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How Sports Activities Build Fine and Gross Motor Skills

Sports are brilliant activities which combine exercise and teamwork and can also help develop children and adults alike physically. Here at Playball London, we are firm believers in the opportunities that sports create for both physical and educational growth, which is backed up by the years of research we have put into the topic.


In particular, sports are excellent at promoting effective and refined motor skills that stay with you throughout life. This short guide is designed to explain these motor skills in a little more depth and highlight both why they’re important and how sports helps to build upon them. Let’s get into it!

What are Fine and Gross Motor Skills?

Motor skills can be categorised into two types – fine motor skills and gross motor skills. Whilst both of these categories involve physical movement, it’s the size of the movement that differentiates them.


Fine motor skills are focused on small, intricate motions that require lots of control and accuracy. In general, fine motor skills involve using small muscle groups to achieve very specific results. As an example, consider colouring in a picture; to do this effectively you have to focus on exactly where the pencil or crayon goes and make quick judgements and small motions based on what you are seeing and the results of your movements. These small and detailed tasks require increased levels of focus and control, which is why children tend to struggle with them when starting out.


On the flip side, gross motor skills are more often the use of larger muscle groups to achieve larger movements that often require a little less detail and a little more power. There are countless gross motor skills, from everyday activities like walking and running to more specific skills like batting a ball or kicking a football. All of these movements utilise lots of energy compared to fine movements like colouring in and at the same time, they involve larger muscles to be used optimally.


Whilst many people might consider the detail demanded by fine motor skills to be more challenging than the power required by gross motor skills, there’s actually much more to it than that. Both types of skill are hard to learn and require practice to perfect, it all depends on the individual and their current skill set. Someone who plays the piano or has a sewing hobby is going to find it much easier to learn other activities that demand this level of focus compared to an athlete who spends all day running or swimming. Similarly, an artist is going to find it more difficult to learn a dance routine because they aren’t used to commanding larger muscle groups with an increased level of control.


It’s always about the individual.

Why Are Fine and Gross Motor Skills Important?

Having covered the difference between fine and gross motor skills, you might be wondering why they matter at all! You don’t spend all day colouring in or running around, so why should you be concerned about these motor skills? The truth is, the examples we have used so far are incredibly specific but actually, you’re probably practising these motor skills right now.


We utilise both fine and gross motor skills almost all the time. The act of walking is a gross motor skill, as is the act of staying balanced and controlling your core muscles to stay upright. Whilst you do this without thinking about it, it is still a gross motor skill. Similarly, typing on a computer or manipulating anything with your fingers is a fine motor skill which you undoubtedly do hundreds of times a day without even thinking about it.


As with all skills, practice makes perfect, but as mentioned before, your experience doing other similarly fine motor skills or similarly gross motor skills will make it easier or harder for you to learn a new ability more quickly. This is why the different skills are important to keep in mind – because they impact how quickly and easily you can learn.


At Playball London, we offer children’s sports classes because we know how important both fine and gross motor skills are. We use sports as a way to develop children’s abilities from a young age, making it easier for them to pick up new hobbies and talents in the future.

How Sports can Help

By definition, most sports demand a variety of physical abilities be used together and incorporated into a complete skill set. The intricacies of the separate skills that make up a sport are why sport can develop both gross and fine motor skills.


Taking football as an example, the balance and speed required to move around the football pitch and change direction on a whim are all demanding on your gross motor skills. The more you practise quick movement and agility, the better you will be at controlling your body in other scenarios. Similarly, whilst moving your leg to kick a ball is a gross motor skill, changing the positioning of your foot so that you can kick the ball in a specific direction is a fine motor skill. By learning how to kick a ball accurately, you are unconsciously practising both fine and gross motor skills and ultimately, training your brain on how to control your body more easily.

This is why those who play one sport tend to be good at many and similarly, it’s why those with a foundation in sports since an early age find it easier to adapt and learn new skills.


At Playball London, we use this scientifically-backed concept to prepare our students for a future of increased learning capacity and general physical and mental aptitude. If you’re interested in our sports classes for kids, you can find out more here or get in touch.

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