How Is Physical Literacy Defined? A Contemporary Update

in Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
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Physical literacy continues to gain global momentum, yet the definition and underlying concept of physical literacy remain contested in both research and practice. This lack of clarity has the potential to undermine the operationalization of physical literacy. This paper considers the various definitions of physical literacy that are currently adopted internationally. Physical literacy experts identified seven leading groups that have established physical literacy initiatives. Although each group is unified in using the term physical literacy, there are contrasting definitions and interpretations of the concept. Common themes were identified, including the (a) influence of physical literacy philosophy, (b) core elements of physical literacy, (c) lifelong nature of physical literacy, and (d) the need to scientifically pursue a robust operationalization of the concept. We conclude by recommending that programs relating to physical literacy should provide a definition, a clear philosophical approach, and transparency with how their actions align with this approach.

Shearer, Knowles, Boddy, and Foweather are with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Goss and Durden-Myers are with the Faculty of Education, Health and Community, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Edwards is with the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, College of Engineering, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom. Keegan is with the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, Bruce, Canberra, Australia.

Address author correspondence to Lawrence Foweather at L.Foweather@ljmu.ac.uk.
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