The importance of fundamental movement skill (FMS) and movement competency (MC) through childhood and adolescence has been well established in the research literature (Collins et al., 2010; Lloyd and Oliver, 2012; Lubens et al., 2010; Robinson et al., 2015). In addition, the constructs of effective talent development environments have been identified previously (Martindale et al., 2007). However, there is little evidence outlining FMS and MC performance as youth athletes transition through stages of a talent pathway and whether FMS and MC are enhanced if youth athletes have already been part of a talent pathway, albeit at a more junior stage (i.e. an effective talent development environment). Thus, the aim of this study is to provide retrospective analysis of FMS and MC from Millfield Prep School (MPS) and Non-Millfield Prep School (NMPS) youth athletes as they transition into Millfield Senior School (MSS). It is hoped the finding of this study provide the opportunity to consider a coherent, developmental and effective approach to enhance FMS and MC within a talent pathway.
59 youth athletes were recruited in the study. 27 joined MSS from MPS and 29 joined MSS from a NMPS. All participants completed an assessment of FMS and MC. Both assessments satisfied the criteria for FMS and MC as outlined by Hulteen et al. (2018). The FMS assessment consisted of A-walk and hold, arabesque walk and hold, lunge walk and hop and stick. The FMS assessment was scored from 0-4 points per exercise and collectively out of 16 points. The MC assessment was an overhead squat. The MC assessment was scored from 0-6 points. Both FMS and MC assessments were completed by a qualified physical training practitioner.
In order to compare FMS and MC performance between MPS and NMPS, an independent samples t-test was conducted. For FMS, this test was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05). The effect size for this analysis (d = 0.38) was found to exceed Cohen’s (1988) convention for a small effect (d = 0.2). These results indicate that individuals in the NMPS group (M = 22.58, SD = 4.1) performed better, with a low practical significance in the FMS assessment than individuals in the MPS group (M = 20.94, SD = 4.62). For MC, this test was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.05). The effect size for this analysis (d = 0.19) did not exceed Cohen’s (1988) convention for a small effect (d = 0.2). These results indicate that individuals in the MPS group (M = 3.70, SD = 1.50) performed better, but with trivial practical significance in the MC assessment than individuals in the NMPS group (M = 3.95, SD = 1.0).
These results provide a novel insight into the FMS and MC of two cohorts of youth athletes transitioning onto a talent pathway. These results suggest youth athletes that transitioned within the talent pathway (i.e. MPS to MSS) performed no better in FMS or MC compared to youth athletes transitioning into the talent pathway (i.e. NMPS to MSS). Authors have previously highlighted the importance of vertically orientated and coherent coaching practice within a talent pathway to support the longitudinal development of youth athletes (Webb, 2019). Given the findings presented in this study, physical training practitioners with a talent pathway should work coherently to ensure the long-term development and quality preparation of FMS and MC for all youth athletes at all ages. This process may be enhanced through the early and deliberate preparation of FMS and MC, the effective communication of training aims and an alignment of expectations at each stage of development.