Self-perceived and Actual Motor Competence in Young British Children

Michael Duncan, Victoria Mary Jones, Wesley O'Brien, Lisa Barnett, Emma Eyre

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Children’s perception of their own motor competence is an important correlate of their actual motor competence. The current study is the first to examine this association in British children and the first to use both product and process measures of actual motor competence. A total of 258 children (119 girls); 4-7 years of age (5.6 ± .96 years) completed measures of self-perceived motor competence using the Pictorial Scale for Perceived Movement Competence in Young Children (PMSC). Children were classified as ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ or ‘High’ perceived competence based on tertile analysis. Actual motor competence was assessed with the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 (TGMD-2; a process measure) and a composite of 10m sprint run time, standing long jump distance and 1kg seated medicine ball throw (collectively, a product measure). Data for process and product measures were analysed using a 2 (sex) X 3 (high, medium, low perceived competence) ANCOVA, with Body Mass Index (BMI), calculated from height and mass, and age controlled for as confounders. Boys obtained significantly higher scores than girls for both the process (p = .044) and product (p = .001) measures of actual motor competence. Boys had significantly (p = .04) higher scores for perceived competence compared to girls. Compared to children classified as medium and high self-perceived competence, children classified as low self-perceived competence had lower process (p = .001) and product scores (i.e. medium, p = .009 and high, p = .0001) of actual motor competence. Age (p = .0001), and BMI (p = .0001) were significantly associated with product motor competence. Strategies to enhance actual motor competence may benefit children’s self-perceived motor competence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-264
Number of pages14
JournalPerceptual and Motor Skills
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright © Sage Publications


  • Fundamental Movement Skill
  • Perceived Motor Competence
  • Test of Gross Motor Development-2


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