Physical Literacy in Youth FEMALE Athletes


Physical Literacy in Youth FEMALE Athletes 

Emily R Pappas, M.S.

Many people fail to appreciate their bodies until they become sick, injured or—let’s face it—old. But when you’re able to understand the way your body moves, responds, and adapts, starting at a young age, it will set you up for long-term strength and success.


This is the concept of PHYSICAL LITERACY.

This type of literacy is about how aware you are of your body as it MOVES; it’s about moving proficiently in a variety of physical activities with confidence, competence, and enthusiasm. However, it’s not just about actual physical movement. This also has a mental side (the cognitive processes involved in skill acquisition), as well as an emotional side (the building of self-confidence).

Studies show that adult athletes who have well established physical literacy in their youth become:

  • More confident and competent athletes in a range of movement skills

  • Quick, creative, and responsive movers

  • Versatile players

So, how do you become physically literate?

The Goal of Physical Literacy

There are two parts to physical activity:

1) Quantitative: This is WHAT and HOW MUCH you do.

2) Qualitative: This is HOW it is done.

The main goal of physical literacy in youth is to expose athletes to strength and skill-building that is focused on the QUALITY of movement patterns, not the quantity.

It’s not about how many reps can be performed or what weight they are performed at. Instead, we want to focus on MOVEMENT PROFICIENCY—in other words, how you perform.

Movement proficiency involves skill-refinement through strength training and other specific techniques to maximize your performance.

How to Enhance Youth Physical Literacy

In order to improve movement proficiency to attain physical literacy, skill-related activity must be progressively challenging and must be done in a supportive environment.

One of the best ways to do this is through WEIGHTLIFTING.

Through the snatch, clean and jerk, young female athletes are able to:

  • Develop skills and strength related to a movement

  • Progressively challenge and refine that movement through proper execution of technical skills

  • Boost their self-confidence

That last point is key, because once an athlete improves their physical strength and realizes movement proficiency, their confidence will rise as well. And with confidence always comes success.