Differences in motor competence, enjoyment, and weight status of young children (4-6 years)

Pim Koolwijk, Annemarie de Witte, Remo Mombarg, T Remmers, D H H Van Kann, Ingrid van Aart, Sanne de vries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Although research on children's motor competence is a growing field of interest, especially among young children (4-6 years), several questions remain to be answered. Differences in children’s motor competence and their determinants, must be made transparent since early childhood is a critical period for the development of fundamental movement skills, and thereby a lifelong active lifestyle and health. Objective: The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine differences in actual motor competence (AMC), perceived motor competence (PMC) and enjoyment of physical activity among young children with different weight status. Methods: AMC, PMC and enjoyment were measured among 1708 children (50.4% male, mean age: 5.34 ± 0.73 years) from 36 primary schools in The Netherlands. AMC was measured by using the Athletic Skills Track (AST-1). The Pictorial Scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence for Young Children was used for determining PMC and enjoyment of physical activity was measured using a Visual Analogue Scale. The data were analyzed using a three-way ANOVA to examine the differences between AMC, PMC and enjoyment by sex (boys/girls), age (4, 5, 6 years) and weight status (normal, overweight, obesity). Results: Overall, AMC was ranked as ‘average motor gifted’. Average PMC and enjoyment scores were 3.31 (SE 0.01) (1-4 scale) and 4.41 (SE 0.02) (1-5 scale) respectively. No interaction effects were found between sex, age and weight status on AMC or PMC. However, there was a statistically significant two-way interaction effect for enjoyment between age and weight status (F (4,1454) =2.464, p =.043). Relative enjoyment scores for normal weight and overweight groups between high and low enjoyment were distributed 99% to 1%. However, in the obese group there was a distribution of 92% to 8% between high and low enjoyment. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that there are no significant differences in AMC and PMC between children of different sex, ages (4, 5 and 6 years), and weight status in this age group. However, children with obesity more often experience less enjoyment during physical activity than children with another weight status. Targeted intervention for increasing enjoyment during physical activity in combination with reducing obesity seems advisable even at young age.
Translated title of the contributionVerschillen in motorische vaardigheid, plezier en gewicht bij jonge kinderen (4-6 jaar)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1471-1479
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Education and Sport
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2022


  • motor competence
  • young children


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