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Movement Experiences for Children
KIN 366
Instructor: Dr. Shannon S.D. Bredin
Office Hours:
Class Schedule:
Important Course Pages
Lecture Notes
Course Discussion


Trapping is a manipulative fundamental motor skill that provides the foundation children need to move, control and stop a ball. By understanding the underlying concepts and learning components of trapping, proper skill assessment can be undertaken to ensure acquisition and emergence are on par with typical childhood development. Intervention may be required if the standards are not met. Since trapping is a fundamental motor skill, it is highly important that it is acquired to equip children with the tools to experience success in sport and physical activity and promote future behaviors of lifelong patterns of physical activity.


Fundamental Motor Skills

Fundamental motor skills (FMS) are specific motor movements involving many different body parts that provide the underlying foundation for which all sport specific skills are built upon (Physical Health & Education Canada, 2014). Fundamental motor skills are therefore, common motor activities with specific observable patterns (Physical Health & Education Canada, 2014).


Trapping is categorized as a manipulative FMS skill, more specifically, a striking skill which, involves controlling an object and applying a force to the object using various body parts. Trapping, therefore, provides the foundations that children need to move, control and stop a ball. To make a successful trap, the child must be able to control the ball in an efficient way in order to quickly change directions, pass to a teammate and/or shoot/kick the object for a goal (Heidorn, 2007).


Trapping is initially observed in infants and toddlers as any axially movement. Over time, progression to manipulative patterns emerge (Canadian Sport Centres, 2011). Regular emergence of trapping is between 3-6 years of age. Before this critical period, the body may not be mature enough to demonstrate the manipulative pattern successfully. After this critical period, intervention may be required if the manipulative pattern is not successfully achieved (Physical Health & Education Canada, 2014).

Acquisition & Common Characteristics

Trapping, alike all other FMS is acquired in 3 stages, initial. First is the initial discovery stage, which, focuses primarily on goal-oriented attempts such as trapping or controlling a ball along the ground. Children at this phase find it difficult to make contact with the ball. Common characteristics of trapping at this stage include children having difficulty getting in line with the object, the body is stiff and unbalanced, they are unable to absorb force of the ball and there is no ‘give’ with the ball as they make contact with it (Sport New Zealand, 2014).

Second, is the elementary development stage, which focuses on increased accuracy and control with different parts of the foot and/or body at various speeds, directions, distances. Common characteristics of trapping at this stage include poor vision tracking of the object, movements that have poor timing, confusion as to which body part to use and poor body fluidity. Children are successful in trapping a rolled ball at this stage (Sport New Zealand, 2014).

Lastly, the mature stage deals with being mechanically efficient in the skill. This is demonstrated in children’s ability to apply striking skills to unpredictable situations and combining it with other FMS such as running. Common characteristics include eye’s successfully able to track the ball, body “giving” on contact and the ability to trap objects from many different angles, speeds and levels (Sport New Zealand, 2014).

Within all of these stages, concepts of effort awareness: how the body moves, space awareness: where the body moves and body awareness: are all acquired (Canadian Sport Centres, 2011). Research indicates that it takes between 250-600 minutes of instruction for children to correctly perform a FMS (Kovacs, 2008). It is important to keep in mind that each child progresses in these developmental sequences at their own rate (Sport New Zealand, 2014).

Underlying Skill Concepts

The underlying movement concepts of trapping include balance, hand/eye coordination, strength, spatial awareness, sensory perception, range of motion, and concept understanding of series of events (Stodden & Goodway, 2007). For example, hand/eye coordination is essential as body movements rely on visual input to make adjustments for motor outputs, which, allow successful contact with and/or ability to receive an object (Stodden & Goodway, 2007).

Learning Components

Trapping with the feet and/or body includes 5 key learning components. They include the following:

  • move the body directly in the path of the ball
  • present a large surface area, (e.g. flat surface, side of foot, or trunk of body) to trap the ball
  • trapping – let the ball meet your body and deflect the ball downwards
  • keep eyes on the ball until contact is made
  • body ‘gives’ with the trap

(Sport New Zealand, 2014)

Common Problems

The most common problems children face in general when acquiring the trapping skill include the inability to keep eyes fixed on the object, the inability to maintain balance when stopping the object, the inability to correctly position body in the path of the object and failure to provide “give” as the body contacts the object (Stodden & Goodway, 2007).

Common problems associated with the technique of trapping a ball on the ground can occur in 3 different areas: inside of the foot, outside of the foot and bottom of the foot. The most prominent mistakes for inside the foot area include the ball rolling both over and under the foot, and having a too rigid foot that results in the ball bouncing too far away. Therefore, the ball is not able to remain in close contact to the foot. The most prominent mistakes for outside the foot area includes initial contact being made near the back of the foot and a stiff receiving leg that results in the ball bouncing far away. The most prominent mistake for the bottom of the foot area includes a sideways foot angle which results in stomping on the ball, ball rolls under the foot because heel is lifted to high and the ball is not firmly received therefore, bouncing away (Heidorn, 2007).

