Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 7, pp 1533–1540 | Cite as

Development of Foundational Movement Skills: A Conceptual Model for Physical Activity Across the Lifespan

  • Ryan M. Hulteen
  • Philip J. Morgan
  • Lisa M. Barnett
  • David F. Stodden
  • David R. LubansEmail author
Current Opinion


Evidence supports a positive association between competence in fundamental movement skills (e.g., kicking, jumping) and physical activity in young people. Whilst important, fundamental movement skills do not reflect the broad diversity of skills utilized in physical activity pursuits across the lifespan. Debate surrounds the question of what are the most salient skills to be learned which facilitate physical activity participation across the lifespan. In this paper, it is proposed that the term ‘fundamental movement skills’ be replaced with ‘foundational movement skills’. The term ‘foundational movement skills’ better reflects the broad range of movement forms that increase in complexity and specificity and can be applied in a variety of settings. Thus, ‘foundational movement skills’ includes both traditionally conceptualized ‘fundamental’ movement skills and other skills (e.g., bodyweight squat, cycling, swimming strokes) that support physical activity engagement across the lifespan. A proposed conceptual model outlines how foundational movement skill competency can provide a direct or indirect pathway, via specialized movement skills, to a lifetime of physical activity. Foundational movement skill development is hypothesized to vary according to culture and/or geographical location. Further, skill development may be hindered or enhanced by physical (i.e., fitness, weight status) and psychological (i.e., perceived competence, self-efficacy) attributes. This conceptual model may advance the application of motor development principles within the public health domain. Additionally, it promotes the continued development of human movement in the context of how it leads to skillful performance and how movement skill development supports and maintains a lifetime of physical activity engagement.



The authors thank Adrian Edmunds of Nodding Dog for his assistance in creating the figure for this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards


Author RMH is supported through an Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship. DRL is supported by an ARC Future Fellowship.

Conflict of interest

Ryan Hulteen, Lisa Barnett, Philip Morgan, David Stodden, and David Lubans declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan M. Hulteen
    • 1
  • Philip J. Morgan
    • 1
  • Lisa M. Barnett
    • 2
  • David F. Stodden
    • 3
  • David R. Lubans
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and NutritionUniversity of NewcastleCallaghanAustralia
  2. 2.School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of HealthDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  3. 3.Yvonne and Schuyler Moore Child Development Research Center, Department of Physical Education and Athletic TrainingUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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