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Esther Hartman, Suzanne Houwen and Chris Visscher

This study aimed to examine motor performance in deaf elementary school children and its association with sports participation. The population studied included 42 deaf children whose hearing loss ranged from 80 to 120 dB. Their motor skills were assessed with the Movement Assessment Battery for Children, and a questionnaire was used to determine their active involvement in organized sports. The deaf children had significantly more borderline and definite motor problems than the normative sample: 62% (manual dexterity), 52% (ball skills), and 45% (balance skills). Participation in organized sports was reported by 43% of the children; these children showed better performance on ball skills and dynamic balance. This study demonstrates the importance of improving deaf children’s motor skill performance, which might contribute positively to their sports participation.

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Esther Hartman, Chris Visscher and Suzanne Houwen

The aim of this study was to measure physical fitness of deaf Dutch elementary school children compared with hearing children and to investigate the influence of age on physical fitness. Deaf children were physically less fit than hearing children. Overall, physical fitness increased with age in deaf children, but no significant differences were found between the age groups of 9–10 years and 11–12 years on most of the Eurofit items. The difference in performance between deaf and hearing children, favoring the latter, increased with age in handgrip strength and the 20-m endurance shuttle run. More attention should be paid to developing and maintaining an adequate level of physical fitness in deaf children.

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Suzanne Houwen, Esther Hartman, Laura Jonker and Chris Visscher

This study examines the psychometric properties of the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 (TGMD-2) in children with visual impairments (VI). Seventy-five children aged between 6 and 12 years with VI completed the TGMD-2 and the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (Movement ABC). The internal consistency of the TGMD-2 was found to be high (alpha = 0.71−0.72) and the interrater, intrarater, and test-retest reliability acceptable (ICCs ranging from 0.82 to 0.95). The results of the factor analysis supported internal test structure and significant age and sex effects were observed. Finally, the scores on the object control subtest of the TGMD-2 and the ball skills subtest of the Movement ABC correlated moderately to high (r = 0.45 to r = 0.80). Based on the current results, it is concluded that the TGMD-2 is an appropriate tool to assess the gross motor skills of primary-school-age children with VI.

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Suzanne Houwen, Chris Visscher, Esther Hartman and Koen A.P.M. Lemmink

The purpose of this study was to examine the test-retest reliability of physical fitness items from the European Test of Physical Fitness (Eurofit) for children with visual impairments. A sample of 21 children, ages 6-12 years, that were recruited from a special school for children with visual impairments participated. Performance on the following physical fitness items was measured on two test sessions with 4 weeks in between: sit-and-reach, standing broad jump, handgrip, sit-ups, bent-arm hang, and 20-m multistage shuttle run. The 10 × 5-m shuttle run was replaced by a 5 × 10-m shuttle run. Intraclass correlations ranged from .63 to .91, indicating moderate-to-excellent reliability. However, systematic differences between test and retest were found for the sit-and-reach, bent-arm hang, and the modified 5 × 10-m shuttle run items. The results indicate that for most items, test-retest reliability was satisfactory, but that improvements need to be made to the test protocols of the sit-and-reach, bent-arm hang, and the 5 × 10-m shuttle run items to ensure test-retest reliability.

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Laura Jonker, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser, Ilse M. de Roos and Chris Visscher

Reflection is considered a key factor in expert learning and refers to the extent to which individuals are able to appraise what they have learned and to integrate these experiences into future actions, thereby maximizing performance improvements. We assessed the relation between self-reported reflection at baseline and attainment (i.e., international vs. national level) 2.5 years later in 52 elite youth athletes. A Mann-Whitney U test showed that those who became senior internationals scored highest on reflection during their junior years compared with those who only attained senior national status. More specifically, athletes who made the transition from junior national to senior international level had higher reflection scores than their peers who did not reach international status and had similar scores to those who were internationals as juniors. These results emphasize the value of reflection in elite youth athletes to attaining senior international status later in development.

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Tamara Kramer, Barbara C.H. Huijgen, Marije T. Elferink-Gemser and Chris Visscher

Purpose:

To analyze how physical fitness (PF) improves in elite junior tennis players related to age, maturity, and performance level.

