RQES Table of Contents
Relationship Between Fundamental Motor Skill Competence, Perceived Physical Competence and Free-Play Physical Activity in Children
Engaging in physical activity is often associated with
positive health outcomes, such as less chronic disease,
healthy weight, or reduce the risk of cancers (Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018a;
World Health Organization [WHO], 2018). Physical
activity is also related to positive cognitive outcomes
in young children including increases in executive
function and academic performance (CDC, 2010;
Khan, Raine, Donovan, & Hillman, 2014). Early childhood is an important window for developing healthy
physical activity behaviors because physical activity
tracks from childhood into adulthood (CDC, 2018b).
To reap health-enhancing benefits of physical activity,
the National Association for Sport and Physical Activity
and Physical Education (NASPE, 2009) recommends that
preschool children should engage in at least 60 min of
structured physical activity and up to several hours of
unstructured physical activity each day. However, studies
report that many children do not meet the recommended
amount of physical activity (Frank, Flynn, Farnell, &
Barkley, 2018; Pate et al., 2002). Even in early childhood
centers and preschools, children often spend a large amount of time in sedentary behaviors (Bower et al.,
2008; Dowda, Pate, Trost, Almeida, & Sirard, 2004;
Staiano, Webster, Allen, Jarrell, & Martin, 2018). Of particular concerns are girls who are less active and more
sedentary than boys (Frank et al., 2018).
The conceptual model proposed by Stodden et al.
(2008) suggests that there is a relationship between fundamental motor skill competence (FMSC), which consists of locomotor and object control competence, and
physical activity with perceived physical competence
mediating this relationship (Robinson et al., 2015;
Stodden et al., 2008). Children with higher FMSC and
higher perceptions of competence will be more physically
active (Fisher et al., 2005; Foweather et al., 2015; Williams
et al., 2008). Fisher et al. (2005) reported that FMSC was
weakly but significantly correlated with the whole-day
physical activity (r = .10, p = .039) and moderate to
vigorous physical activity (MVPA; r = .18, p < .001).
Further, they found that time spent in MVPA was significantly higher in the children who had higher FMSC
than the children who had lower FMSC. Similarly,
Williams et al. (2008) reported a significant positive correlation between FMSC and whole-day MVPA (r =
.20). Between locomotor and object control competencies, both subsets of skills were significantly correlated
with MVPA. Over time, children’s perceived physical
competence will have a greater influence on the associations between physical activity and FMSC (Crane,
Naylor, Cook, & Temple, 2015).
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