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Motoric skill

In this article, we would like to share fundamental information about physical education and general motor skill development.  In our daily lives, we often may not view physical development in the appropriate manner or we do not emphasize it enough. In the following paragraphs, we present our perspective, draw attention to the importance of physical development, highlight potential issues, and propose solutions.


Physical development is commonly perceived in everyday language primarily within the fields of medicine (treatment of impaired or underdeveloped children) or sports talent development, leading us to overlook its general yet fundamental importance. Physical development is essential for the healthy formation of personality and an active, productive life. Regarding a child’s development, a comprehensive, holistic approach is crucial: equal emphasis should be placed on physical, mental, and intellectual development to achieve overall health.

The situation with physical development is similar to that of psychology, which for nearly 150 years focused solely on treating mental illnesses. Later, it was realized that psychology is also excellent for enhancing everyday human performance and well-being. Similarly, physical development should be shifted in this direction because it encompasses not only sports performance but a much broader, interconnected realm of physical, mental, and spiritual growth. Increasing physical literacy is a fundamental pillar for effective and healthy nervous system development. It is crucial to pay serious attention to physical development during childhood, the most sensitive and effective period of individual development.

“To improve coordination, ensure coordinated muscle function, and enhance vision, hearing, and kinesthetic perception, adequate movement opportunities are essential. This not only develops physical dexterity but also enables the acquisition of skills that contribute to better learning outcomes upon entering school. At this stage, we are not only developing physical skills but also promoting the hierarchical development of the brain.” (Tibor Király and Zsolt Szakály)

Many cognitive abilities depend on proper physical development, indicating that motor functions, motor skills, and general cognitive development are interconnected and inseparable. The planning and execution of movements occur as a unified process in the nervous system, much like the sequence of movements themselves. Therefore, it is essential to establish and develop these neural pathways and patterns as widely as possible because such nerve impulses derived from movement organization are related to the development of other brain functions, such as thinking.

“The full maturation of the nervous system is necessary for the highest human functions, such as speech, writing, and reading. This maturation occurs through a sequence of sensorimotor neural developments (e.g., crawling, climbing, walking), and this series of movements, together with sensory maturation, leads to the appearance of skills such as speech, writing, and reading.” (Marton-Dévényi et al.)

Thus, physical development is primarily significant for laying the foundation of a quality, active, and healthy life. Facilitating the mastery of sports movements is merely an additional benefit. However, this benefit can have a positive impact later in life, as regular physical activity can serve as the basis for a healthy lifestyle.


Unfortunately, in many cases, the quality and quantity of physical culture development during the most critical period (the child’s first ten years) fall short of the required level, assuming the child appears healthy, and we do not aim to train them as elite athletes.

However, a child’s physical development cannot be separated from their personality development. The two are intrinsically linked, highlighting the imperative to emphasize the importance of physical development, a factor that can determine the course of our entire lives. Neglecting or downplaying it can be a secondary factor, a serious mistake that may lead to physical and psychological problems later.

The lack of proper physical development can lead to problems in perception, attention, memory, thinking, as well as motor unit disorders, and learning difficulties such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Not to mention behavioral disorders.


The richness of our environment’s stimuli during the first five years of life is crucial for the proper development of the nervous system. Adequate, high-quality stimuli are essential for the nervous system’s development. The preschool age is the period for learning, practicing, and mastering “natural movements” (crawling, climbing, walking, running, jumping, throwing, etc.). This foundation underpins all other forms of movement, making it of utmost importance.

“Therefore, the last two years from birth to school entry should be filled with well-planned and especially intensive movement development.” (Tibor Király and Zsolt Szakály)

Subsequently, between the ages of 7-12, with a set of established, assured, natural movements, foundational sports movements can be introduced, upon which individual movement literacy and sports skills can be built. This movement literacy, the broader it is, the greater the opportunity for achieving sporting success and fundamentally mastering the joyful experience of movement. Therefore, a versatile, comprehensive, and joyful training/development program is a crucial tool for creating a lifelong internal and therefore life-long commitment to regular physical activity and a healthy lifestyle.