Methods:

Elite junior tennis players (n = 113 boys, n = 83 girls) divided by performance level were monitored longitudinally from U14 to U16. Maturity, upper and lower-body power, speed, and agility were measured during subsequent competitive seasons. Improvement was analyzed per sex using multilevel analysis.

Results:

PF components for boys and girls improved over age (U14-U16) (ES .53–.97). In boys, the more mature boys outscored the less mature boys in upper and lower-body power from U14-U16. In girls, high-ranked girls outscored lower-ranked girls on lower-body power, speed, and agility (U14-U16) (p < .05).

Conclusion:

Boys and girls improved on all PF components during U14-U16. In boys, power was related to maturity. In girls, lower-body power, speed, and agility were related to tennis performance. This has important implications for talent development.

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Rikstje Wiersma, Inge K. Stoter, Chris Visscher, Florentina J. Hettinga and Marije T. Elferink-Gemser

Purpose:

To provide insight on the development of pacing behavior in junior speed skaters and analyze possible differences between elite, subelite, and nonelite juniors.

Methods:

Season-best times (SBTs) in the 1500-m and corresponding pacing behavior were obtained longitudinally for 104 Dutch male speed skaters at age 13–14 (U15), 15–16 (U17), and 17–18 (U19) y. Based on their U19 SBT, skaters were divided into elite (n = 17), subelite (n = 64), and nonelite (n = 23) groups. Pacing behavior was analyzed using the 0- to 300-m, 300- to 700-m, 700- to 1100-m, and 1100- to 1500-m times, expressed as a percentage of final time. Mixed analyses of variance were used for statistical analyses.

Results:

With age, pacing behavior generally developed toward a slower 0- to 300-m and 1100- to 1500-m and a faster midsection relative to final time. While being faster on all sections, the elite were relatively slower on 0- to 300-m (22.1% ± 0.27%) than the subelite and nonelite (21.5% ± 0.44%) (P < .01) but relatively faster on 300- to 700-m (24.6% ± 0.30%) than the nonelite (24.9% ± 0.58%) (P = .002). On 700- to 1100-m, the elite and subelite (26.2% ± 0.25%) were relatively faster than the nonelite (26.5% ± 0.41%) (P = .008). Differences in the development of pacing behavior were found from U17 to U19, with relative 700- to 1100-m times decreasing for the elite and subelite (26.2% ± 0.31% to 26.1% ± 0.27%) but increasing for the nonelite (26.3% ± 0.29% to 26.5% ± 0.41%) (P = .014).

Conclusions:

Maintaining high speed into 700 to 1100 m, accompanied by a relatively slower start, appears crucial for high performance in 1500-m speed skating. Generally, juniors develop toward this profile, with a more pronounced development toward a relatively faster 700- to 1100-m from U17 to U19 for elite junior speed skaters. The results of the current study indicate the relevance of pacing behavior for talent development.

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Anneke G. van der Niet, Joanne Smith, Jaap Oosterlaan, Erik J.A. Scherder, Esther Hartman and Chris Visscher

The objective of this study was to analyze the effects of a physical activity program including both aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities on children’s physical fitness and executive functions. Children from 3 primary schools (aged 8–12 years) were recruited. A quasi-experimental design was used. Children in the intervention group (n = 53; 19 boys, 34 girls) participated in a 22-week physical activity program for 30 min during lunch recess, twice a week. Children in the control group (n = 52; 32 boys, 20 girls) followed their normal lunch routine. Aerobic fitness, speed and agility, and muscle strength were assessed using the Eurofit test battery. Executive functions were assessed using tasks measuring inhibition (Stroop test), working memory (Visual Memory Span test, Digit Span test), cognitive flexibility (Trailmaking test), and planning (Tower of London). Children in the intervention group showed significantly greater improvement than children in the control group on the Stroop test and Digit Span test, reflecting enhanced inhibition and verbal working memory skills, respectively. No differences were found on any of the physical fitness variables. A physical activity program including aerobic exercise and cognitively engaging physical activities can enhance aspects of executive functioning in primary school children.