BerkswichCE Primary School

Achieve, Believe and Care

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PE Vocabulary Glossary of Terms

Agility – Agility is the ability to change the direction of the body in an efficient and effective manner.

Pupils can be encouraged to develop their agility through travelling in large and small spaces in gymnastics and dance and in taking part in team games, fitness and other activities involving directional changes.

Analyse – To examine in detail in order to discover meaning and/or essential features; to break down into components.; to examine the nature or structure of something, especially by separating it into its parts, in order to understand or explain it.

Pupils should be able to use a variety of methods to analyse their own and others’ performances in a range of different activities.

Applying – To put into action.

Pupils should be given opportunities to practise and apply their learning in different activities. This provides an opportunity to revisit previous as well as further develop learning. Links between activities should also be made to highlight and enable pupils’ transference of skills.

Balance – The ability to maintain equilibrium when stationary or moving (i.e. not to fall over) through the coordinated actions of our sensory functions (eyes, ears and the proprioceptive organs in our joints).

Static Balance – The ability to retain the centre of mass above the base of support in a stationary position.

Dynamic Balance – The ability to maintain balance with body movement.

Pupils should be able to balance on two feet before attempting to balance on one foot, on other parts of the body or inverted.

Broad Range of Opportunities – Not limited or narrow; of extensive range or scope: a broad range of interests; of broad appeal.

Pupils should be offered a variety of age appropriate differentiated physical activities to develop and extend their agility, balance, coordination, fitness and motor skills, and to accommodate their different strengths, interests and needs.

Challenge – Something that by its nature or character requires special effort, is demanding. 

Intellectual challenge – Where the demand relates to thinking in an intelligent way and understanding, especially difficult or complicated concepts or ideas.

Intellectual challenge is provided by outdoor education within the NC.  This should be viewed in the context of setting pupils mental challenges in which they have to overcome and solve problems.

Physical challenge – Where the demand relates to physical performance, for example, performing a difficult or complex skill or task.  A physical challenge might involve endurance-related tasks.

Competent – Having suitable or sufficient skill, knowledge and experience.

Within physical education, terms such as fluent, controlled, aesthetically pleasing or with very few errors could be used to describe what a competent performance looks like.

Competence – The ability to do something successfully or efficiently.

Pupils should develop competence in the fundamental movement skills to enable them to develop competence across the range of activities within the physical education curriculum.

Competitive sport – Competition refers to a contest for some prize, honour or advantage.;  competitive sport is usually played or participated in between two or more persons or teams striving for the common goal of winning.


Although pupils at KS1 and KS2 enjoy a competitive element in activities, the extent and type of competition needs to be age appropriate.  KS1 pupils can take part in activities where they compete against their personal bests, which may be rewarded with positive feedback and praise. Pupils can also take part in simple games in groups of 2-4, where attitude and motivation as well as performance are acknowledged.


Pupils at KS2, 3 and 4 can also compete against their personal bests. KS2 and 3 pupils should also take part in differentiated partner and small group or modified games and activities.  KS 2 pupils may begin to take part in some of the mini versions of sports i.e. Quick Cricket, Red tennis etc, while at KS3 and 4, pupils should progress towards taking part and competing in full games and regulation sports.  Pupils should also be encouraged to use competition as a way of peer and self assessment.


Complex – So complicated or intricate as to be hard to understand or deal with;; or in the physical education context, to be hard to perform.

Tactics, strategies or techniques and skills might be complex and KS 4 pupils should be encouraged to develop these to a more advanced level across a variety of physical activities.

Confident – To be certain about something or feeling sure of oneself and one’s abilities.

To promote confidence pupils should be appropriately challenged and praised for working to the best of their ability and making progress.  In turn, this should motivate and encourage them to have a go and try new things. It is also important pupils feel confident in their teacher’s knowledge and ability to support their learning.

Control – To exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.

Pupils from a young age should be encouraged to focus on controlling their movements. When travelling in a space pupils’ attention should be drawn to spatial awareness and moving with control.  When performing a sequence or balance, good control through sound body tension should be an expectation and when stopping, pupils should be taught to hold still.

Cooperative physical activities – Cooperation is a behaviour demonstrated by individuals working together toward shared goals.

In many activities in physical education, pupils must learn to work cooperatively as well as have a desire to defeat opponents. Generally, co-operation requires a greater degree of maturation and intellectual development than competition.

Cooperative physical activities can involve many different types of group interaction.  Co-operative Games, for example, enable pupils to work together in a caring and co-operative way as a social unit, to be inclusive, and to develop coordination, motor and problem solving skills.

Co-ordination – The ability to control the movement of the body in co-operation with the body’s sensory functions, e.g. catching a ball (ball, hand and eye co-ordination).

Core movement – The competency in motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.

There are a number of different types of skills:

  • Cognitive – or intellectual skills that require thought processes
  • Perceptual – involving interpretation of presented information
  • Motor – involving movement and muscle control
  • Perceptual motor – involving the thought, interpretation and movement skills

Pupils will be at different levels in their development of core movement skills. Opportunities to develop and assess pupils’ core movement skills should be the foundation to physical education.

