Below is an essential reading list for Motor Development research.


History and Overviews of Motor Development

Adolph, K. E., Robinson, S. R. (2015). Motor development. In L. Liben & U. Muller (Eds.), Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (7th ed., Vol. 2 Cognitive processes). New York, NY: Wiley, pp. 114-157.

Clark, J. E. & Whitall, J. (1989). What is motor development? The lessons of history. Quest, 41(3), 183-202.

Halverson, L., Roberton, M. A., & Harper, C. (1973). Current research in motor development. Journal of Research and Development in Education, 6, 56-70.

Malina R. M. (2004). Motor development during infancy and early childhood: Overview and suggested directions for research. International Journal of Sport and Health Science, 2, 50-66.

Thelen, E. (2000). Motor development as foundation and future of developmental psychology. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 24(4), 385–397.

Ulrich, B. (2007). Motor development: Core curricular concepts. Quest, 59, 77-91.

Malina, R. M. (2014). Top 10 research questions related to growth and maturation of relevance to physical activity, performance, and fitness. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 85(2), 157-173.


Adolph, K. E., & Robinson, S. R (2011): Sampling Development. Journal of Cognition and Development, 12(4), 411-423.

Deutsch, K. M. & Newell, K. M. (2005). Noise, variability, and the development of children’s perceptual motor skills. Developmental Review, 25(2), 155-180.

Lobo, M. A., Harbourne, R. T., Dusing, S. C., & Westcott McCoy, S. (2013) Grounding early intervention: Physical therapy cannot just be about motor skills anymore. Physical Therapy, 93(1), 94-103.

Pesce, C. (2012). Shifting the focus from quantitative to qualitative exercise characteristics in exercise and cognition research. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 34, 766–786.

Research studies

Barnett, L. M., Morgan, P. J., van Beurden, E., & Beard, J. R. (2008). Perceived sports competence mediates the relationship between childhood motor skill proficiency and adolescent physical activity and fitness: A longitudinal assessment. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 5, 40.

Clark, J. E., Whitall, J., & Phillips, S. J. (1988). Human interlimb coordination and control: The first 6 months of independent walking. Developmental Psychobiology 21, 445-456.

Diamond, A. (2000). Close interrelation of motor development and cognitive development and of the cerebellum and prefrontal cortex. Developmental Psychology, 71, 44–56.

Iivonen, S., & Sääkslahti, A. K. (2014). Preschool children’s fundamental motor skills: A review of significant determinants. Early Child Development and Care, 184(7), 1107–1126.

Laukkanen A., Pesola A., Havu M., Sääkslahti A., & Finni T. (2014).  Relationship between habitual physical activity and gross motor skills is multifaceted in 5- to 8-year-old children.  Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sport, 24(2), e102-e110.

Lopes, V. P., Rodrigues, L. P., Maia, J. A. R., & Malina, R. M. (2011). Motor coordination the predictor of physical activity in childhood. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports, 21, 663-669.

Lopes, V. P., Stodden, D. F., Bianchi, M. M., Maia, J. A. R. & Rodrigues, L. P. (2012). Correlation between BMI and motor coordination in children. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 15(1), 38-43.

Piek, J. P., Dawson, L., Smith, L. M., & Gasson, N. (2008). The role of early fine and gross motor development on later motor and cognitive ability. Human Movement Science, 27(5), 668–681.

Roberton, M. A., & Halverson, L. (1988). The development of locomotor coordination: Longitudinal change and invariance. Journal of Motor Behavior, 20, 197-241.

Roebers, C. M., Roethlisberger, M., Neuenschwander, R., Cimeli, P., Michel, E. & Jäger, K. (2014). The relation between cognitive and motor performance and their relevance for children’s transition to school: A latent variable approach. Human Movement Science, 24, 284-297.

Rudd, J., Butson, M. L., Barnett, L., Farrow, D., Berry, J., Borkoles, E., & Polman, R. (2016). A holistic measurement model of movement competency in children.  Journal of Sport Sciences, 34(5), 477-485.

Theory and constructs

Clark, J. E., & Metcalfe, J. S. (2002). Mountain of motor development: A metaphor.  In J. E. Clark & J. H. Humphrey (Eds.), Motor Development: Research and Reviews. Reston, VA: NASPE Publications, pp.163-190.

Gibson, E. J. (1982).  The concept of affordances in development: The renascence of functionalism. In W.A. Collins (Ed.), The Concept of Development. Minnesota Symposium on Child Psychology (Vol. 15). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, pp. 55-81.

Gibson, J. J. (1979). The theory of affordances.  In An Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston, MA: Houghton-Mifflin.

Holt, K. (2005). Biomechanical models, motor control theory, and development. Infant and Child Development, 14, 523-527.

Kugler, P. N., Kelso, J. A. S., & Turvey, M. T. (1982). On the control and coordination of naturally developing systems. In J. A. S. Kelso & J. E. Clark (Eds.), The Development of Movement Control and Coordination. Chichester, England: John Wiley & Sons.

Newell, K. M. (1986). Constraints on the development of coordination. In M. Wade, H. T. A. Whiting (Eds.): Motor Development in Children: Aspects of Coordination and Control. Dordrecht, Germany: Martinus Nijhoff, pp. 341-360.

Roberton, M. A. (1977). Stability of stage categorizations across trials: Implications for the "stage theory" of over-arm throw development. Journal of Human Movement Studies, 3, 49-59.

Spencer, J. P., Perone, S. & Buss, A. T. (2011). Twenty years and going strong: A dynamic systems revolution in motor and cognitive development. Child Development Perspectives, 5(4), 260 – 266.

Stodden, D., Goodway, J. D., Langendorfer, S. J., Roberton, M. A. Rudisill, M. E., Garcia, C., & Garcia, L. E. (2008).  A developmental perspective on the role of motor skill competence in physical activity: An emergent relationship. Quest, 60(2), 290-306.

Thelen, E. (1995). Motor development: A new synthesis. American Psychologist, 50(2), 79-95.

Thelen, E. (2005). Dynamic systems theory and the complexity of change. Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 15, 255-283.

Turvey, M. T., Fitch, H. L., & Tuller, B. (1982). The Bernstein perspective: I. The problems of degrees of freedom and context-conditioned variability. In J. A. S. Kelso (Ed.), Understanding Human Motor Control. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Tuller, B., Fitch, H. L., & Turvey, M. T. (1982). The Bernstein perspective: II. The concept of muscle linkage or coordinative structure. In J. A. S. Kelso (Ed.), Understanding Human Motor Control. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.

Oldies but Goodies

Bayley, N. (1936). The California Infant Scale of Motor Development. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Darwin, C. (1877). A biographical sketch of an infant. Mind, 2, 285-294.

Gesell, A. (1939). Reciprocal interweaving in neuromotor development. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 70, 161-180.

Halverson, L. (1966). Development of motor patterns in young children. Quest, 6, 44-53.

McCaskill, C., & Wellman, B. (1938). A study of common motor achievements in the preschool ages. Child Development, 9, 141-150

McGraw, M. (1935/1975). Growth - A study of Johnny and Jimmy. New York, NY: Appleton-Century/Arno Press.

Platt, J. R. (1964). Strong Inference. Science, 146, 347-353.

Roberton, M. A. (1972). Developmental kinesiology. Journal of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation, 43(8), 65-66.