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Instructional Course 5: Building Athletes for Life: Sports Medicine Professionals as Champions of Physical Literacy Development

Course Summary

As defined by the International Physical Literacy Association, physical literacy is the motivation, confidence, knowledge, and understanding to value and take responsibility for engagement in physical activities for life. The construct offers a necessary and more holistic, systems-oriented approach to physical activity promotion, recently spurring the world-wide launch of physical literacy development initiatives for youth. Sports medicine professionals are aptly suited, and perhaps responsible, for fostering physical literacy development among young athletes, particularly among those at highest risk of physical literacy disruption following injury.  

By incorporating a broad range of speaker and content expertise, this course will equip attendees with the knowledge and confidence to educate young athletes and families on the importance of physical literacy development, regardless of sex, sport, and competition level. Recent evidence will be employed to demonstrate the critical need for sports medicine professionals to reconceptualize care provision for the injured young athlete in order to promote quality movement for life. For clinical application, attendees will be introduced to interdisciplinary strategies for supporting necessary development of physical literacy among youth.

Course Objectives

  • Define physical literacy and its role in the development of quality movement for all youth.
  • Discuss the adoption of physical literacy as both a determinant of health and a tool of public health.
  • Examine emerging evidence that illuminates the impact of a severe sports-related injury on a young athlete’s physical literacy development journey.
  • Understand how to implement clinical strategies that promote the development of physical literacy


Christin Zwolski, PT, DPT, PhD
Joseph Janosky, DrPHc, MSc, PT, AT 
Matthew Paponetti, PT, DPT 
Mark Paterno, PT, PhD, MBA, SCS, ATC