Actual and perceived motor competence levels of Belgian and United States preschool children

Brian, Ali and Bardid, Farid and Barnett, Lisa M. and Deconinck, Frederik J.A. and Lenoir, Matthieu and Goodway, Jacqueline D. (2018) Actual and perceived motor competence levels of Belgian and United States preschool children. Journal of Motor Learning and Development, 6 (s2). S320-S336. ISSN 2325-3215 (

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Purpose: The present study examined the motor competence of preschool children from Belgium and the United States (US), and the influence of perceived motor competence on actual motor competence. A secondary objective was to compare the levels of motor competence of Belgian and US children using the US norms of the Test of Gross Motor Development, Second Edition (TGMD-2). Methods: All participants (N = 326; ages 4-5) completed the TGMD-2 and the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Movement Skill Competence for Young Children. Results: Belgian children performed significantly higher on actual object control and locomotor skills than US children. However, both Belgian and US children scored significantly worse on the TGMD-2 when compared to the US norm group from 1997-1998. Furthermore, perceived motor competence was significantly related to actual object control skills but not locomotor skills. Conclusion: The present study showed cross-cultural differences in actual motor competence in young children. The findings also indicate a secular downward trend in childhood competence levels, possibly due to a decrease in physical activity and increase in sedentary behavior. Future research should consider conducting an in-depth exploration of physical activity contexts such as physical education to better understand cross-cultural differences in motor competence.