What is Physical Literacy?

Physical literacy is the ability and motivation to use physical movements to make a significant contribution to a person’s quality of life.

Physically literate individuals can understand, communicate, apply, and analyze a variety of forms of bodily movement. They are able to demonstrate a variety of movements confidently, competently, and creatively across a wide range of physical activities. These skills enable individuals to make healthy, active choices that are both beneficial to and respectful of themselves, others, and their environment.

The goal of physical education (“P.E.”) or recreational education is the development of physical literacy. One element of physical Literacy is the mastering of basic human movements and basic sport skills that permit a child to read their environment and make appropriate decisions, allowing them to move confidently and with control in a wide range of physical activity situations. Physical literacy is the foundation of both participation and excellence in physical activity and sport.

Physically literate individuals display the following attributes:

  • Individuals who are physically literate will move with poise, economy and confidence in a wide variety of physically challenging situations.
  • Physically literate individuals will be perceptive in ‘reading’ all aspects of the physical environment, anticipating movement needs or possibilities and responding appropriately to these with intelligence and imagination.
  • These individuals will have a well-established sense of self as embodied in the world. This, together with an articulate interaction with the environment, will engender positive self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • Sensitivity to and awareness of embodied capability will lead to fluent self-expression through non-verbal communication and to perceptive and empathetic interaction with others.
  • In addition, physically literate individuals will have the ability to identify and articulate the essential qualities that influence the effectiveness of their own movement performance, and will have an understanding of the principles of embodied health with respect to basic aspects such as exercise, sleep and nutrition.
  • Physically literate individuals, in addition to having the ability of performing various physical skills, sports movements with ease and poise, will also have the ability to use the body and body segments while carrying out the daily activities like sitting, sleeping, mounting steps, getting down from height, carrying weights etc. so that there will be no negative impact on the body alignment and spinal posture.

Resources

PHE Canada

Sport For Life Canada

Indigenous Long–Term Participant Development Pathway
Sport for Life for all Newcomers to Canada
Developing Physical Literacy – Building a New Normal for all Canadians