Investigating relationships between preschool children’s perceived competence, motor skills, and physical activity: A cross-lagged panel model

Suryeon Ryu, Jung Eun Lee, Wenxi Liu, Daniel J McDonough, Zan Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Motor skill competence (MSC) and perceived competence (PC) are primary correlates that are linked with physical activity (PA) participation, yet there is limited evidence of the mutual longitudinal or temporal associations between these variables in preschoolers. Therefore, this study's purpose was to examine the bidirectional relationships between MSC and PA, MSC and PC, and PC and PA in preschoolers over time.

METHODS: The final sample were 61 preschoolers (M age = 4.45 years, ranging from 4 to 5) from two underserved schools. MSC was assessed using the Test of Gross Motor Development, Second Edition (TGMD-2). PC was assessed using the Pictorial Scale of Perceived Competence and Social Acceptance for Young Children. PA was assessed using ActiGraph GT9X Link accelerometers during three consecutive school days. All assessments of MSC, PC, and PA were measured in identical conditions at schools at the baseline (T1) and the end of the eighth week (T2). We employed a cross-lagged model approach to understand the bidirectional relationships between MSC, PC, and PA.

RESULTS: The results showed that T1 MSC significantly predicted T2 MSC ( p < 0.01) and T1 MSC significantly predicted T2 PA only in girls ( p = 0.03). Additionally, a cross-lagged effect of T1 MSC and T2 PC was only observed in boys ( p = 0.03). Lastly, a significant association for T1 moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and T2 PC was only observed in girls ( p = 0.04).

CONCLUSIONS: Bidirectional relationships between the variables were not observed in preschoolers. However, significant gender differences were observed in each cross-lagged model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5620
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This study was funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (1R56HL130078-01).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Childhood obesity
  • Locomotor skills
  • Moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
  • Motor skill competence
  • Object control skills

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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