When Children’s Perceived and Actual Motor Competence Mismatch: Sport Participation and Gender Differences

in Journal of Motor Learning and Development
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  • 1 University of Rome “Foro Italico”
  • 2 University of Bern
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This study examined the (mis)match between children’s perceived and actual motor skill competence, the role played by sport practice and gender when children under- or overestimate their motor competence, and the biomechanical correlates of perceived competence and perceived–actual competence (mis)match. Ninety children aged 7.5±1.2 years performed the Tests of Gross Motor Development-2 (TGMD-2), with a subsample of 44 children wearing inertial sensor devices for objective measurement of running and throwing, and completed the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence. Scores of perceived locomotor and object control competence were regressed on TGMD data. Underestimators (UE), realists (R), and overestimators (OE) were identified and it was assessed whether they differed in gender, amount of sport practice, and selected biomechanical parameters. Differences emerged with respect to gender, with most girls underestimating and most boys overestimating their object control competence, and with respect to sport participation, with OE of locomotor competence practicing a larger amount of sport than UE. Some kinematic parameters were associated with perceived competence without differences between UE, R, and OE. Results suggest: (a) the need for specific motivation strategies to ensure a skill-appropriate enhancement of perceived competence in girls; (b) the relevance of feeling skilled for sport practice; (c) the added value of biomechanical assessment to further our understanding of perceived motor competence.

Pesce, Masci, Marchetti, and Vannozzi are with the Dept. of Movement, Human, and Health Sciences, University of Rome “Foro Italico”, Rome, Italy. Schmidt is with the Institute of Sport Science, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.

Address author correspondence to Caterina Pesce at caterina.pesce@uniroma4.it.
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