What Are the Fundamental Motor Skills?

Written by juan ramirez
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What Are the Fundamental Motor Skills?
The majority of gross motor skill development occurs during early childhood. (toddler in the park image by cat from Fotolia.com)

A motor skill is a muscle activity-related skill that requires coordination of movement to complete a task. Different types of motor skills involve larger sets of muscles used to complete general tasks and smaller sets of muscles used to complete more specialised tasks. A majority of people display a left-side or right-side dominance in regards to motor skills and muscular coordination, though a minority of people display no such dominance.

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Gross Motor Skills

Gross motor skills are physical movement abilities related to large groups of muscles in the body. Examples of gross motor skills include walking, running, jumping, crawling and sitting. These types of skills develop fairly rapidly during early childhood, but professional athletes and members of the military often engage in gross motor training and refinement well into adulthood.

The childhood development of gross motor skills follows an order in mentally healthy people. Gross motor skills involving muscular control of the upper body develop first, starting with control of the head, working down to the shoulders, and then to the arms and hands. Development eventually continues down to the lower body, with rapidly improving muscular control of the hips and legs.

Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills involve the control and movement of smaller muscles, such as those found in the fingers and toes. Specific examples of fine motor skills include hand-eye coordination, foot-eye coordination, ocular (eye) motor control, manual dexterity and the sense of touch.

Swift and substantial progress in fine motor skill development occurs between the ages of three and five. Many adults, however, continue trying to improve their hand-eye coordination, foot-eye coordination, and manual dexterity for work purposes, creative expression (musicianship, for example), exercise or sports performance.


Cross-dominance is a motor skill anomaly in which an individual is comfortable using one hand for certain activities and the other hand for other tasks. Ambidexterity is a rare form of cross-dominance in which an individual is skilled at using either hand for all activities.

Young children who are cross-dominant or ambidextrous will exhibit specific behaviours, such as switching hands in the course of writing or cutting, or alternating between feet when kicking. Children who are cross-dominant or ambidextrous may experience difficulty in grasping the concepts of left and right with their own body as well as with external objects.

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