Focus on the Athleticism End of the Continuum, not the Sickness End — Rick Howard
Protectives Reduce the Need for Correctives
Have you noticed lately that fitness has gotten caught up in the same sickness paradigm as our “healthcare” system? Rather than focusing on developing the 22 fundamental motor skills for all kids, we wait until there are movement deficiencies and rate their inability to move on a pain-to-proficient scale. According to the Illness-Wellness Continuum, we have become fixated on the treatment paradigm instead of the wellness paradigm. I suggest we get back to basics and focus on developing health and wellness for all kids, starting as early as possible (LTAD Pillar #5- https://www.nsca.com/long-term_athletic_development_position_statement/)
Why not ensure that all kids have the opportunity to master the 22 fundamental motor skills so that kids can focus on the opportunities that movement competence provides? These opportunities include developing and improving athleticism by participating in a variety of sports and physical activities across the lifespan, aka physical literacy. Movement competence leads to lifetime physical activity. Protectives will reduce the need for correctives!
These Skills Must be Taught
Who will teach kids these skills? It will take those with great courage to be the outliers willing to focus on the fundamentals. It will take those that can actually move competently and also have the ability to teach kids at their level. It will take those that are willing to focus on an early start for all kids to reduce the number of movement proficiency later in life. This is where I focus for kids of all ages!
Let’s look at the teaching aspect. Coaches, physical educators, and trainers should look to bring “learning to life” by walking with the kids in your care, and working with them, alongside them (see Mark K Smith’s great article on pedagogy http://infed.org/mobi/what-is-pedagogy/). Can you as teacher inspire the kids in your care to progress through the 22 fundamental motor skills while having fun and contextually experiencing how those skills can be applied in various movements, skills, and games? A key point to remember is that fundamental motor skills are age-related, not age-determined. This means that while most 7-year-olds may be able to jump rope (age-related), a 7-year-old is not necessarily able to jump rope just because he/she is 7 (age-determined). It is critical that we provide age-appropriate instruction and then encourage time for free play, semi-structured play, and structured play in order for kids to learn, explore, and reinforce their skills.
How to Get Started
So, how do you do it? First recognize and improve your own 22 motor skills from the three categories:
- Object Control- Throwing, Catching, Kicking, Striking, Bouncing, Dribbling
- Locomotor– Walking, Running, Skipping, Dodging, Jumping, Crawling, Hopping
- Body Awareness- Balance (Static and Dynamic), Stopping, Landing, Bending, Turning, Rolling, Climbing, Stretching, Twisting
I like the way Larry Meadors lined them up for practical use (https://www.nsca.com/education/articles/practical-application-for-long-term-athletic-development/)
If you need guidance on explaining and evaluating fundamental movement skills, I recommend this manual from the Australian government https://www.eduweb.vic.gov.au/edulibrary/public/teachlearn/student/fmsteachermanual09.pdf.
Now we are ready to improve fundamental motor skills for our athletes/clients. Next we will look at how to program fundamental motor skills into activities for athletes of all ages.
My blog suggests solutions for successfully implementing LTAD. The blogs are based on evidence, experience, and scholarly discussions with colleagues.
This blog reflects my personal opinion— I also welcome yours!