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Exploring Locomotor Movements in PE: Unpacking Locomotor Skills and Outlining Teaching Strategies

Locomotor movement is an integral element of physical education, and it involves various skills that enable individuals to travel from one place to another. This type of movement requires the use of specific muscles to propel the body forward, backward, or sideways. When teaching physical education, it is essential to provide a foundation in locomotor skills that will enable students to participate in a wide variety of motor activities. Locomotor skills are fundamental in promoting physical fitness, enhancing coordination, and developing an active lifestyle.

Incorporating Locomotor Movement into Physical Education Classes: Tips and Strategies

In this blog post, I will be exploring locomotor movements in physical education. You can find a thorough overview of what it is, the types of movements within that category, their associated benefits and methods to teach them in a PE class. Let's get moving, shall we!


What is locomotor movement?

Locomotor movement is the act of moving from one place to another and involves the use of different muscles and coordination levels to propel the body in a desired direction. It includes basic movements such as walking, running, skipping, hopping and jumping, as well as more complex skills like slide stepping, leaping and galloping. With regular practice and repetition of these movements, children can gain a mastery over them, rapidly improving their skill level.

Locomotor Movement

These fundamental motor abilities are needed for successful participation in physical activities such as playing sports and carrying out aerobic exercises. Additionally, these basic motor skills can also be used to create meaningful movement sequences and dance combinations. To put it plainly, locomotor movement is the cornerstone of numerous physical activities and helps individuals to cultivate more complex skills within their physical education classes.


Benefits of teaching locomotor movement

Locomotor movement is an essential component of physical education, and it refers to the movements that involve the transfer of the body from one place to another. When children develop locomotor skills in PE classes, the movements provide several benefits including:

  • Improved cardiovascular health: Locomotor movement involves movements that require physical effort, which can improve cardiovascular health by increasing heart rate and improving blood circulation. This, in turn, can help with a child's physical development and reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Inside/Outside - Around the World (Outside person performs locomotor movement around the gym

  • Increased muscle strength: Locomotor movement requires the use of different muscle groups, particularly those in the lower body, such as the legs, glutes, and hips. Practicing locomotor movements can help to increase muscle strength in these areas, which can improve overall physical fitness and performance.

  • Enhanced coordination and balance: Locomotor movement involves the coordination of different body parts, such as the arms, legs, and trunk, which can enhance coordination and balance. This can improve gross motor skills, overall body control and reduce the risk of injury during physical activity.

  • Promotes an active lifestyle: Incorporating locomotor movement into physical education classes can encourage students to adopt an active lifestyle. Regular physical activity has several health benefits, including improving mental health, reducing stress, and enhancing overall well-being.

  • Enhanced creativity: Learning locomotor movements can help to boost creativity by providing students with an opportunity to create their own unique combinations of movements. This can also be used as a form of self-expression, helping them express themselves through physical activity.

  • Increased confidence: When children develop a locomotor skill, it can lead to improved coordination and balance, which gives them more confidence when participating in physical activities such as sports or dance classes. Additionally, mastering these skills can provide a sense of accomplishment that boosts self-esteem and overall confidence levels.

  • Socialization: Locomotor movement can be performed in groups, which provides an opportunity for students to socialize and interact with their peers. This can help to develop teamwork and communication skills, which are valuable in various aspects of life.

Power Shuttle Fitness - Locomotor Movement and Strength Exercises

Does implementing locomotor movement activities in physical education help address standards?

Educators should consider teaching fundamental movement skills to help meet district, state or national physical education standards. Through these activities, students can learn and apply knowledge of concepts, principles, strategies and tactics related to movement and performance--allowing them the opportunity to reach SHAPE America's Standard 2 with ease!

SHAPE America Standard 2


What are the types of common locomotor movements used in physical education classes?

