The most extensively researched aspect of physical play is what is usually referred to as ‘rough-and-tumble’ play. It includes chasing, grappling, climbing, kicking, wrestling and rolling on the ground and appears to have evolved as a mechanism through which children learn to control themselves, their bodies and emotions.
Some have argued that this type of play often seem very aggressive, but it is easily distinguishable from actual aggression by the shared enjoyment of the participants, and appears to be wholly beneficial. Research suggests general health benefits of physical play, but it is also clearly associated with the development of emotional and social skills and understanding emotional states, contributing to strong emotional bonds between children and their parents.
Fine-motor play is also part of physical play, and refers to a wide range of activities which support young children’s development of their fine-motor hand and finger coordination skills. These activities are often solitary, can be beneficially supported by an adult (e.g. sewing, construction) and, due to their absorbing nature, help children develop their spatial abilities, concentration and perseverance skills.