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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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Brigit De Wit, Dirk De Clercq, and Matthieu Lenoir

The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of midsole hardness on both impact forces and rearfoot motion. Seven trained male long-distance runners were assessed with a Kistler force plate and with high-speed video, while running at 4.5 ± 0.1 m · s"1 with soft and hard shoe soles (EVA; soft shore Asker C40; hard shore Asker C65). The results showed smaller initial vertical impact peaks, occurring with a higher loading rate, and a significantly larger and faster initial eversion when subjects ran with hard shoes. Support is given to the concept that a more pronounced initial eversion offers an additional deceleration mechanism (Stacoff, Denoth, Kaelin, & Stuessi, 1988) also increasing the eccentric loading of the inverting muscles. On the other hand, during midstance soft shoe soles were found to produce a larger maximum eversion and pronation, also imposing an increased load on the same muscles. So, a good running shoe should be focused on a balance between reducing impact forces and reducing overpronation.

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Elly van Hyfte, Sien Vercruysse, Griet Warlop, and Matthieu Lenoir

Purpose: To investigate the effect of an obstacle course based physical education program, designed according to contemporary insights on motor learning, on motor competence (MC) of 6- to 7-year-old Flemish children. Method: Pupils from 16 primary schools were randomly allocated to either control (n = 173, 50.3% boys) or intervention group (n = 182, 54.9% boys). MC, assessed with the Körperkoordinationtest für Kinder (KTK), was analyzed with a 2 (Gender, girls vs. boys) × 2 (Group: INT vs. CON) × 3 (Time: pre vs. inter vs. post) Repeated Measures ANOVA. Results: The MC in the intervention group improved more compared with the control group (Time × Group interaction, p < .001). Moreover, a shift to a more favorable MC classification is seen for all children in intervention group. Conclusion: The results underline the potential value of an obstacle course based PE program based and provide a gateway for optimization of the current PE programs.

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Veerle Segers, Peter Aerts, Matthieu Lenoir, and Dirk De Clercq

The purpose of this study was to examine the kinetics of the walk-to-run transition (WRT) and run-to-walk transition (RWT), when accelerating or decelerating across transition speed (a = 0.17 m·s−2). Nine women performed gait transitions on a 50-m-long walkway. Vertical ground reaction forces (GRFs) and the center of pressure (COP) were examined in the range from 3 steps before to 3 steps after transition in order to identify the possible occurrence of a transition process, in order to facilitate the actual realization of transition. The actual transition is realized in one step, during WRT and RWT. This transition step was characterized by an outlying vertical GRF and COP trajectory (deviating from walking and running). Despite this clear discontinuity, a transitional adaptation period (process) appeared in both transitions. In the WRT, transition was prepared and kinetic adaptations were found in the last step before transition. The RWT was pre- and “post”-pared and only completed during the first walking step after transition. Thus, the WRT and RWT are two distinct phenomena, with different kinetics.

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Eva D’Hondt, Benedicte Deforche, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, and Matthieu Lenoir

The purpose of this study was to investigate gross and fine motor skill in overweight and obese children compared with normal-weight peers. According to international cut-off points for Body Mass Index (BMI) from Cole et al. (2000), all 117 participants (5–10 year) were classified as being normal-weight, overweight, or obese. Level of motor skill was assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children (MABC). Scores for balance (p < .01) and ball skills (p < .05) were significantly better in normal-weight and overweight children as compared with their obese counterparts. A similar trend was found for manual dexterity (p < .10). This study demonstrates that general motor skill level is lower in obese children than in normal-weight and overweight peers.

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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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Fabian Ducheyne, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Matthieu Lenoir, and Greet Cardon

This study examined the reliability of a newly developed child and parental questionnaire on specific determinants of cycling to school among 10–12 year olds. Validity of child reported distance, bicycle equipment and basic bicycle skills was also investigated. In total 211 children and 33 parents participated in this study. The reliability of the questionnaires was acceptable with results indicating reliability ranging from fair to perfect agreement. Therefore, the questionnaires appear to be reliable tools for assessing specific determinants of cycling to school. Furthermore, it was found that children overestimate their abilities to perform basic bicycle skills. This suggests that objectively measuring bicycle skills is preferred to child reported skills assessment.

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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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Farid Bardid, Floris Huyben, Frederik J.A. Deconinck, Kristine De Martelaer, Jan Seghers, and Matthieu Lenoir

The aim of this study was to investigate the convergent and divergent validity between the Body Coordination Test for Children (KTK) and the Motor Proficiency Test for 4- to 6-Year-Old Children (MOT 4-6). A total of 638 children (5–6 yr old) took part in the study. The results showed a moderately positive association between the total scores of both tests (r s = .63). Moreover, the KTK total score correlated more highly with the MOT 4-6 gross motor score than with the MOT 4-6 fine motor score (r s = .62 vs. .32). Levels of agreement were moderate when identifying children with moderate or severe motor problems and low at best when detecting children with higher motor-competence levels. This study provides evidence of convergent and divergent validity between the KTK and MOT 4-6. However, given the moderate to low levels of agreement, either measurement may lead to possible categorization errors. Therefore, it is recommended that children’s motor competence not be judged based on the result of a single test.

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Liesbeth I.N. Mazyn, Gilles Montagne, Geert J.P. Savelsbergh, and Matthieu Lenoir

In the present study, the limits of human catching behavior were challenged to investigate quantitative and qualitative adaptations of the catching movement when performing under varying ball speeds, implying minor as well as severe temporal constraints. Nine male participants caught balls approaching at speeds ranging from 8.5 to 19.7 m/s with their preferred hand. Although a decrease in catching performance was undeniable, several quantitative adaptations provided the catcher with extra time and allowed to compensate the decrease in spatial accuracy with increasing speed. More importantly, changes in the coordination between hand, elbow, and shoulder emerged with increasing movement velocity. More demanding temporal constraints lead to a shift from relatively independent activity of each joint towards a mode in which several joints act as one unit. This reorganization of the coordination pattern of the catch is discussed in the context of Bernstein’s degrees of freedom problem.