BACKGROUND: Fundamental movement skill (FMS) proficiency is positively associated with physical activity and fitness levels. The objective of this study was to systematically review evidence for the benefits of FMS interventions targeting youth.
METHODS: A search with no date restrictions was conducted across 7 databases. Studies included any school-, home-, or community-based intervention for typically developing youth with clear intent to improve FMS proficiency and that reported statistical analysis of FMS competence at both preintervention and at least 1 other postintervention time point. Study designs included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) using experimental and quasi-experimental designs and single group pre-post trials. Risk of bias was independently assessed by 2 reviewers.
RESULTS: Twenty-two articles (6 RCTs, 13 quasi-experimental trials, 3 pre-post trials) describing 19 interventions were included. All but 1 intervention were evaluated in primary/elementary schools. All studies reported significant intervention effects for ≥1 FMS. Meta-analyses revealed large effect sizes for overall gross motor proficiency (standardized mean difference [SMD] = 1.42, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.68–2.16, Z = 3.77, P < .0002) and locomotor skill competency (SMD = 1.42, 95% CI 0.56–2.27, Z = 3.25, P = .001). A medium effect size for object control skill competency was observed (SMD = 0.63, 95% CI 0.28–0.98, Z = 3.53, P = .0004). Many studies scored poorly for risk of bias items.
CONCLUSIONS: School- and community-based programs that include developmentally appropriate FMS learning experiences delivered by physical education specialists or highly trained classroom teachers significantly improve FMS proficiency in youth.