The Association between Motor Skill Competence and Physical Fitness in Young Adults

By Stodden, David; Langendorfer, Stephen et al. | Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, June 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

The Association between Motor Skill Competence and Physical Fitness in Young Adults

Stodden, David, Langendorfer, Stephen, Roberton, Mary Ann, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

We examined the relationship between competence in three fundamental motor skills (throwing, kicking, and jumping) and six measures of health-related physical fitness in young adults (ages 18-25). We assessed motor skill competence using product scores of maximum kicking and throwing speed and maximum jumping distance. A factor analysis indicated the 12-min run/walk, percent body fat, curl-ups, grip strength, and maximum leg press strength all loaded on one factor defining the construct of "overall fitness. "Multiple regression analyses indicated that the product scores for jumping (74%), kicking (58%), and throwing (59%) predicted 79% of the variance in overall fitness. Gender was not a significant predictor of fitness. Results suggest that developing motor skill competence may be fundamental in developing and maintaining adequate physical fitness into adulthood. These data represent the strongest to date on the relationship between motor skill competence and physical fitness.

Key words: motor development, physical activity, product scores, skill acquisition


Developing healthy lifestyles includes maintaining appropriate levels of health-related physical fitness (e.g., muscular strength/endurance, cardiorespiratory endurance, body composition, and flexibility) and physical activity. Maintaining physical fitness levels may reduce mortality risk and incidence of chronic diseases (Blair et al., 1995; CDC, 2001; Freedman, Dietz, Srinivasan, & Berenson 1999; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2001) and muscular strength and endurance the functional limitations that lead to dependent care in the elderly (Brill, Macera, Davis, Blair, & Gordon, 2000; Buchner, Beresford, Larson, Lacroix, & Wagner, 1992).

While physical fitness in children, adolescents, and adults has been promoted (Blair et al., 1995; McKenzie et al., 2003; Okely, Booth, & Patterson, 2001; Sallis et al., 1997), relatively little is known about the effects of maintaining motor skills on physical fitness throughout the lifespan. Intermediate to high levels of competence in fundamental motor skills (FMS) required for successful participation in many sports and physical activities may be associated with higher levels of performance and health-related physical fitness. Many FMS (e.g., throwing, kicking, jumping, striking) involve ballistic actions that pit body mass against gravity, resulting in an increased demand for higher power outputs (Enoka, 2002; Fleisig, Barrentine, Zheng, Escamilla, &Andrews, 1999; Wrotniak, Epstein, Dorn, Jones, & Kondilis, 2006). FMS also may demand high levels of muscular and cardiorespiratory endurance to persist in these activities. In addition to body composition (level of obesity), these performance criteria are, in fact, foundational aspects of health-related physical fitness.

Although no formula exists for promoting sustained physical fitness and activity levels throughout the lifespan, identifying causal mechanisms and predictors of health-related physical fitness and activity is a crucial step toward developing strategies to promote and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Increasing physical fitness and activity during adolescence might mitigate the decline in these levels observed in some adults, as attitudes and habits regarding physical activity are developed primarily during the preadolescent years (Malina, 1996).

Malina (1996) speculated that sports participation during childhood and adolescence might form the foundation for continued activity into adulthood. Tammelin, Nayha, Hills, and Jarvelin (2003) showed that children's participation in sports-related activities could be an indicator of their physical activity levels into adulthood. Children who participate in sports at least twice a week, join sports clubs, and achieve high grades in school sports are likely to maintain high levels of physical activity in adulthood. High-endurance sports and those that require or encourage diversified skills are the most beneficial to enhancing adult physical activity and physical fitness.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

The Association between Motor Skill Competence and Physical Fitness in Young Adults


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?