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Deborah L. Feltz and Eugene W. Brown

Harter's (1979) perceived competence subscale was modified to specifically apply to soccer in order to compare young soccer players' general self-esteem, perceived physical competence, and perceived soccer competence scores in predicting players' actual soccer ability. Young soccer players (N = 217), 8 to 13 years of age, were tested on five soccer skill tests. Players also completed Harter's (1979) Perceived Competence Scale for Children and our perceived soccer competence subscale. We hypothesized that perceived soccer competence would have high internal consistency and would be a better predictor of soccer ability than either perceived physical competence or general self-esteem. Results indicated that the perceived soccer competence subscale had the highest internal consistency reliability coefficient, and that it was also slightly more predictive of soccer ability than perceived physical competence as indicated by multivariate multiple regression analysis and canonical correlation analysis. Future studies investigating perceived competence as a motivational variable in specific youth sports may find the sport-specific perceived competence measure to provide additional information to Harter's questionnaire.

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Kate A. Heelan and Joey C. Eisenmann

Background:

It is uncertain as to whether physical activity (PA) may influence the body composition of young children.

Purpose:

To determine the association between PA, media time, and body composition in children age 4 to 7 y.

Methods:

100 children (52 girls, 48 boys) were assessed for body-mass index (BMI), body fat, fat mass (FM), and fat-free mass using dual energy x-ray absorbtiometryptiometry (DXA). PA was monitored using accelerometers and media time was reported by parental proxy.

Results:

In general, correlations were low to moderate at best (r < 0.51), but in the expected direction. Total media time and TV were significantly associated with BMI (r = 0.51, P < 0.05) and FM (r = 0.29 to 0.30, P < 0.05) in girls. In boys, computer usage was significantly associated with FM in boys (r = 0.31, P < 0.05).

Conclusion:

The relatively low correlations suggest that other factors may influence the complex, multi-factorial body composition phenotype of young children.

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Camilla Astley, Diego Souza and Marcos Polito

Purpose:

To compare the acute effect of caffeine ingestion on performance in young judo athletes.

Method:

In a randomized double-blind design, eighteen judo athletes (16.1 ± 1.4 yrs.) were evaluated on three nonconsecutive days. On the first day, the special judo fitness test (SJFT) was used as a control session. On the second day, the sample was randomly divided into two equal groups. One group received 4 mg.kg-1 of caffeine (capsule) and the other group received a placebo. After resting for 60 min, the sample performed the SJFT. On the final day of testing, the same procedure was performed but the substance ingested was exchanged between the groups.

Results:

Heart rate (HR) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE) were recorded throughout the applications of the SJFTs. Caffeine ingestion did not induce changes in HR, but reduced the RPE compared with the placebo session (7.0 ± 1.1 vs 8.2 ± 2.0; p < .05), increased the number of throws applied (29.0 ± 2.6 vs 22.1 ± 3.4; p < .01) and reduced the SJFT index (12.2 ± 0.5 vs. 15.7 ± 0.9; p < .001).

Conclusion:

4 mg.kg-1 did not alter HR but improved performance on SJFT in young judo athletes and reduced the RPE.

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Abigail Fisher, John J. Reilly, Colette Montgomery, Louise A. Kelly, Avril Williamson, Diane M. Jackson, James Y. Paton and Stanley Grant

This study examined whether there was a significant seasonal variation in objectively measured habitual physical activity and sedentary behavior in young children. Participants were children who attend nursery in Glasgow, Scotland, and measurements were taken using uniaxial accelerometry over 3 to 6 days. There were small but significant seasonal associations with physical activity and sedentary behavior (ANOVA: p < .001 in both cases). Total physical activity (accelerometry cpm) was significantly lower in spring than in summer, fall, and winter. We also found slight but significant seasonal variations in time spent in low-intensity activity and in moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity. Sedentary time was significantly lower in summer vs. spring and in fall vs. spring. The present study suggests that seasonality plays only a limited role in physical activity and sedentary behavior in young children in our setting. Single measures of these variables should be adequate for research purposes in the absence of marked seasonal variability. In our sample and setting, the limited degree of seasonality precluded identification of major seasonal barriers to and opportunities for physical activity.

