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Caterina Pesce, Ilaria Masci, Rosalba Marchetti, Giuseppe Vannozzi and Mirko Schmidt

This study examined the (mis)match between children’s perceived and actual motor skill competence, the role played by sport practice and gender when children under- or overestimate their motor competence, and the biomechanical correlates of perceived competence and perceived–actual competence (mis)match. Ninety children aged 7.5±1.2 years performed the Tests of Gross Motor Development-2 (TGMD-2), with a subsample of 44 children wearing inertial sensor devices for objective measurement of running and throwing, and completed the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence. Scores of perceived locomotor and object control competence were regressed on TGMD data. Underestimators (UE), realists (R), and overestimators (OE) were identified and it was assessed whether they differed in gender, amount of sport practice, and selected biomechanical parameters. Differences emerged with respect to gender, with most girls underestimating and most boys overestimating their object control competence, and with respect to sport participation, with OE of locomotor competence practicing a larger amount of sport than UE. Some kinematic parameters were associated with perceived competence without differences between UE, R, and OE. Results suggest: (a) the need for specific motivation strategies to ensure a skill-appropriate enhancement of perceived competence in girls; (b) the relevance of feeling skilled for sport practice; (c) the added value of biomechanical assessment to further our understanding of perceived motor competence.

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Mirko Schmidt, Katja Jäger, Fabienne Egger, Claudia M. Roebers and Achim Conzelmann

Although the positive effects of different kinds of physical activity (PA) on cognitive functioning have already been demonstrated in a variety of studies, the role of cognitive engagement in promoting children’s executive functions is still unclear. The aim of the current study was therefore to investigate the effects of two qualitatively different chronic PA interventions on executive functions in primary school children. Children (N = 181) aged between 10 and 12 years were assigned to either a 6-week physical education program with a high level of physical exertion and high cognitive engagement (team games), a physical education program with high physical exertion but low cognitive engagement (aerobic exercise), or to a physical education program with both low physical exertion and low cognitive engagement (control condition). Executive functions (updating, inhibition, shifting) and aerobic fitness (multistage 20-m shuttle run test) were measured before and after the respective condition. Results revealed that both interventions (team games and aerobic exercise) have a positive impact on children’s aerobic fitness (4–5% increase in estimated VO2max). Importantly, an improvement in shifting performance was found only in the team games and not in the aerobic exercise or control condition. Thus, the inclusion of cognitive engagement in PA seems to be the most promising type of chronic intervention to enhance executive functions in children, providing further evidence for the importance of the qualitative aspects of PA.