The Sport Information Resource Centre
The Sport Information Resource Centre

by Leigh Cove
Algonquin College Sport Business Management Intern

Muscle memory is a well-known term in active living and sport. The idea that once you have learned something and practiced it, your muscles will begin to move with the pattern of the motions each time you use them until those patterns become natural. Physical literacy takes this idea and applies it to the learning and development of a whole range of body movements, and subsequent combinations of motions. Teaching this ‘body language’ is an important corner stone as kids develop into the athletes of tomorrow so they will want to, and can, participate in activity for life.

Canadian Sport for Life (CS4L) has made physical literacy a priority for the first three stages (Active Start, FUNdamentals, and Learn to Train) of long term athlete development (LTAD).

  • Progression of Physical Literacy
  • Basic Movements
  • Movement Combinations
  • Complex Movement Sequences
  • Skilled Movement

To ensure well rounded physical literacy, CS4L recommends children be exposed to a variety of physical activity that encompass all surface types, activity structures, and player positions. This includes coaching young athletes on how to read their environment and react to it. For example, seeing the position of your teammates on the field and being able to move yourself in the play based on what you see.

One of the barriers to quality physical literacy however is proper training and resources for coaching at the community and grassroots level; limited resources combined with volunteer coach turnover has left a gap in the quality and consistency of physical literacy being taught to young athletes. This is where the LTAD model has come in and is evolving. The Canadian sport community looks to design a system that will better support young athletes and their development. And while not everyone can be an Olympic gold medalist, a solid teaching of physical literacy means a more active future for anyone, child or adult, who just wants to get out there and play.

References available from the SIRC collection:

1. Corlett J, Mandigo J. A Day In The Life: Teaching Physical Literacy. Physical & Health Education Journal. Winter2013 2013;78(4):18-24.
2. Gallant P, Vossen D, Weaving C. In the Zone: Physical Literacy and the Quest for Certified Coaches. Physical & Health Education Journal. Summer 2011 2011;77(2):16-21.
3. Harber V, Schleppe S. Promoting Early Physical Literacy in Alberta. Wellspring. August 2010;21(4):1-4.
4. Norris S. Learning to Train: A Key Stage in Developing Physical Literacy. Wellspring. June 2011;22(3):A1-A4.
5.  Sullivan P, Whitaker-Campbell T, MacKay M. Physical Literacy in Coaching Education Materials: A Case Study of Canada Basketball. Physical & Health Education Journal. Spring2010 2010;76(1):32-35. 6. The meaning of Physical Literacy. Active Living: Newsletters. September 2011;:4.