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Frances E. Cleland

Young children’s (N = 50) divergent movement ability (DMA), which is one aspect of critical thinking in physical education, was examined in this study. Treatment Group A received 20 physical education lessons based on skill themes using indirect teaching styles (n = 16). Twenty lessons based on low-organized games content using direct teaching styles were provided to Treatment Group B (n = 17). No treatment was provided to the control subjects in Group C (n = 17). No significant DMA pretest differences were determined, and the independent variables (i.e., gender, intelligence, creativity, and background of movement experience) examined were not significantly related to subjects’ pretest DMA. A two-way ANOVA and post hoc Scheffe test revealed that Group A’s posttest DMA scores were significantly higher than those for either Group B or Group C, F(2, 47) = 11.7, p < .0001. Young children’s ability to generate different movement patterns (i.e., DMA), therefore, was significantly improved in response to employing critical thinking strategies in physical education.

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Mary Jo MacCracken and Robert E. Stadulis

Dynamic balance performance of young children (ages 4, 6, and 8) was assessed in three social situations: alone (only with tester present); coaction (one other child performing at the same time); and spectators (five other observer children present). Within each age and gender, children (N = 120) were classified as of higher or lower comparative skill. Each balance task performed (walking forward and backward on a line, a narrow beam or a wide beam) was classified as representing easier or more difficult tasks for each child individually. Findings (p ≤ .05) indicated that the facilitation effects of social situations strengthened over age, with spectators producing increments in performance for children of higher skill (especially boys) and decrements in performance for the lower skilled children (both boys and girls). Coaction resulted in positive effects regardless of skill level.

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Tara K. Scanlan and Michael W. Passer

Identification of factors influencing expectancies of successful performance in competitive youth sports is important to understanding the way in which children perceive and respond to this evaluative achievement situation. Therefore, in this field study involving 10- to 12-year-old female soccer players, intrapersonal factors affecting players' pregame personal performance expectancies were first identified. Soccer ability and self-esteem were found to be related to personal performance expectancies, but competitive trait anxiety was not Second, the impact of game outcome, the previously mentioned intrapersonal variables, and the interaction of game outcome and intrapersonal variables was examined by determining players' postgame team expectancies in a hypothetical rematch with the same opponent. The postgame findings showed that winning players evidenced higher team expectancies than tying and losing players. Moreover, the expectancies of tying players were low and, in fact, similar to those of losers. The results of this study successfully replicated and extended previous findings with young male athletes.

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Kathleen Williams, Lavon Williams and H. Scott Strohmeyer

This longitudinal investigation examined the shift from use of a marking time to an alternating stepping pattern by young children. A set of twin males was videotaped between ages 37 and 46 months climbing stairs of 3.8-17.8 cm height. One boy began to alternate consistently on the highest steps at 41 months, the other at 46 months. Anthropometries (leg lengths) and a measure of foot overshoot (maximum height of the foot over the stair) were used to investigate the timing of the shift for the 2 boys. Magnitude of overshoot decreased with age and with increased use of the more advanced pattern. Immature balance and an initial need to visually guide the foot to the next step may be important factors in the timing of the pattern shift.

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William G. Thorland, Glen O. Johnson, Craig J. Cisar, Terry J. Housh and Gerald D. Tharp

This study assessed strength and muscular power of elite young male runners in order to determine the relationship of these characteristics to age and specialization in either sprint or middle distance events. Forty-eight national junior-level sprint and middle distance runners were evaluated for isokinetic peak torque for leg extension as well as muscular power and fatiguability. Peak torque values were greater for the older runners and for the sprinters when measured at higher velocities. However, when adjusted for body weight, the peak torque values of the sprinters became significantly greater at all testing velocities. Muscular power values were also greater for the older runners, but event-related differences only appeared for peak power and mean power measures (being greater in the sprinters).

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Michelle McCalpin, Blair Evans and Jean Côté

Competitive engineering is a process whereby sport organizations modify the rules, facilities, and equipment involved in sport to facilitate desirable athlete outcomes and experiences. Competitive engineering is being increasingly adopted by youth sport organizations with empirical evidence positively supporting its influence on skill development and performance. The purpose of this study was to explore young female athletes’ experiences in their modified soccer environment. Seventeen recreational and competitive soccer players, aged 8–11, participated in semistructured photo elicitation interviews that featured several visual qualitative methods (i.e., athlete-directed photography, drawing exercises, and pile-sorting) to facilitate insight on their sport environments. Results revealed that the athletes’ competitively engineered soccer experience was perceived as being a distinct environment that emphasized personal development, positive relationships, and the underlying enjoyment of sport. These findings shed light of how youth sport structure modifications influence the athletes’ experiences, providing practical implications to further promote positive youth sport experiences.