Global levels of fundamental motor skills in children: a systematic review

Lisa E. Bolger, Linda A. Bolger, Cian O'Neill, Edward Coughlan, Wesley O'Brien, Sean Lacey, Con Burns, Farid Bardid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


Competence in fundamental motor skills (FMS) facilitates physical activity participation and is important for children’s holistic development. This study aimed to systematically review the FMS levels of children worldwide, using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 (TGMD-2). In accordance with PRISMA guidelines, studies were identified from searches across 7 databases. Studies were required to: (i) include typically developing children (3–10 years), (ii) be published in English, (iii) have been published between 2004 and 2019 and, (iv) report ≥1 TGMD-2 outcome scores. Extracted data were evaluated based on importance of determinants, strength of evidence, and methodological quality. Data from 64 articles were included. Weighted mean (and standard deviation) scores were calculated for each FMS outcome score. Analyses revealed FMS competence increases across age during childhood, with greater proficiency in locomotor skills than object control skills. Additionally, boys exhibit higher object control skill proficiency than girls. Compared to TGMD-2 normative data, children demonstrate “below average” to “average” FMS levels. This review highlights the scope for FMS development among children worldwide. These findings reinforce the necessity for FMS interventions in early educational settings, as FMS competence is positively associated with physical activity and other health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-753
Number of pages37
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number7
Early online date30 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2021


  • children
  • motor development
  • motor skills
  • movement skills
  • physical activity


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