EQOL Journal (2023) 15(1): 37-43
Motor competence of children with different levels of physical activity
Gojko Škundr
Draženka Mačak
Snežana Damjanović
Boris Popović
Received: 16
September, 2022 DOI: 10.31382/eqol.230605
Accepted: 15
May, 2023
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is published with open access.
Adequate development, testing, continuous motor
competence monitoring and physical fitness are very
important factors in the development of children
aged 7 to 10. The purpose of this study was to
determine the differences in the motor competence
of the children engaged in organized physical
activities in sports clubs and the children who were
not included in any kind of organized physical
activity. The study included 119 children, 57
children engaged in organized activities in sports
clubs (age: 8.44 ± 0.78; height: 133.17 ± 7.21;
weight: 31.96 ± 7.73 BMI: 17.9 ± 3.38) and 62
children who had no additional organized physical
activity (age: 8.43 ± 0.84; height: 134.85 ± 7.60;
Weight: 34.44 ± 9.20 BMI: 18.7 ± 3.68). Motor
competence was assessed by the Kiphard-Schilling
body coordination test (KTK). After adjusting for
age, gender, and BMI effects, we found small to
medium significant mean differences (p<0.05, d
[95%CI]) between the groups in hopping for height
tests (d=0.78 [0.41, 1.16]), jumping sideways
(d=0.79 [0.42, 1.17]), moving sideways (d=0.68
[0.32, 1.06]), and walking backward (d=0.44 [0.07,
0.81]). The results have shown that the children who
were engaged in organized physical activities in
sports clubs have a higher level of motor
competence than their peers who were not included
in the organized system in sports clubs. The authors
strongly suggest that teachers, educators, coaches,
and parents should encourage and include children
in organized systems of physical activity, i.e.,
training processes in sports clubs.
Keywords motor competence children health
physical activity.
A low level of motor abilities in children, due to
reduced levels of physical activity and fitness, has
a very negative effect on their health. This
phenomenon is very common and is found in
children around the world (Moreira et al., 2019).
Increasing the level of physical activity directly
affects the development of motor competence in
children (Stodden et al., 2008). Children who have
a high degree of motor skills have a higher share
in physical activity (Haga et al., 2008; Lubans, et
al., 2010; Wrotniak et al., 2006). It is very
important to encourage the development of motor
skills from early childhood (Hoeboer, et al., 2016).
Motor competence indicates that the level of
performance in various motor skills is very
important in children for developing a healthy and
active lifestyle (Cattuzzo, et al., 2016). If a child
has motor problems and does not solve them
during childhood, there might be a higher chance
that these problems will be transferred to
adulthood (Losse, et al., 1991). Low levels of
motor skills can result in behavioral issues and
lead to emotional and social difficulties (Mandich
et al., 2003). A decreased level of motor skills
negatively affects the quality of activities in team
sports and, in general, the aspiration to engage in
physical activity (Smyth & Anderson, 2000).
Quality and adequate programs can significantly
influence the development of motor skills and
improve the quality of movement (Mačak, et al.,
University of Novi Sad, Faculty of Sport and
Physical Education, Novi Sad, Serbia
EQOL Journal (2023) 15(1): 37-43
2021; Popović et al., 2020; Ruiz-Perez et al., 2018).
Most children should naturally enjoy physical
activities such as rolling, running, throwing, walking,
jumping, etc. There are an increasing number of
health problems due to a sedentary lifestyle, and such
children are more susceptible to low self-esteem,
motivation, and poor social competence (Bar-Or,
2005; Kalverboer et al., 1990) and very often feel
unhappy (Schoemaker et al., 1994).
Numerous studies have shown higher level of
coordination of the children who are training for some
sports and those who are not engaged in some
organized form of physical activity. A group of
authors alaj et al., 2016) states that multisport
programs can be recommended as the best type of
exercise for preschool children with certain
advantages over specific rhythmic gymnastics and
football programs. Another group of authors
confirmed that intensive sport-specific training may
extend young athletes’ motor coordination
characteristics in the ability areas depending on the
sport in which they engage (Jaakkola et al., 2017).
The main results of the study (Popović et al., 2020)
have proved that children enrolled in a
multicomponent sports activity have a significantly
higher level of motor coordination than children
enrolled in football. Therefore, they advise and
encourage parents, coaches and educators to practice
multisports exercise programs as the best physical
activity for preschool and younger school-age
children. Fransen et al. (2012) indicated the
importance of setting aside time for the realization of
various physical activities in various sports so that
children can develop their gross motor coordination.
In addition to the already established intervention
strategies, it is very important to use appropriate
measuring instruments. The Körperkoordinationstest
für kinder (KTK) is a reliable and inexpensive engine
motor coordination test that is already widely used in
the world. The KTK was developed in Germany for
testing children and adolescents ages 5 to 14 years
(Kiphard & Schilling, 2007). The KTK
(Körperkoordinationstest für Kinder) contains four
tasks: walking backward (VB), hopping for height
(HH), jumping sideways (JS), and moving sideways
The study of Lopes et al. (2012) confirmed that
motor coordination demonstrated an inverse
relationship with BMI across childhood and into early
adolescence. Stodden et al. (2008) claimed that the
level of gross motor skills plays a crucial role in
starting and sustaining physical activity and physical
fitness during adolescence and adulthood as a whole,
which is very important in a continuous struggle
against obesity and increasing numbers of chronic
heart diseases.
The systematic review of Barnett et al. (2022)
confirms strong positive evidence for the fitness-
mediating motor competence/physical activity
pathway in both directions, as well as strong positive
evidence for the path from motor competence to
health-related fitness and indeterminate evidence
from fitness to motor competence. Likewise, there
was strong evidence of a positive path from
locomotor/coordination skills to fitness in both
In other systematic review (Barnett et al., 2016),
authors recognized that physical activity is a positive
correlate of skill composite and motor coordination.
They also found indeterminate evidence for physical
activity being a correlate of object control or
locomotor skill competence.
The purpose of this research was to determine
whether school-age children’s motor competence
differentiates between those engaged in organized
physical activity and those nonengaged.
This cross-sectional study included 119 children in
two gender-balanced groups, 57 children engaged in
organized activities in sports clubs (the physically
active group, age: 8.44 ± 0.78; height: 133.17 ± 7.21;
weight: 31.96 ± 7.73; BMI: 17.9 ± 3.38) and 62
children who had no organized physical activity (the
physically inactive group age: 8.43 ± 0.84; height:
134.85 ± 7.60; Weight: 34.44 ± 9.20 BMI: 18.7 ±
3.68) (Table 1). The physically active children were
training for: football (15), volleyball (12), basketball
(11), athletics (8), and other sports (11). All
participants were students attending two elementary
schools in the municipality of Odžaci (Elementary
School Miroslav Antić” and Elementary School
Branko Radičević”). The flow of participants
through the research is presented in Figure 1 below.