What Are Locomotor Skills? - Definition, Instruction & Examples

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  • 0:00 The Importance of Movement
  • 0:55 Locomotor Skills
  • 2:15 Non-Locomotor Skills
  • 3:20 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rachel Torrens
We are about to get a move on, literally! This lesson describes the difference between locomotor and non-locomotor skills and explains the vital role each plays in the development of a child's physical abilities.

The Importance of Movement

From the time of our birth, we are discovering how to move about in the world. An infant learns to pick up Cheerios with an index finger and thumb, a toddler masters using a spoon to eat cereal, and a child works on the complex coordination required to use chopsticks. Now, these eating activities may seem trivial, but this evolution of motion is essential to our success as an individual.

The core of human activity can be reduced to several fundamental movements, known as locomotor and non-locomotor skills. These skills are often taught either through play or formal physical education classes. It may seem silly to instruct a child in these basic skills, but they represent the building blocks upon which more complex movements are based. So it's time to examine each of these important skill sets more closely!

Locomotor Skills

A locomotor skill is a physical action that propels an individual from one place to another. This may mean moving forward, backward, or even upwards using certain skills. Examples of locomotor skills include:

  • Walking or running
  • Jumping or hopping
  • Galloping or marching
  • Skipping

The list starts with skills that are easier to master, and then progresses to the more difficult movements, like skipping.

By mastering the locomotor skill of running with the game of tag, this child can advance to more complicated movements required in games, such as soccer or basketball.
Child running in a game of tag.

And by no means is this list exhaustive. In fact, take a moment to see if you can think of one not included in the above list. If you thought of side-sliding, rolling, or leaping, then you are right!

These skills help to refine a child's gross motor abilities. The more often locomotor skills are practiced, the greater the child's ability to fine tune the movement of each skill. For example, with sufficient practice a child who is able to hop in place becomes able to play hopscotch. Likewise, after simply running, a teenager is later able to compete in a relay race. Now, let's explore a different type of movement equally important to a child's physical development.

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