EXERCISE AND QUALITY OF LIFE
Volumen 5, No. 2, 2013, 28-33
DIFFERENCES IN MOTOR ABILITIES OF CHILDREN IN
RELATION TO GENDER AND AGE
Miroslav Polimac, Mila Vukadinovic, Jelena Obradovic
Faculty of sport and physical education - University of Novi Sad
Six motor tests were applied on a sample of 48 children (33 boys and 15 girls) 5 and 6 years of
age (± 6 months), who attended sports school twice a week, in duration of one hour. The primary
objective of this study was to determine differences in motor skills of preschool children. Results
of multivariate multi-factor analysis of variance (MANOVA) show no statistically significant
differences in the overall system of analyzed motor variables in relation to gender and age
regarding the studied sample of children. Analysis of individual motor skills, using the procedure
of univariate multi-factor analysis of variance (ANOVA), revealed no statistically significant
differences in relation to gender and age factors. With respect to the age factor, a statistically
significant difference was obtained for variables: 20 meters dash, obstacle course backwards and
standing broad jump, in favor of the 6-year old children. With respect to the gender factor, a
statistically significant difference existed only for the variable seated straddle stretch in favor of
preschool age/motor abilities/differences.
Motor skills in young children are of general type (Bala, 1981; Nicin, Kalajdzic, & Bala, 1996).
They can be affected in the preschool period, i.e. in the period of 4 to 7 years of age (Bala, Kis &
Popovic, 1996; Lubans et al., 2010). Also, formation of motor habits can be affected in the
preschool period, which depends on morphological characteristics that form the basis for later
active engagement in sports, sports recreation, or simply for creating adequate capacity for
various activities in old age (Bala, 2004). In addition to the morphological characteristics, motor
skills and motor habits are also affected by both genetic and external factors. They primarily
affect the overall growth and development of children (Bala, Kis, & Popovic, 1996).
Based on the studies of preschool age, of 4 to 7 years of age, it can be concluded that there
are no statistical significant differences between boys and girls regarding motor skills (Stankovic,
1976; Pesic, 1984; Nicin, et al., 1996). However, some foreign authors (Keogh, 1965; Van
* Coresponding author: Miroslav Polimac, Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad,
Lovcenska 16, 21000 Novi Sad, Serbia
© 2013 Faculty of Sport and Physical Education, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
Differences in children’s motor abilities
Slooten, 1973, Frederick, 1977, according to Gallahue & Ozmun, 1998), authors from Slovenia
(Reitmeier & Proje,
1990; Videmsek & Cemic, 1991; Planinsec,
according to: Cvetkovic, Popovic & Jaksic, 2007) as well as authors from the region (Peric, 1989
& 1991; Pejcic, 2001; Katic, Babin, Rausavljevic & Blazevic 1996; Kulic 2005; Bala, 2002, Bala,
Popovic & Sabo, 2006) obtained the opposite results. The studies that have been conducted have
indicated the superiority of boys in terms of motor skills. Boys were generally better in the
manifestation of co-ordination, strength and speed, while girls were better in flexibility. Physical
activities are associated with the level of motor skills in boys. Greater emphasis should be put on
significance of engagement in physical activity in order to improve motor skills in preschool age
(Temple, Crane, Brown, Williams, & Bell, 2014). Testing of motor skills is an important element
of monitoring the motor development of children who are just starting or planning to engage in
sports. Development of motor skills plays a major role in the overall development of the young
The aim of the study was to determine statistically significant differences in motor skills
of preschool children, depending on their gender and age.
The sample of respondents consisted of 48 children (33 boys and 15 girls) members of
Sports School “Kinesis” in Novi Sad, of 5 and 6 years of age (± 6 months). Children attended this
school twice a week in duration of an hour. The following motor tests were applied: for
evaluation of the running speed - 20 meters dash; for evaluation of body coordination - Obstacle
course backwards; for evaluation of flexibility
- Seated straddle stretch; for evaluation of
explosive power - Standing broad jump; for evaluation of static power - Bent-arm hang; for
evaluation of repetitive power - trunk lifting for 60 seconds (Bala, Stojanovic & Stojanovic,
For each motor variable and for each age group and gender, arithmetic mean (A) and
standard deviation (S) were calculated, regarding the basic central and dispersion statistics.
