The intrapersonal mechanism that drives and explains individual differences in motor development is still a relatively underexplored area of research.
In this study, we set out to determine whether in teachers’ perceptions, higher sport-learning capacity (SLC) is associated with the level of fundamental movement skills, and the changes therein over 24 weeks in 7-year-olds.
We assessed 170 children from eight primary schools in the Netherlands twice (T1, T2) in 24 weeks, using a tool to assess their FMS in applied settings (Platvoet, Elferink-Gemser, & Visscher, 2018). The schools’ eight PE teachers used a digital questionnaire to score their perceptions of children’s SLC (Platvoet, Elferink-Gemser, Baker, & Visscher, 2015). Based on their SLC, each child was then placed in the low (n = 33), average (n = 107), or high SLC-group (n = 30). We used a MANOVA to examine group differences, with the four subtests as dependent variables.
The results revealed that regardless of SLC-group, children improved their FMS over 24 weeks (F(4,163) = 10.22, p < .05, Wilks Lamba = 0.800). An interaction effect was found for FMS assessment and SLC-group (F(8,326) = 2.23, p < 0,05, Wilks Lamba = 0.899). The children in the average and high groups improved more on the moving sideways subtest than those in the low group (p < .05). The MANOVA showed a main effect for SLC-group (F(4,163) = 4.69, p < .05, Wilks Lamba = 0.804). The average and high groups outperformed the low group on the measurements for walking backwards and moving sideways (p < .05). The high group also outperformed the low group on jumping sideways at both measurements, while the average group only achieved this at T1. The high group scored better on jumping sideways than the average group at T1 (p < .05). No differences in proficiency were found between the three groups on the hand-eye coordination assessment (p > .05).
In sum, we found an association between children’s SLC and level of FMS and changes therein; this was especially pronounced in children with a lower SLC, who had a lower proficiency and improved less on the subtest moving sideways.