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Image / Editorial

New survey shows large number of Irish children cannot run or kick a ball by the age of 10


by Edaein OConnell
27th Jan 2020

A new study has found a large number of Irish children have not mastered basic skills such as running and jumping by the age of 10 


According to a new survey, one in four Irish children cannot run properly, half cannot kick a ball and less than one in five can throw a ball.

The research was carried out by Dublin City University and studied more than 2,000 children between the ages of five and 12.

Fundamental movement skills (FMS) such as running, jumping, catching and kicking a ball should be mastered by children by the age of eight. However, the study found that a large proportion of children had not grasped these skills by the age of 10 after which they make no further progress.

If a child hasn’t become proficient at these activities, they are at risk of developing self-esteem issues when it comes to participating in activities and sports. This can then lead to the child becoming detached from physical activity altogether.

Locomotor skills (running and skipping) and object control (catching and throwing) were also tested. This analysis found only 53% of children had mastered locomotor skills by the age of 12, while 55% had learned object control. And 61% had achieved control of balance.

Fundamental movements

Boys were more likely to have a better competence for ball skills, while girls were better in control of body exercises such as skipping.

Dr Stephen Behan of DCU believes the study is of significant importance saying: “There is a lot of attention on childhood obesity and low participation rates in sport — a focus on the fundamental movement skills in young children could be key in tackling both.”

Dr Johann Issartel said the findings were helping to uncover issues which need to be addressed by parents and teachers.

“If the current generation of children can’t throw and catch in basic situations, why would they choose to play if they aren’t good at it? ‘It is not fun’, that’s what they say, and if it is not fun they won’t play.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Sports Sciences and are part of a project between DCU’s School of Health and Human Performance, the DCU-based Insight Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Data Analytics and the GAA.


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