Basic locomotor skills are movements that involve the transfer of the body from one place to another within a space. In physical education classes, there are some common (main) locomotor skills that are practiced and taught, which include:


Walking is a type of locomotor movement that involves the transfer of weight from one foot to another in a coordinated manner. Walking is one of the most fundamental physical activities, and it can be used as a mode of transportation or as an exercise. Walking requires full body coordination, and it engages almost every muscle group in the body.

Walking Cues


Running is a type of locomotor movement that involves much faster and longer strides than walking. It is a form of aerobic exercise that increases heart rate and breathing, helping to build endurance, improve cardiovascular health, and strengthen muscles. When running, the body should be in an upright position with relaxed arms and shoulders while the head is held up straight.

Running Cues


Galloping is a locomotor movement that involves traveling with one foot always in the lead. The back leg of the body (opposite foot) should trail behind the front rather than take a leading position. Galloping primarily engages the hip flexors and quadriceps, as well as other muscles in the legs.

Galloping Cues


Skipping is a locomotor movement that involves alternating between the left and right feet while hopping off the ground. It helps to improve coordination, balance, and agility, as well as cardiovascular endurance.

Skipping Cues

Slide Stepping (Sliding)

Slide stepping, also known as sliding, is a locomotor movement that involves the transfer of weight from one foot to another while alternating a gliding motion with each step. It requires significant coordination and balance, and involves stepping sideways with one foot leading while the other foot slides along the ground. During slide stepping, both feet should move in the same direction.

Slide Stepping Cues


Jumping is a type of locomotor movement that involves pushing off the ground and reaching both feet simultaneously in a coordinated manner. Through jumping, you can improve your balance, power and coordination while simultaneously building strength in your leg muscles.

Jumping Cues


Hopping is a type of locomotor movement that involves one foot taking off from the ground and landing on the same foot. It helps to improve agility, coordination, and kinesthetic awareness, as well as strengthen individual leg muscles.

Hopping Cues


Leaping is a type of locomotor movement that involves jumping off one foot and landing on the other foot with a larger distance between them, as compared to hopping. This movement requires greater strength, agility, and coordination than walking or running. Leaping involves bending at the knees and hips while pushing off the ground in a powerful and coordinated manner.

Leaping Cues

Crab Walking

Crab walking is a locomotor movement that involves assuming a sitting position and moving by using the hands and feet to propel the body in the same direction. It involves using an alternating pattern of hand and foot movements, similar to walking on all fours. Crab walking helps improve coordination, balance, and agility, as well as core and upper body strength.

Crab Walking Cues

These highlighted examples are just nine of the most common types of locomotor movements that students can perform in a PE class. Other locomotor movements include but are not limited to rolling or crawling on the ground, performing animal walks, and scooting on a scooter board. Incorporating different locomotor skills into physical education activities and games can help to keep students active and engaged.

The visuals highlighted above can be found on capnpetespowerpe website and also on TPT.


Tips for teaching locomotor movement

Teaching locomotor movement skills in physical education can be a fun and engaging experience for children. Here are some tips for teaching locomotor movement in physical education:

  1. Demonstrate the Movements: To teach locomotor movement, start by demonstrating the movements yourself. This will help the children to understand how to perform the movements correctly.

  2. Break Down the Movements: Break down the movements into smaller parts and teach them one at a time. For example, when teaching running, start by teaching the correct posture, then the arm swing, and finally the leg movement.

  3. Practice Makes Perfect: Encourage children to practice the movements regularly. Regular practice will help them to develop their skills and become more confident in performing the movements.

  4. Incorporate Fun Activities: Make the learning experience fun by incorporating games and activities that involve a previously practiced skill. For example, playing a game of tag or obstacle courses.

Four Corner Fitness - Locomotor Movements; Corner to Corner


Ways to implement locomotor movement activities in PE

Locomotor movement is an essential component of physical education, and there are several ways that it can be implemented in a physical education class. The following are ten ways that locomotor activities can be integrated into a physical education class:

  • Warm-up activities: Locomotor movement can be incorporated into warm-up activities, such as jogging, skipping, and jumping jacks, to get the heart rate up and prepare the body for physical activity.

