Background: Acquiring the capability of moving with proficiency throughout the life can be considered as one of the key aspects of human development. Building a broad and proficient
motor repertoire, in the first decade of life, can be a determining factor in order to, later in life, be enrolled in physical activity programs and sport practice. Contemporary lifestyles have lead
to a dramatic reduction of physical activity enrollment even in children. Moreover, several studies have indirectly indicated motor delay of fundamental motor skills in Brazilian children, and a more
representative and direct diagnosis is needed in order to better examine motor proficiency of these children. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to diagnose the proficiency level of fundamental
motor skills in São Paulo city children.
Methods: Three hundred and eighty-three children (6-, 8- and 10-years-old), from all five geographic regions of São Paulo city (North, South, East, West, and Downtown) participated of
this study. Data collection took place at selected schools when children were videotaped performing the locomotor and object control subtest skills of the Test of Gross Motor Development, 2nd edition
(TGMD-2). Three trained examiners, using the performance criteria for each of the motor skills, examined the motor skill performance in order to obtain the raw scores, equivalent motor age and gross
motor quotient for each child.
Results: The results revealed that children from Sao Paulo are lagging behind the expected proficiency level of the fundamental motor skills. Regardless of gender, city or region, the
equivalent motor age is below the respective chronological age for both locomotor and object-control skills. Moreover, the observed delay is accentuated as chronological age increases, suggesting
that children seem to "accumulate" motor delays with age. Based on the evaluation criteria of TGMD-2, children from São Paulo city were classified as "poor", at the age of 6-year-old, and "very poor",
at the 8- and 10-year-old.
Conclusions: This finding is alarming because If children do not reach proficiency in the fundamental motor skills, which are the basis for building a motor repertoire, they may be
limited in the acquisition of new and more complex specific skills and consequently could quit from practicing since they have difficulties to perform the necessary movements. Based upon these
results, it might be suggested that measures must be taken in order to ensure that our children master and become proficient in the fundamental motor skills.