Background: To use the meta-analytic approach to assess the effectiveness of different types of movement programs on motor competence (MC) in participants of all ages. Methods: Studies were retrieved by searching 13 databases and included when criteria were met. Studies were selected, and data were extracted by 2 authors. Random effects models using the standardized mean difference effect size (ES) were used to pool results. Risk of bias, heterogeneity, and inconsistency were examined. Results: Thirty-six studies met the inclusion criteria. A total of 374 ESs were calculated and partitioned into 4 groups (motor intervention, free play, physical education classes, and control group). Statistically significant improvements in MC were observed for the motor intervention (ES = 1.50; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.18 to 1.82; n = 36), as well as for free play (ES = 0.33; 95% CI, 0.09 to 0.57; n = 5), physical education classes (ES = 0.52; 95% CI, 0.08 to 0.97; n = 15), and smaller statistically significant differences in MC were observed for the control groups (ES = 0.16; 95% CI, 0.01 to 0.31; n = 6). Conclusions: All 4 groups analyzed improved MC in children, adolescents, and young adults. However, motor interventions were superior to all other groups for improving MC.
The authors are with the University of Costa Rica, San Jose, Costa Rica.