Psychology Wiki

Assessment | Biopsychology | Comparative | Cognitive | Developmental | Language | Individual differences | Personality | Philosophy | Social |
Methods | Statistics | Clinical | Educational | Industrial | Professional items | World psychology |

Cognitive Psychology: Attention · Decision making · Learning · Judgement · Memory · Motivation · Perception · Reasoning · Thinking  - Cognitive processes Cognition - Outline Index

This article is in need of attention from a psychologist/academic expert on the subject.
Please help recruit one, or improve this page yourself if you are qualified.
This banner appears on articles that are weak and whose contents should be approached with academic caution.

A motor skill is a skill that requires an organism to utilize their skeletal muscles effectively in a goal directed manner. Motor skills and motor control depend upon the proper functioning of the brain (particularly the motor system), as wellas the skeleton, joints, and nervous system. Most motor skills are learned throughout the lifespan and can be affected by disabilities. Motor development is the development of action and coordination of one's limbs, as well as the development of strength, posture control, balance, and perceptual skills.

Motor skills are into two parts:

  • Gross motor skills include lifting one's head, rolling over, sitting up, balancing, crawling, and walking. Gross motor development usually follows a pattern. Generally large muscles develop before smaller ones. Thus, gross motor development is the foundation for developing skills in other areas (such as fine motor skills). Development also generally moves from top to bottom. The first thing a baby usually learns is to control is its eyes.
  • Fine motor skills include the ability to manipulate small objects, transfer objects from hand to hand, and various hand-eye coordination tasks. Fine motor skills may involve the use of very precise motor movement in order to achieve an especially delicate task. Some examples of fine motor skills are using the pincer grasp (thumb and forefinger) to pick up small objects, cutting, coloring and writing, and threading beads. Fine motor development refers to the development of skills involving the smaller muscle groups.

Fine Motor Disabilities negatively impact a child's performance in school but have no bearing on their intellectual ability. It strictly speaks to an individual’s struggle to control the small muscles in their hand as they write. Since communication in the form of writing is important and still heavily relied upon in our society and schools, kids with this disability face a variety of obstacles. Simply writing their name is not only time consuming, it may also end up illegible. To make their work legible, these individuals must exert a great deal of focus and energy which leaves very little left over for concentrating on what they are writing about.

Sports psychologists believe there are three different categories of skill: cognitive, perceptual, and motor.

Disabilities affecting motor skills

See also

References & Bibliography

Key texts



  • Miall R.C. (2002) Motor control, biological and theoretical. in Handbook of Brain Theory and Neural Network, edition 2. M.A. Arbib (ed.), Bradford Books, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 686-689. Full text

Additional material


  • Welford, A.T. (1976) Skilled Performance: Perceptual and Motor Skills, Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman.


  • Google Scholar
  • Twining, W.E. (1949) Mental practice and physical practice in learning a motor skill, Research Quarterly 20:432-5.
  • Fitts, P.M. (1964) Perceptual motor skill learning. In: A.W. Melton (ed.) Categories of Human Learning, New York: Academic Press.
  • Melnick, M.J. (1971) Effects of overlearning on the retention of a gross motor skill, Research Quarterly 42: 60-9.
  • lanniruberto, A. (1985) Prenatal onset of motor patterns. Paper presented at the Conference on Motor Skill Acquisition, NATO Advanced Study Institute, Maastricht, Netherlands. Cited in G. Bremner (1988) Infancy, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
  • Annett, J. (1986) On knowing how to do things. In: H. Heuer and G. Fromm (eds) Generation and Modulation of Action Patterns, Berlin: Springer.
  • Annett, J. (1989) Skills. In: A,M. Colman and J.G. Beaumont (eds) Psychology Survey 7, London: British Psychological Society/Routledge.

External links

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).