Demanding – Calling for intensive effort or attention; in the physical education context, intensive physical effort (i.e. physically demanding).

Effectiveness – Adequate to accomplish a purpose; producing the intended or expected result.

Excel – Deriving from the word excellent, to do very well or be exceptionally good at or proficient in an activity.

At KS1 and KS2, pupils should work on developing their fundamental movement skills. Pupils who are excelling would perform movement with good balance, coordination and control. Pupils can also excel in their knowledge and understanding of concepts, terms or different activities, or in their confidence, attitude and motivation towards physical activity.


At the end of KS1 pupils should be expected to:

  • Develop control and coordination of their physical movements
  • Recognise, observe and apply rules in competitive and cooperative games and other physical activities and know why they are important
  • Devise, perform and repeat compositions and sequences
  • Use and apply simple tactics and strategies
  • Improve performance by observation and use set criteria for evaluation
  • Understand the benefits of regular exercise and how their bodies feel when they exercise.

Pupils who excel at KS1 should be able to:

  • Control and coordinate their bodies and movements with increasing skill and confidence
  • Follow and apply more complex rules in a range of games
  • Develop physical skills and techniques by observation, evaluation and refinement; and use repetition and practice to reach higher standards
  • Use tactics, strategies and compositional ideas to achieve set objectives and improve performance
  • Recognise ways in which stamina and flexibility can be improved through daily physical activity
  • explore a range of actions, dynamics, space and relationships, and know how to create dance motifs and compose simple dances.

Pupils who excel at KS2 would be able to:

  • Develop whole body control and fine manipulation skills
  • Know and understand what needs to be achieved, critically evaluating how well it has been achieved and finding ways to improve
  • Understand that physical activity contributes to the healthy functioning of the body and mind and is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle
  • Refine and adapt skills into techniques
  • Make decisions about what to do to improve their performance and the performance of others.


The National Curriculum Primary Handbook February (2010).


Noun – A person who has special skill or knowledge; a person who is a specialist authority in some particular field.

Adjective – Possessing specialist skill or knowledge; skillful or skilled.  (

Fairness and respect – Fairness and respect within physical education can be demonstrated and developed as follows, by:


  • Taking turns
  • Sharing equipment and apparatus
  • Following rules and making up rules for games
  • Recognising and accommodating the different abilities of their peers
  • Sharing ideas and knowledge
  • Accepting anyone can take part regardless of their race, religion, gender or sex.


  • Caring for equipment and apparatus
  • Keeping themselves and others safe i.e. when travelling in a space, moving equipment
  • Celebrating others’ successes, including of opponents
  • Listening to teachers’ instructions
  • Listening and responding to others’ ideas
  • Understanding everyone has a right to take part regardless of ability
  • Recognising others’ contributions.

 Fitness – There are two main types of fitness, health-related and skill-related.  In the NCPE, the term is used to refer to health-related fitness. This comprises five components (cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition).

Personal fitness – Personal fitness is the composite level of these five components that an individual possesses at any point in time.

At KS 4 pupils should know and understand their own levels of personal fitness, and how and through which activities they can develop their fitness.

Flexibility – Flexibility, mobility and suppleness all refer to the range of limb movement around joints.

In activities such as gymnastics and athletics pupils can draw on and develop their flexibility using the full range of movement in controlled, focused as well as in dynamic ways.  Where possible, skills and positions demanding flexibility are best practised and refined statically (i.e. still) first, before being performed dynamically (i.e. moving).

Movement patterns in dance – Movement composed of the elements of dance in a regular arrangement, configuration or design; a dance pattern.

Physically demanding activities  – Physical activities that challenge an individual to move on from their own baseline level of performance to the next step.

For some pupils this could be holding a simple balance and for others it may be improving their stamina, co-ordination, speed or agility.

Strength – The ability of a muscle or muscle group to overcome a resistance.

At KS1 and KS2, pupils can develop strength through taking their own body weight, balancing, climbing, hanging, swinging, jumping, skipping, running, or swimming etc.

At KS3 and KS4, pupils can develop strength through the above plus through more formal sports as well as fitness-related activities such as circuits, aerobics or resistance training using free or fixed weights.  The use of heavy weights however, should be avoided.

Sustained – To keep up or keep going; as an action or process; in the physical education context to keep up/maintain the behaviour of physical activity.

Ofsted (2013) suggests ‘Teachers should improve pupils’ fitness by keeping them physically active throughout all lessons and engaging them in regular, high intensity vigorous activity for sustained periods of time.’  It should be noted though that, despite high intensity, vigorous activity having benefits, it may not be appropriate for all pupils and sustained physical activity of any intensity is still beneficial.

Tactic – The particular method used or selected to achieve something.

Technique – A technique is the way of performing a skill.

Players select different techniques for performing skills on the basis of:

Their personal preference – which technique suits their level of skill or confidence

The effectiveness of the technique – which technique gives them the most success

The situation – which technique is best at a given time and place, and is within the rules.

Skills and Techniques

Strategy – The intended or chosen plan to achieve a particular purpose;; for example, in the physical education context, the plan to overcome an opponent in a game or to solve a problem in outdoor education.