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Physical Literacy and Sport

Physical literacy is about developing the skills, knowledge and behaviours that give us the confidence and motivation to lead active lives.

Physical literacy involves holistic lifelong learning through movement and physical activity. It can help Australians at every stage of life develop and maintain positive physical activity behaviours and delivers physical, psychological, social and cognitive health and wellbeing benefits.

The importance of being ‘physically literate’ is just as profound as being literate in reading, language and numeracy.

Key messages

Evidence of decline

Research and evidence suggests that Australian children's physical literacy and motor skill competence is declining, with potential life-long impacts for health and well-being.


Early competency of movement skills appears to encourage greater participation in sport and lifelong physical activity, both of which contribute to better lifetime health outcomes.

Contribution of sport

All sports contribute to acquiring related fundamental movement skills. Some sports (e.g. athletics, gymnastics, swimming) activate many skills and are generally accessible for early-age skill development.

Other factors

Play opportunities, relevant physical education curriculum, and organised sport participation help young children to become ‘physically literate’.

Topic focus

What is Physical Literacy?
The acquisition and mastery of fundamental movement skills contribute to one’s physical literacy.

Physical literacy in the Australian context
To help all Australians, especially our children, bring out their best through physical activity.

Development and influencing factors
Patterns of physical activity are affected by gender, culture, social and economic considerations.

Physical literacy underpins a lifelong relationship with physical activity and sport participation.

Physical literacy and physical education
Physical literacy, physical activity, and physical education all make valuable contributions to individual development.

International practice
A number of countries recognise the potential benefits of promoting physical literacy as a means of achieving population health.

Related Topics

Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 13 October 2020
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer


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