Method of multivariate multi-factor analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed in order to
test statistically significant differences of an overall system of motor variables between boys and
girls of various ages. After that, a univariate multi-factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) was
performed in order to determine differences for each individual motor variable.
Multivariate multi-factor analysis of variance
(MANOVA) revealed no statistically
significant differences in the overall system of motor variables analyzed, regarding the gender
and age of the children from the studied sample (p = 0.73) (Table 1).
Univariate multi-factor analysis of variance (ANOVA) revealed statistically significant
differences between children regarding the manifestation of motor skills. When we take into
account only the age factor it may be noted that there is a statistically significant difference for
the variables: 20 meters dash, obstacle course backwards and standing broad jump (older age
group, both in boys and girls, achieved better results for all three variables). However, if we
observe the arithmetic means (AS) it can be noticed that older boys achieved better results than
the younger in all variables except Seated straddle stretch, while older girls were better than
younger also in all variables except in Bent-arm hang. Analysis of the gender factor, revealed
statistically significant difference only for the variable of seated straddle stretch (girls were more
successful in both age groups than boys) while other variables showed no statistical significance.
Depending on the factors of gender and age, it can be concluded that there were no statistically
significant differences between boys and girls of various age regarding any of the variables.
Descriptive statistics and results of the analysis of differences between boys and girls
AM D АM D
20 meters dash
F = F-test for univariate analysis of variance; p = significance level for univariate analysis of
variance; F = multivariate analysis of variance; P = level of significance in the multivariate
analysis of variance
By looking at the statistical significance of differences between the genders, it can be seen
that girls achieved better results for the variable Seated straddle stretch which is confirmed by
previous studies (Van Slooten, 1973, Frederick, 1977, according to Gallahue & Ozmun, 1998;
Peric, 1991; Gallahue & Ozmun , 1998; Kulic 2005; Bala, et al., 2006; Jankovic, 2014). Girls
more often practice playing that requires less dynamic, more precise movements, higher
concentration of attention, greater amplitude of motion (flexibility). It is also considered that the
female population is more flexible than male from the age of five until adulthood (Haubenstriker,
Zefelt, & Branta, 1997 by: Haibach, Greg, & Collier, 2011). Lower manifestation of flexibility in
boys may be explained by the activities they engage in: jumping, crawling, climbing, hanging,
lifting, carrying, running and the like. Practicing these activities contributed to the greater
development of motor skills such as coordination, strength and speed, and reducing flexibility.
Differences in motor abilities of children with regard to gender obtained in this study were
Differences in children’s motor abilities
expected, due to the specificities of activities the children are interested in and involved in during
the pre-school age, as well as gender differences.
Bala, et al. (2006) suggest that differences in motor skills between boys and girls of
preschool age occur because of the “motor potential capacity”, as well as other factors that help
this capacity to develop and manifest, as shown on this sample of children. In addition, the
differences between boys and girls in motor space can be explained by the higher trend of growth
and development of boys compared to girls, and reduced elasticity of muscles in boys (Cvetkovic,
et al., 2007).
Differences in motor abilities in relation to age, within this sample of children, are
confirmed by research results (Temple et al., 2014). The authors believe that the duration of
physical activity is responsible for the successful mastering of motor habits in older children,
which is a result of faster flow of pulses from cortex to the muscle effectors. It is known that each
performance of exercise at this age can have a positive impact on motor skills, and it has come
true in this sample of children, because older children have exercised longer in the Sports School.
Teachers and coaches working with children of this age, are recommended to form
homogeneous groups according to criteria based on the abilities of children, because there is no
statistically significant difference in relation to gender and age of pre-school children. Therefore,
it is necessary for experts to, instead of assessment of
“standardized”, monitor and assess
progress in terms of development. Thus, the impact on the motor skills of preschool children
through planning and systematic work is of great importance for the further development of their
motor skills. The differences obtained are valid only for the tested sample, and it is not possible
to generalize the data. For more detailed follow-up it is necessary to conduct a longitudinal study
with a much larger sample of children.
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