A Narrative Review of Motor Competence in Children and Adolescents: What We Know and What We Need to Find Out

Luís Lopes, Rute Santos, Manuel Coelho-E-Silva, Catherine Draper, Jorge Mota, Boris Jidovtseff, Cain Clark, Mirko Schmidt, Philip Morgan, Michael Duncan, Wesley O'Brien, Peter Bentsen, Eva D'Hondt, Suzanne Houwen, Gareth Stratton, Kristine De Martelaer, Claude Scheuer, Christian Herrmann, António García-Hermoso, Robinson Ramírez-VélezAntónio Palmeira, Erin Gerlach, Rafaela Rosário, Johann Issartel, Irene Esteban-Cornejo, Jonatan Ruiz, Sanne Veldman, Zhiguang Zhang, Dario Colella, Susana Póvoas, Pamela Haibach-Beach, João Pereira, Bronagh McGrane, João Saraiva, Viviene Temple, Pedro Silva, Erik Sigmund, Eduarda Sousa-Sá, Manolis Adamakis, Carla Moreira, Till Utesch, Larissa True, Peggy Cheung, Jaime Carcamo-Oyarzun, Sophia Charitou, Palma Chillón, Claudio Robazza, Ana Silva, Danilo Silva, Rodrigo Lima, Isabel Mourão-Carvalhal, Zeinab Khodaverdi, Marcela Zequinão, Beatriz Pereira, António Prista, César Agostinis-Sobrinho

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    68 Citations (Scopus)
    70 Downloads (Pure)


    Lack of physical activity is a global public health problem causing not only morbidity and premature mortality, but it is also a major economic burden worldwide. One of the cornerstones of a physically active lifestyle is Motor Competence (MC). MC is a complex biocultural attribute and therefore, its study requires a multi-sectoral, multi-, inter- and transdisciplinary approach. MC is a growing area of research, especially in children and adolescents due to its positive association with a plethora of health and developmental outcomes. Many questions, however, remain to be answered in this field of research, with regard to: (i) Health and Developmental-related Associations of MC; (ii) Assessment of MC; (iii) Prevalence and Trends of MC; (iv) Correlates and Determinants of MC; (v) MC Interventions, and (vi) Translating MC Research into Practice and Policy. This paper presents a narrative review of the literature, summarizing current knowledge, identifying key research gaps and presenting questions for future investigation on MC in children and adolescents. This is a collaborative effort from the International Motor Competence Network (IMCNetwork) a network of academics and researchers aiming to promote international collaborative research and knowledge translation in the expansive field of MC. The knowledge and deliverables generated by addressing and answering the aforementioned research questions on MC presented in this review have the potential to shape the ways in which researchers and practitioners promote MC and physical activity in children and adolescents across the world.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number18
    Number of pages19
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2020

    Bibliographical note

    This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/).


    Funding Information: Funding: Luís Lopes is supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (CEECIND/01089/2017 and FCT/UIDB/00617/2020); Rute Santos is supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (CEECIND/01069/2017 and FCT/UIDB/00617/2020); Jorge Mota, Carla Moreira, César Agostinis-Sobrinho, Pedro Silva and Eduarda Sousa-Sá are supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT/UIDB/00617/2020); Erik Sigmund is supported by grant No. 19-03276S from the Czech Science Foundation; Irene Esteban-Cornejo is supported by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (RTI2018-095284-J-100) and by Funding Information: supported by the National Commission for Scientific Research and Technology of Chile (CONICYT—FONDECYT 11170525); Jonatan Ruiz is supported by the University of Granada Plan Propio de Investigación 2016 (Excellence actions: Unit of Excellence on Exercise and Health [UCEES]), by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), by the Junta de Andalucía, Consejería de Conocimiento, Investigación y Universidades (ref. SOMM17/6107/UGR); Antonio Garcia-Hermoso is a Miguel Servet Fellow (Instituto de Salud Carlos III – FSE, CP18/0150).


    • Fundamental movement skills
    • Motor coordination
    • Motor development
    • Motor proficiency
    • Physical activity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
    • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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