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Correlates of gross motor competence in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Version 2 2024-06-04, 01:28
Version 1 2016-05-04, 12:07
journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-04, 01:28 authored by Lisa BarnettLisa Barnett, Samuel LaiSamuel Lai, SLC Veldman, LL Hardy, DP Cliff, PJ Morgan, A Zask, DR Lubans, SP Shultz, Nicky RidgersNicky Ridgers, E Rush, Helen BrownHelen Brown, AD Okely
BACKGROUND: Gross motor competence confers health benefits, but levels in children and adolescents are low. While interventions can improve gross motor competence, it remains unclear which correlates should be targeted to ensure interventions are most effective, and for whom targeted and tailored interventions should be developed. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this systematic review was to identify the potential correlates of gross motor competence in typically developing children and adolescents (aged 3-18 years) using an ecological approach. METHODS: Motor competence was defined as gross motor skill competency, encompassing fundamental movement skills and motor coordination, but excluding motor fitness. Studies needed to assess a summary score of at least one aspect of motor competence (i.e., object control, locomotor, stability, or motor coordination). A structured electronic literature search was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses statement. Six electronic databases (CINAHL Complete, ERIC, MEDLINE Complete, PsycINFO(®), Scopus and SPORTDiscus with Full Text) were searched from 1994 to 5 August 2014. Meta-analyses were conducted to determine the relationship between potential correlates and motor competency if at least three individual studies investigated the same correlate and also reported standardized regression coefficients. RESULTS: A total of 59 studies were identified from 22 different countries, published between 1995 and 2014. Studies reflected the full range of age groups. The most examined correlates were biological and demographic factors. Age (increasing) was a correlate of children's motor competence. Weight status (healthy), sex (male) and socioeconomic background (higher) were consistent correlates for certain aspects of motor competence only. Physical activity and sport participation constituted the majority of investigations in the behavioral attributes and skills category. Whilst we found physical activity to be a positive correlate of skill composite and motor coordination, we also found indeterminate evidence for physical activity being a correlate of object control or locomotor skill competence. Few studies investigated cognitive, emotional and psychological factors, cultural and social factors or physical environment factors as correlates of motor competence. CONCLUSION: This systematic review is the first that has investigated correlates of gross motor competence in children and adolescents. A strength is that we categorized correlates according to the specific ways motor competence has been defined and operationalized (object control, motor coordination, etc.), which enables us to have an understanding of what correlates assist what types of motor competence. Indeed our findings do suggest that evidence for some correlates differs according to how motor competence is operationalized.



Sports medicine






Berlin, Germany







Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal, C Journal article

Copyright notice

2016, The Authors