy affects our participation in physical activities and our commitment to being active for life.

What are Fundamental Movement Skills?

Fundamental Movement Skills (FMS) are the building blocks of Physical Literacy and can be organized into 3 categories; Stability, Locomotor, and Manipulation skills. FMS help children read their environment and make appropriate decisions, move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity situations.

Stability Skills

Balancing, Rolling, Spinning, Swinging, Dodging, Floating, Twisting, Turning and more.

Locomotor Skills

Running, Climbing, Jumping, Hopping, Skating, Swimming, Wheeling and more.

Manipulative Skills

Rolling, Catching, Throwing, Kicking, Dribbling, Striking, Volleying and more.

Why is Physical Literacy Important?

Children need to learn fundamental movement skills to become physically literate. Gradually, through their participation in structured and unstructured activities, they gain the skills, competence and confidence required to explore a wide variety of physical activities that benefit their healthy development.

Physical literacy and physical activity play a very important role in a child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development.


The heart is a muscle; it gets stronger with physical activity.


As kids work towards a common goal. teamwork skills are developed.


Physical activity enhances mental health.


Physical activity sparks brain activity.

How does Physical Literacy work?

Physical literacy evolves over time, just like language literacy.

Think about the way children learn to read. They need to recognize letters and learn sounds before being able to read simple words. Over time, young readers learn more complex words, simple sentences, more complex sentences and eventually, paragraphs.

During every step of language literacy development, learning is built on previous knowledge and skills. Over time, children become more proficient readers – reading more quickly, fluently and with fewer pauses and mistakes.

Physical literacy follows a similar process.

Children need to learn basic physical movements and fundamental movement skills, and then practice them regularly, before they can effectively play games and participate in physical activities or organized sports. For example, they need to learn how to run, dodge and reach in order to play tag during recess at school and they need to learn how to run, hit, catch and throw a ball before they can play baseball. Over time, kids become more confident and competent – moving with more precision and fluency.

Children who are physically literate report having more fun while participating in active play and physical activities, and they are much more likely to engage in them over time.