During primary school years, it is advisable to primarily teach and practice “sport-specific movements,” which lack an expressly sports-oriented nature but fundamentally determine future movement literacy and sports skills. Moreover, because of their general nature, they can lay the foundation for the specific movements of various sports. For example, a well-coordinated throwing motion can help with javelin throwing, handball throwing, or even the opening motion of volleyball or tennis.

“As long as students cannot execute the elementary parts of complex sports movements well, it makes no sense to teach sports techniques as teaching material.” (Tibor Király and Zsolt Szakály)

Before the age of 9-10, it is not advisable to burden children with excessive specialization because, although this may lead to significant short-term advantages (such as success in competitions), it may have harmful long-term consequences. Consider the typical anatomical asymmetry caused by an overly specialized sport (e.g., tennis). The issue is not with early sports initiation or the type of sport but with early specialization in a single sport. A broad, versatile workload is essential for healthy development, both in terms of physical body structure and nervous system processes.


It must be emphasized that development can only be achieved through the individual’s active, creative cooperation. Without this, development will either not occur or will be minimal. Therefore, a child’s internal motivation is indispensable. Achieving this requires taking into account and adapting flexibly to rapidly changing technological and resulting societal transformations. This is a significant challenge but an unavoidable element of modern pedagogy and child-rearing.

“We know that all healthy young children make tremendous progress through spontaneous development if not hindered. The innate love of movement and agility characteristic of children must be allowed to flourish and guided and directed through activities such as preschool physical education, musical and playful group sessions, and, most importantly, creative playgrounds. To facilitate this, ample opportunities for movement must be provided…” (Dr. Edit Bíróné and colleagues)

The movement literacy and experiences related to physical activity acquired during childhood fundamentally shape how individuals relate to sports. Therefore, physical education teachers, educators, and sports professionals bear significant responsibility for creating suitable conditions for positive experiences. This requires considering children’s preparedness, abilities, and skills and structuring lessons and long-term plans around these factors and we have to  heavily moderate the importance of childhood sports achievements.

It is essential for families to plan activities and outings together that involve a lot of movement. Imitation is one of the most important forms of children’s learning, so setting a good example, engaging in sports frequently and joyfully, will radiate a love of movement from adults and engrave it deeply in children’s minds. These patterns are lifelong and can lay the groundwork for adult sporting habits.

Therefore, serious attention must be paid to ensuring children’s regular physical activity and development. From preschool age onwards, there is a particularly intensive period of movement development. The task is simply to provide children with ample opportunities for appropriate quantities and qualities of movement—multifaceted, healthy, and everyday useful skills, developed through games, enthusiastic tasks, and entertaining sports that reveal the joy of movement.


Marton Dévényi É., Szerdahelyi M., Tóth G., Keresztes K. (2002): Foundational Therapy Study, Foundational Therapies Foundation, Budapest.

Dr. Tibor Király, Dr. Zsolt Szakály (2011): Movement Development and Motor Skills Development in Childhood, University of Pécs, University of Szeged, University of West Hungary, Eszterházy Károly University, Dialog Campus Publisher-Nordex Kft

Dr. Edit Bíróné, József Bognár, Judit Farkas, János Gombocz, Pál Hamar, Attila Tamás Kovács, János Mészáros, Károly Ozsváth, Erzsébet Rétsági, Endre Rigler, I. Marina Salvara, Béla Szabó, Ágnes Tihanyiné Hős, Ágnes Vináné Kokovay (2011): Sport Pedagogy – Handbook for the Study of Physical Education and Sports Pedagogical Issues, Dialog Campus Publisher-Nordex Kft, University of Pécs, University of Szeged, University of West Hungary, Eszterházy Károly University, Dialog Campus Publisher-Nordex Kft.