This study examined the role of fundamental movement skills (FMS) and perceived competence in the relationship between physical fitness and technical soccer skills in children. Seventy boys aged 7-12 years of age (Mean ± SD = 9 ± 2 years) who were regularly engaged in grassroots soccer participated in the present study. The Test of Gross Motor Development-2 (Ulrich, 2001) was used to assess FMS and the Perceived Physical Ability Scale for Children (Colella, et al., 2008) was used to assess perceived competence. Technical skill was determined from three tests reflecting dribbling, passing and shooting. Z-scores of each measure were summed, creating a composite measure of technical skill. Three measures of physical fitness were employed; 15m sprint time, standing long jump, and seated medicine ball (1kg) throw. Z-scores for each measure were summed creating a composite measure of physical fitness. The relationship between technical skill and FMS, fitness, perceived competence and age was examined via path analysis. Results indicated two significant mediated pathways: from physical fitness to technical skills via FMS, and from physical fitness to technical skills via perceived competence. Once these mediators had been accounted for, there was no direct link from physical fitness to technical skills. Coaches should therefore seek to avoid one-sided delivery of practice by not solely focusing on football type drills, and focusing on a range of activities which enhance a broad foundation of FMS and promote strategies to positively influence a child's perception of their own competence.
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- Motor competence
- Talent identification
- path analysis