Changes in Motor Competence of 4-8-Year-Old Children: A Longitudinal Study

Pim Koolwijk, Ester de Jonge, Remo Mombarg, Teun Remmers, Dave Van Kann, Ingrid van Aart, Geert Savelsbergh, Sanne de Vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: The development of children's motor competence (MC) from early to middle childhood can follow different courses. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to describe and quantify the prevalence of patterns of MC development from early to middle childhood and to identify undesirable patterns.

DESIGN: The study used a longitudinal design. Data were collected in three consecutive years, between February 2020 (T0) and May 2022 (T2).

METHODS: A total of 1128 typically developing Dutch children (50.2% male) between 4 and 6 years old at baseline (M = 5.35 ± 0.69 years) participated in this study. MC was measured with the Athletic Skills Track and converted into Motor Quotient (MQ) scores. To convert all individual MQ scores into meaningful patterns of MC development, changes in MQ categories were analyzed between the different timepoints.

RESULTS: A total of 11 different developmental patterns were found. When grouping the different patterns, five undesirable patterns were found with 18.2% of the children, showing an undesirable pattern of MC development between T0 and T2. The patterns of motor development of the other children showed a normal or fluctuating course.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a lot of variation in MC in early and middle childhood. A substantial percentage of young children showed undesirable MC developmental patterns emphasizing the need for early and targeted interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024


  • humans
  • male
  • child
  • preschool
  • female
  • longitudinal studies
  • motor skills
  • sports
  • ethnicity


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