A potential reason a child may not properly acquire trapping skills is reflective of the physical education received. Teachers often overlook FMS development and children are provided with minimal practice time before engaging in organized play (Heidorn, 2007). A teacher who does not fully understand the underlying components of the movement and thinks that trapping is simply stropping the object may overlook the importance of this particular FMS (Heidorn, 2007).

Skill Assessment

It is important to assess all FMS in order to determine whether a child’s development is progressing according to the typical age standard, to determine if instructional methods are working efficiently and to implement intervention if necessary (Australia Government, Department of education and early childhood development, 1996). Trapping can be assessed quantitatively, through a specific skill test and qualitatively, through observation. When all of the components of a fundamental motor skill have been learned, the child is said to have mastered the skill (Australia Government, Department of education and early childhood development, 1996).

Importance & Benefits

Since trapping is a FMS, it is highly important that it is acquired at a young age in order to positively impact future activity patterns and behavior (Kovacs, 2008). Research has shown that children that learn FMS are more likely to participate in sports and recreational activities for a longer duration of the lifespan and that that children who received tailored FMS in physical education settings were more competent than children who were not (Stodden & Goodway, 2007).

There is growing support for the relationship of FMS skill development and physical activity into adolescence and adulthood (Physical Health & Education Canada, 2014). Research has shown that low-skilled children who have poor perceptions of their motor skill competence are less likely to seek and select physical activity in comparison to their more highly skilled peers (Kovacs, 2008). This may result in high levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior for those with poor FMS, which in turn, increases the individual’s risk of obesity and chronic disease. It is therefore, important to acquire FMS to promote engagement in physical activity later on in life which, will simultaneously lead to a host of health benefits including decreased risk of chronic disease, weight management and increased self confidence, just to name a few (Kovacs, 2008).

It is important to note that FMS are not limited to just physical activity. Manipulative skills such as trapping are applicable in daily life tasks such as hammering a nail, writing and knitting (Stodden & Goodway, 2007).

Practical Application

Included in this section are suggestions for skill acquisition and prompting questions for physical education teachers and coaches. By understanding the underlying concepts of trapping and teaching the basic FMS skills of trapping, children can be equipped with the tools to experience success in sport and physical activity and future behaviors of lifelong patterns of physical activity may be achieved (Kovacs, 2008).

Suggestions for Skill Acquisition

Suggestions to successful instruction of trapping for physical activity teachers and coaches include:

  • Progress from closed skill to a open skill. For example, teach how to trap a rolled ball prior to an elevated ball by beginning passes on the ground and progressing to different angles, speeds and levels.
  • Break down the skill into small components/sequences
  • Stress eye contact with the object
  • Emphasize and demonstrate how to get the body in the path of the object
  • Encourage “giving” with the ball to absorb the force
  • Make modifications to equipment if needed. For example, use a partially inflated ball initially before progressing to a soccer ball.
  • Allow sufficient skill practice time before engaging in organized activity

(The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation, 2008)

Suggested Questions to Prompt Learning

  • What can you do to get the ball to drop and stop immediately after it contacts your body?
  • Is it better to trap the ball with a small body part or a large body part?
  • How many ways can you stop a ball bounced?

(Sport New Zealand, 2014)


  1. Australia Government, Department of education and early childhood development. (1996). Retrieved Feb 18, 2014, from
  2. Canadian Sport Centres. (2011). Retrieved Feb 14, 2014, from
  3. Heidorn, B. (2007) Back to the basics in soccer: an emphasis on passing and trapping, strategies: A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, 21:1, 8-14, DOI:10.1080/08924562.2007.10590753
  4. Kovacs , C.R. (2008) Measuring motor skill learning: practical application & strategies. A Journal for Physical and Sport Educators, 22:2, 25-29, DOI: 10.1080/08924562.2008.10590813
  5. Physical Health & Education Canada. (2014). Retrieved Feb 15, 2014, from
  6. Sport New Zealand, New Zealand Government. (2014). Manupulative skill:striking with the feet. Retrieved Feb 17, 2014, from, 3_SPC_A4_4_manipulative-ff_WEB_feet.pdf
  7. Stodden, D & Goodway, J.D. (2007) The dynamic association between motor skill development and physical activity. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 78:8, 33-49, DOI: 10.1080/07303084.2007.10598077
  8. The Australian Council for Health, Physical Education and Recreation. (2008). Fundamental motor skill module. Retrieved Feb 16, 2014, from