Rudimentary movement patterns

The first forms of voluntary movement are rudimentary movements. They are seen in the infant, beginning at birth until about age two (Gallahue et al, 2012). Rudimentary movement patterns are based on the early movement patterns that link the reflexive stage of development to the fundamental movement stage of development in children. The rudimentary movement patterns involve stability movements like learning to control the head, neck, and trunk muscles; the manipulative tasks of reaching, grasping, and releasing; and the locomotor motions of creeping, crawling, and walking (Gallahue et al, 2012). The locomotor movement patterns are particularly important for transferring to fundamental and eventually sports specific rugby skills. In the creeping and crawling rudimentary movements the child learns to complete same sided and cross body movements which assist in symmetrical (both sides the same) development. Rolling is another rudimentary movement pattern that is important for the use of core musculature and symmetrical development (Gill et al 2009). Core strength and symmetrical development are important for a number of activities and skills in the game of rugby and so these rudimentary movements are necessary to develop in players.

While rudimentary movement patterns are developed from birth until about two years old, they can be very useful movements to include in training programmes of any age group as these movements provide a great foundation for more sport specific work to be built on. These early developmental movement patterns have been used to assess movement limitations and have been used with positive results for improving movement patterns in adult athletes and non-athletes. They have also been effective in reducing movement restrictions and improving range of motion (Gill et al 2009, Haynes 2003). Consequently, there is support and evidence to show that rolling, crawling and creeping exercises can be productively used by the coach in both the assessment of movement patterns and in assisting with the development of better movement patterns. Crawling and rolling for example develop the deep lying core muscles and teach these muscles how and when to contract to protect the spine and facilitate movement. This is useful for a child who is developing movement skills but it is also useful for an adult who may not have the core muscle function needed to perform effectively on the field or in the gym.

The key rudimentary movement patterns

The key rudimentary movement patterns and an exercise example associated with each pattern are detailed below.

The first pattern is opening and closing. This can be described as tucking and spreading or extending the limbs. It is a core to extremities movement pattern which is important as control of the core comes first during childhood and then we progress to controlling the extremities (wrists. Hands fingers etc.). A simple exercise for this movement pattern is the tuck and star shape and is highlighted in the video below. The child will start by lying on the back and then, slowly, and smoothly tucking in the arms and knees and then in a controlled manner opening the limbs out to resemble a star.

The second pattern is arching. This is a pattern which involves flexion and extension of the spine or curling up and straightening out. An exercise to address this pattern is the sky dive posture and this is demonstrated in the video below. The child will roll on to the tummy and from this position they will spread their arms and legs out like a star and then arch like a skydiver.

The third rudimentary pattern requires the child to coordinate upper and lower body rocking. The frog on the stomach and frog on the hands and knees are two variations that can be used for this movement pattern and they are both demonstrated in the video below. For the frog on the stomach, the child rests on their tummy but with their elbows resting on the floor and supporting their upper body. Note the legs are extended behind with the lower foot and toes flexed and resting on the floor. From here the child rocks back and forward pivoting on the toes and elbows. The frog on the hands and knees again involves a similar movement patter but the child is on their hands and knees rocking the body back and forward and pivoting about the wrists and knees.


The fourth pattern consists of rolling and the log roll and the rocket roll are detailed below. Rolling is a great way to develop core stability and symmetrical movement. Rolling is also a movement that occurs quite often in rugby for example rolling away from a ruck. The child lies on the back on the floor with arms to the sides. From this position, he/she rolls to the side a number of times. This type of roll is easier to accomplish on a slope or with assistance. The second pattern described here is rolling with arms extended overhead. The way the child initiates these rolling patterns does not need to be cued as the child will select their normal pattern to initiate the roll. Both rolls are demonstrated in the video below.


The fifth pattern is crawling. This pattern can be divided into crawling using the same side to lead the body movements or crawling using alternating or opposite sides and both are detailed in the video below. When using the same lead side - the left arm and left knee move forward together at the same time. Then the right arm and right hip/knee move forward to continue the movement. In contrast, the opposing side movement pattern occurs when the left arm and then the right hip/knee move in harmony together. Note that both patterns can be completed in a forward and backwards direction and provide plenty of fun challenges not only to the child and adolescent but also for the adult athlete.


The sixth pattern is a cross pattern body movement which means the action is a complex one where the child will connect all the preceding patterns and results in actions such as creeping on all fours. This movement is quite similar to the body positioning the scrum for example. The Spiderman crawl is a good example of an exercise that can be used and it is shown in the video below. The child will be in the press-up position on their hands and feet. The child crawls with opposite arm to leg action and supports their own body weight. Crawling forwards and backwards and alternating these directions makes an interesting and fun activity.

Rudimentary activities may be used productively within the warm-up stage of the training or practice session especially for children’s physical activities and games. In addition, these exercises can be the main development focus within a rudimentary activity class or circuit. Where a child or indeed an adult displays poor movement competence (inefficient or lacking in coordination) in any of the patterns, it may be appropriate to include specific rudimentary movements in their individualised training plans.