Actual and Perceived Motor Competence Levels of Belgian and United States Preschool Children

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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Purpose: The present study examined the motor competence of preschool children from Belgium and the United States (US), and the influence of perceived motor competence on actual motor competence. A secondary objective was to compare the levels of motor competence of Belgian and US children using the US norms of the Test of Gross Motor Development, Second Edition (TGMD-2). Methods: All participants (N = 326; ages 4–5 years) completed the TGMD-2 and the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence for Young Children. Results: Belgian children performed significantly higher on actual object control and locomotor skills than US children. However, both Belgian and US children scored significantly worse on the TGMD-2 when compared to the US norm group from 1997–1998. Furthermore, perceived motor competence was significantly related to actual object control skills but not locomotor skills. Conclusion: The present study showed cross-cultural differences in actual motor competence in young children. The findings also indicate a secular downward trend in childhood competence levels, possibly due to a decrease in physical activity and increase in sedentary behavior. Future research should consider conducting an in-depth exploration of physical activity contexts such as physical education to better understand cross-cultural differences in motor competence.

Brian and Bardid share first authorship and contributed equally to this work.

Brian is with the Dept. of Physical Education, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Bardid is with the School of Education, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom. Barnett is with the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research, School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia. Bardid, Deconinck, and Lenoir are with the Dept. of Movement and Sports Sciences, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium. Goodway is with the Kinesiology Divison, Dept. of Human Sciences, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.

Address author correspondence to Ali Brian at Brianali@mailbox.sc.edu.
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