Perceptions of competence mediate the relationship between motor skill proficiency and physical activity among older children and adolescents. This study examined kindergarten children’s perceptions of physical competence as a mediator of the relationship between motor skill proficiency as a predictor variable and physical activity levels as the outcome variable; and also with physical activity as a predictor and motor skill proficiency as the outcome.
Participants were 116 children (mean age = 5 years 7 months, 58% boys) from 10 schools. Motor skills were measured using the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 and physical activity was monitored through accelerometry. Perceptions of physical competence were measured using The Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children, and the relationships between these variables were examined using a model of mediation.
The direct path between object control skills and moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was significant and object control skills predicted perceived physical competence. However, perceived competence did not mediate the relationship between object control skills and MVPA.
The significant relationship between motor proficiency and perceptions of competence did not in turn influence kindergarten children’s participation in physical activity. These findings support concepts of developmental differences in the structure of the self-perception system.
The authors are with the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, Victoria, BC, Canada.