  • Relay races: Relay races are a fun and engaging way to incorporate locomotor movement into physical education classes. Students can race against each other while performing various locomotor movements, such as running, hopping, or galloping.

  • Obstacle courses: Obstacle courses can be designed to include different types of locomotor movements, such as jumping over hurdles, crawling under obstacles, and running through cones.

Indoor Speed and Agility- Obstacle Course

  • Dance routines: Choreographed dance routines can be designed to include different types of locomotor movements, such as skipping, hopping, and running.

  • Circuit training: Circuit training can include stations that require different types of locomotor movements, such as running in place, jumping jacks, and high knees.

  • Tag games: Tag games can be modified to include different types of locomotor movements, such as hopping or galloping, to make the game more challenging and engaging.

  • Sport-specific drills: Sport-specific drills can include different types of locomotor movements, such as running drills for soccer or basketball.

  • Fitness testing: Fitness testing can include measuring the distance or time for different types of locomotor movements, such as a one-mile run or a timed hop.

  • Cross-training: Cross-training can include different types of locomotor movements to improve overall physical fitness and prevent injuries.

  • Cool-down activities: Cool-down activities can include slower-paced locomotor movements, such as walking or light jogging, to gradually decrease the heart rate and prevent injury.


Final thoughts

Incorporating locomotor movement is a crucial aspect of physical education, and it provides several benefits to your students, including improved cardiovascular health, enhanced coordination, increased muscle strength, and socialization. These benefits highlight the importance of incorporating locomotor movement into physical education classes to enhance overall physical fitness and well-being. Incorporating these skills into your PE classes is a great way to keep students active and engaged in the lessons your create.

By implementing the tips I’ve outlined in this article, you can help your students become more confident and skilled at performing different types of locomotor movements. From warm-up activities to tag games, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate these activities into your PE curriculum. With regular practice and fun games that involve locomotor movement, you will be sure to see improved fitness levels and an increased confidence from your students!

How do you incorporate locomotor movement activities in your PE classes? Share your ideas with all of us! We would love to hear how you’re getting your students moving and engaged in your physical education lessons.

Check out one of my previous articles that examines non-locomotor skills. It is entitled Moving Without Moving: Incorporating Non-Locomotor Movement in Elementary Physical Education Classes.


Need Resources

Do you need some simple, easy to read locomotor movement visuals for your gym or classroom bulletin board? If so, Cap'n Pete's Power PE has you covered!

Locomotor Movement- Top 10 Movement Visuals- Simple Large Print Design

Fill in the form below to download the Locomotor Movement- Top 10 Movement Visuals- Simple Large Print Design for your learning area. This Top 10- Locomotor Movement set is a simple, large print, kid friendly, easy to read visual package of commonly taught locomotor movement skills. Physical education teachers can use these signs to display on their bulletin boards and gym walls or use as visual aids during instructional segments in their daily lessons.

This freebie visual set will be sure to enhance your PE curriculum for years


Need more resources to help with your teaching?

The following Locomotor Movement Poster Bundle (as depicted above in the blog post article) includes 9 different posters that illustrate and describe cues for the following movements: crab walking, galloping, hopping, jumping, leaping running, skipping, slide-stepping and walking. Cap'n Pete's PE Poster Bundle: Locomotor Movement- 9 Movement Cue Posters break down the steps involved in performing each locomotor movement. The movements portrayed are “standards-based” and are important for students to master in order to be successful in games and activities during their physical education classes and future lifetime sports.

PE Poster Bundle: Locomotor Movement- 9 Movement Cue Posters

You can download the bundle (or individual resources) from either of the following platforms: Cap'n Pete's Power PE Website or Teachers Pay Teachers- Cap'n Pete's TPT Store



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