Gross-motor skills are those that enable us to move around our environment and engage in games and sport. They include skills such as walking, running, jumping, climbing, throwing and catching, as well as balance and postural stability. Gross-motor skills predominantly use the large muscle groups in the trunk, arms and legs. They are also dependant on good sensory-motor development which involves body and limb awareness, and motor-planning skills. Gross-motor skills are the basis from which children develop other skills such as fine-motor skills and self-help skills.


If your child is showing any of the following signs, they may be experiencing gross-motor difficulties.

  • Delayed development milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking, jumping
  • Balance difficulties, falls easily or appears clumsy
  • Tires easily or has low energy levels
  • Avoids physical activities and games
  • Has difficulty performing self-care activities
  • Has poor attention
  • Writes or colours with a flexed wrist


What you can do to help

Core strength activities                                                                                       

  • Core strength activities help develop good posture and improves muscle strength in the trunk, hips and shoulders.
  • Kneeling – four-point kneeling, high kneeling, and half-kneeling when playing
  • ‘Bear walks’ and ‘crab walks’ on hands and feet
  • ‘Bridging’ – lying on back with knees bent and lifting pelvis off the floor
  • Moving on an exercise ball


Balance activities

  • Balance activities improve dynamic balance, automatic postural reactions and core strength.
  • Sitting, standing or kneeling on a wobble board or platform swing
  • Sitting on an exercise ball
  • Single leg standing, kicking a football
  • Stepping up and down from different heights, stairs
  • Stop/start and ‘freeze’ games
  • Walking on uneven ground, stepping stones, narrow beams
  • Walking on toes or heels
  • Walking along straight and curved lines on the floor


Motor planning and sensory activities

The following activities can help to improve body awareness and organisation of body in response to sensory input such as touch, body position, movement sense, vision, and hearing.

  • Obstacle courses
  • Imitation games – Follow the Leader, Simon-says, dancing
  • Climbing ladders and climbing apparatus
  • Galloping, marching, and skipping
  • Wheelbarrows, scooter-boarding
  • Jumping on trampoline, swinging



Crawling helps to improve core strength, upper limb strength and shoulder stability, bilateral coordination and weight-shifting skills. These are beneficial for fine-motor activities and improving body awareness..

  • Crawling through tunnels or boxes
  • Crawling over large cushions
  • Crawling up and down stairs or slopes


Walking and running

  • Develops aerobic fitness, muscle strength, dynamic balance skills, understanding of momentum, and spatial awareness.
  • Walking on stepping stones or on stairs
  • Walking along lines or narrow beams
  • Carrying large objects whilst walking
  • Walking on uneven or moving surfaces
  • Playing ‘tag’, football, Frisbee games
  • Pushing and pulling objects
  • Stepping over hurdles
  • Stop/start and relay games


Jumping and hopping

  • Jumping improves core and lower limb strength, timing and rhythm, bilateral coordination and visual perception skills.
  • Jumping on the spot, on a trampoline or cushions
  • Jumping over hurdles
  • Jumping down from steps
  • Jumping in different directions
  • Hopping and jumping consecutively
  • Star jumps, jumping jacks, hopscotch games


Ball games

  • Ball games are excellent for eye-hand coordination and bilateral coordination which have carryover benefits for classroom activities.
  • Rolling or throwing a ball to a target
  • Catching balls of different sizes or weights
  • Bouncing and catching a ball
  • Hitting a ball with a racquet/bat, batting a balloon
  • Playing skittles

If you have concerns about your child’s gross-motor development, consult a physiotherapist or occupational therapist who can assess your child and advise on appropriate activities for your child.