Physical literacy is something we aim to develop in participants, by facilitating and valuing each person’s experience. In this blog we discuss what physical literacy is and why it’s so important.
What is physical literacy?
Physical literacy is a disposition encompassing the motivation, confidence, physical competence, knowledge and understanding to establish purposeful physical pursuits as an integral part of one’s lifestyle.
It’s about building the skills, knowledge and behaviours that give us the confidence and motivation to lead active lives.
Elements of physical literacy
Being physically literate requires a combination of skills, including physical, psychological, social and cognitive. Let’s run through each of these below.
This involves the skills and fitness a person acquires and applies through movement.
The physical domain is about being able to:
- perform movement skills that involve controlling and adapting posture and balance, to successfully negotiate different environments
- apply the movement strategies that a situation or environment requires
- manipulate and control different objects across a variety of physical activities
- build a level of fitness to successfully participate in a range of physical activities
This encompasses the attitudes and emotions a person has towards movement, and the impact they have on their confidence and motivation to move.
The psychological domain is about being able to:
- identify and draw satisfaction, self-esteem, confidence, motivation and enjoyment from different movement experiences
- understand, demonstrate and manage both emotional and physical responses, such as empathy and fatigue, during physical activities
- persist with movement regardless of difficulty, challenges or failure, in the belief that improvement will come with learning and effort
The social component involves a person’s interaction with others in relation to movement.
The social domain is all about being able to:
- build and maintain respectful relationships that enable effective interaction with others
- lead others in collaborative, ethical and inclusive behaviours in physical activity, including understanding when to be a team member or a leader
- develop a sense of understanding and openness when participating in physical activities, which can include a willingness to share and learn from your own and others experiences
- exhibit fair play and ethical behaviour in physical activities and environments
The cognitive component involves a person’s understanding of how, why and when they move.
The cognitive domain is about being able to:
- think, understand and make decisions, and knowing how and when to perform movement skills
- understand and follow rules and apply tactics or strategies within a game
- know ways of moving with and around other people and the environment to solve movement challenges
- know and understand the short and long-term benefits of participating in movement and physical activity
Attributes of physical literacy
When one is physically literate, there are certain things that should emerge. These include:
- Wanting to take part in physical activity
- Having confidence when taking part in different physical activities
- Moving efficiently and effectively in different physical activities
- Having an awareness of movement needs and possibilities in different physical activities
- Working independently and with others in different physical activities
- Knowing how to improve performance in different physical activities
- Knowing how physical activity can improve wellbeing
- Having the self-confidence to plan and effect a physically active lifestyle
Benefits of physical literacy
Physical literacy has a multitude of benefits, both for individuals and society as a whole.
Some of the benefits associated with people being physically literate include:
- Improved physical and mental wellbeing of the population
- Increased levels of participation in physical activity
- Stronger social connections
- Increased workforce productivity
- Future savings to healthcares
Additionally, while we help students build physical literacy at school, its benefits extend beyond the school gates. Physical literacy influences how one incorporates activity at home, at work, and socially. By developing physical literacy and making daily physical activity the norm, we can set our children up for healthy, active and fulfilling lives.