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Half of primary school students unable to kick a ball properly, study finds

Half of children studied were found to be unable to kick a ball properly.

Image: Shutterstock/LeManna

ONE-QUARTER OF primary school children are unable to run properly and half can’t kick a ball properly, according to a study by researchers at Dublin City University (DCU). 

The development of running, jumping, catching and kicking skills stop progressing in children at the age of 10, the researchers found. Existing research shows that mastery of these skills is achievable by the age of eight. 

The researchers considered this finding significant as it can cause an aversion to sports and physical activity in adolescence in children who don’t reach these milestones. 

The head of the DCU School of Health and Human Performance, Dr Sarahjane Belton, said it is “time now for action” on this issue. 

“We need to focus our attention nationally on developing physical literacy capacities and capabilities in our children and young people,” said Belton in a statement.

“We need to help them develop the tools needed to enable them to live long, healthy and active lives. At the moment we are failing our kids badly, and that is a very sad situation.”

Over 2,000 children aged between five and 12 in primary schools across the country were studied. The researchers found a notable difference between boys and girls in certain skills such as ball skills and balance. 

Boys displayed a greater proficiency in ball skills including throwing and catching, while girls scored higher in skills requiring control of the body such as balance and skipping.  

The research was undertaken as part of the Moving Well-Being Well project to assess the current situation in the country in relation to these issues, as well as intervening in improving the fitness, wellbeing and physical competence in children.

Dr Stephen Behan of the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics in DCU said the results highlight the “poor levels of basic skills in Irish children”. 

“If children don’t have a solid foundation of basic movement skills, how can we expect them to do more complex skills as part of organised sport?

“This solid foundation is what allows children to take part in a multitude of physical activities, and to feel confident in trying new things,” Behan said. 

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