Motor Competence and its Effect on Positive Developmental Trajectories of Health


In 2008, Stodden and colleagues took a unique developmental approach toward addressing the potential role of motor competence in promoting positive or negative trajectories of physical activity, health-related fitness, and weight status. The conceptual model proposed synergistic relationships among physical activity, motor competence, perceived motor competence, health-related physical fitness, and obesity with associations hypothesized to strengthen over time. At the time the model was proposed, limited evidence was available to support or refute the model hypotheses. Over the past 6 years, the number of investigations exploring these relationships has increased significantly. Thus, it is an appropriate time to examine published data that directly or indirectly relate to specific pathways noted in the conceptual model. Evidence indicates that motor competence is positively associated with perceived competence and multiple aspects of health (i.e., physical activity, cardiorespiratory fitness, muscular strength, muscular endurance, and a healthy weight status). However, questions related to the increased strength of associations across time and antecedent/consequent mechanisms remain. An individual’s physical and psychological development is a complex and multifaceted process that synergistically evolves across time. Understanding the most salient factors that influence health and well-being and how relationships among these factors change across time is a critical need for future research in this area. This knowledge could aid in addressing the declining levels of physical activity and fitness along with the increasing rates of obesity across childhood and adolescence.

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The authors are indebted to Kara K. Palmer, M.Ed. We thank her for all of her patience and assistance with formatting and referencing this paper. No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no financial relationships or potential conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review. Drs. Robinson, Stodden, and Barnett collaboratively conceptualized and drafted the outline for this paper and are the lead authors. All authors (Drs. Robinson, Stodden, Barnett, Lopes, Logan, D’Hondt, and Rodrigues) worked collaboratively and provided substantial contribution to this paper, which includes drafting and revising the article. All authors approved the final manuscript and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work. Specifically, authors worked collaboratively on the following aspects of this manuscript: Dr. Robinson: the introduction, perceived competence, and future directions/conclusion sections. Dr. Stodden: the introduction, health-related fitness, and future directions/conclusion sections. Dr. Barnett: the physical activity and perceived competence sections along with the development of Fig. 2. Dr. Lopes: the weight status and future directions/conclusion sections. Dr. Logan: the physical activity section. Dr. Rodrigues: the weight status and health-related fitness sections. Dr. D’Hondt: the weight status section.

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Correspondence to Leah E. Robinson.

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L. E. Robinson, D. F. Stodden and L. M. Barnett were equal first authors and equally contributed.

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Robinson, L.E., Stodden, D.F., Barnett, L.M. et al. Motor Competence and its Effect on Positive Developmental Trajectories of Health. Sports Med 45, 1273–1284 (2015).

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  • Physical Activity
  • Weight Status
  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness
  • Middle Childhood
  • Model Hypothesis