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The aim of this study was twofold: first, to examine the stability of the hypothesized conceptual model of motor development (without and with including various types of motivation) when children are followed up one-year later, and second to examine longitudinally whether changes in one model variable predict changes in other variables, according to the hypothesized pathways in the model. A sample of 361 Spanish students (50.7% girls, 8–11 years old) voluntarily participated in this study. In relation to the first aim, structural equation modeling revealed the expected positive relationship between the model variables in both measurement times. That is: actual motor competence (MC) predicted physical activity (PA) (p < .001), perceived MC mediated the relationship between actual MC and PA (p < .001), and autonomous motivation mediated the relationship between perceived MC and PA (p < .05). Moreover, the comparison of the invariance analysis showed non-practical differences between the unconstrained model and the constrained model, supporting the stability of the model over time. In relation to the second aim, the hypothesized model in Time 2 controlling for Time 1 values showed that changes in children’s actual MC positively predicted changes in their perceived MC (p < .001), which in turn, predicted changes in their autonomous motivation (p < .001), and PA (p < .001) at Time 2. Based on these findings Physical Education teachers are recommended to foster children’s actual and perceived MC as well as their autonomous motivation over time in order to promote PA strategies for lifelong health.

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APA Citation

Menescardi, C., De Meester, A., Álvarez, O., Castillo, I., Haerens, L., & Estevan, I. (2023). The mediational role of motivation in the model of motor development in childhood: A longitudinal study. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 66, 102398.


© 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (