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Eva D’Hondt, Fotini Venetsanou, Antonis Kambas, and Matthieu Lenoir

The targeted continent and/or country driven promotion of physical activity and health from an early age onwards requires more insight into cross-cultural differences in motor competence. Using the Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency, Second Edition Short Form (BOT-2 SF), this study assessed and compared both fine and gross motor skill performances of 5- and 6-year-old children from Belgium (n = 325) and Greece (n = 245). Linear mixed effect models and a χ2 test analyzed between-country differences in BOT-2 SF scores and the distribution across descriptive performance categories. Overall, Belgian and Greek participants displayed quite similar levels of motor competence, with fewer children performing (well-)below average than could be expected. On test item level, however, several significant differences emerged. Large effect sizes were found for knee push-ups (Hedges’ g = 1.46) and copying a square (Hedges’ g = 2.59), which demonstrated a better outcome for Belgian and Greek preschoolers, respectively. These findings might be attributed to different (physical) education practices in both European countries. The present study also highlights the importance of using an assessment tool covering the entire range of motor skills as well as a focusing primarily on raw performance scores, containing and explaining more variance, for international comparative research purposes.

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Jorge Cottyn, Dirk de Clercq, Geert Crombez, and Matthieu Lenoir

Preparatory heart rate deceleration occurs in tasks with an external focus of attention and is often assumed to facilitate balance performance. However, its effects upon sport-related complex balance movements have not been studied. Heart rate patterns during the preparation period of an acrobatic element (flic-flac) on the balance beam were studied in 14 female gymnasts (M age 13.2 years). A significant heart rate deceleration was found in attempts with a fall in the consecutive acrobatic element, but not in attempts without a fall. These data suggest that preparatory heart rate deceleration may be detrimental to the performance of complex movements on the balance beam.

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Roel Vaeyens, Matthieu Lenoir, A. Mark Williams, Liesbeth Mazyn, and Renaat M. Philippaerts

We examined differences in visual search behaviors and decision-making skill across different microstates of offensive play in soccer using youth participants (13.0-15.8 years) varying in skill and experience. We used realistic film simulations of offensive play, movement-based response measures, and an eye movement registration technique. Playing experience, skill level, and the unique constraints of the task, expressed by the number of players and relative proportion of offensive and defensive players, determined both the observed search behavior and processing requirements imposed on players in dynamic offensive team simulations. Significant differences in performance were observed between players and nonplayers and across three groups of soccer players who differed in skill level. Implications for talent identification and development are considered.

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Ali Brian, Farid Bardid, Lisa M. Barnett, Frederik J.A. Deconinck, Matthieu Lenoir, and Jacqueline D. Goodway

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.

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Andrew R. Novak, Kyle J.M. Bennett, Adam Beavan, Johan Pion, Tania Spiteri, Job Fransen, and Matthieu Lenoir

This study aimed to determine if the Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder (KTK) remained a valid assessment of motor competence following the removal of the hopping for height subtest (KTK3). Children (n = 2479) aged 6–11 years completed all KTK subtests (KTK4) and motor quotient sum scores (MQS) were determined for the KTK3 and KTK4. Classifications were established as MQS below percentile 5 (P5), MQS between percentile 5–15 (P15), MQS between percentile 15–50 (P15–50), MQS between percentile 50–85 (P50–85), MQS between percentile 85–95 (P85), and MQS higher than percentile 95 (P95). Pearson’s correlation (r = .97) and cross-tabs (Chi2 = 6822.53, p < .001; Kappa = 0.72) identified substantial agreement overall between the KTK3 and KTK4. However, when classified into separate age and gender categories, poor agreement (< 60%) was found in girls: P15 at 8–11 years and P85 at 6–7 years; and in boys: P5 and P15 at 6 years, P85 at 8 years, and P15 at 10 years. Researchers should consider these findings when selecting which KTK protocol to use.