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

Ali Brian, Farid Bardid, Lisa M. Barnett, Frederik J.A. Deconinck, Matthieu Lenoir, Jacqueline D. Goodway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
88 Downloads (Pure)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S320-S336
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Motor Learning and Development
Issue numbers2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2018


  • fundamental motor skills
  • motor assessment
  • early childhood
  • cross-cultural comparison


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