Document Type




Positive associations between motor competence and physical activity have been identified by means of variable-centered analyses. To expand the understanding of these associations, this study used a person-centered approach to investigate whether different combinations (i.e., profiles) of actual and perceived motor competence exist (aim 1); and to examine differences in physical activity levels (aim 2) and weight status (aim 3) among children with different motor competence-based profiles.

Materials and Methods

Children’s (N = 361; 180 boys = 50%; Mage = 9.50±1.24yrs) actual motor competence was measured with the Test of Gross Motor Development-2 and their perceived motor competence via the Self Perception Profile for Children. We assessed physical activity via accelerometers; height through stadiometers, and weight through scales. Cluster analyses (aim 1) and MANCOVAs (aim 2 & 3) were used to analyze the data.


The analysis generated two predictable groups: one group displaying relatively high levels of both actual (M TGMD-2 percentile = 42.54, SD = 2.33) and perceived motor competence (M = 3.42, SD = .37; high-high), and one group with relatively low levels of both (M percentile = 9.71, SD = 3.21; M PMC = 2.52, SD = .35; low-low). One additional group was also identified as having relatively low levels of actual motor competence (M percentile = 4.22, SD = 2.85) but relatively high levels of perceived motor competence (M = 3.52, SD = .30; low-high). The high-high group demonstrated higher daily physical activity (M = 48.39±2.03) and lower BMI (M = 18.13±.43) than the low-low group (MMVPA = 37.93±2.01; MBMI = 20.22±.42). The low-high group had similar physical activity-levels as the low-low group (M = 36.21±2.18) and did not significantly differ in BMI (M = 19.49±.46) from the other two groups.


A combination of high actual and perceived motor competence is related to higher physical activity and lower weight status. It is thus recommended to expand health interventions in children with components that foster the development of both actual and perceived motor competence. Health professionals should furthermore pay sufficient attention to endorsing children’s actual and perceived motor competence.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

APA Citation

De Meester, A., Stodden, D., Brian, A., True, L., Cardon, G., Tallir, I., & Haerens, L. (2016). Associations among elementary school children’s actual motor competence, perceived motor competence, physical activity and BMI: A cross-sectional study. PLOS ONE, 11(10).


© 2016 De Meester et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.