Energy Expenditure of Sport Stacking

By Murray, Steven R.; Udermann, Brian E. et al. | Physical Educator, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview
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Energy Expenditure of Sport Stacking

Murray, Steven R., Udermann, Brian E., Reineke, David M., Battista, Rebecca A., Physical Educator


Sport stacking is an activity taught in many physical education programs. The activity, although very popular, has been studied minimally, and the energy expenditure for sport stacking is unknown. Therefore, the purposes of this study were to determine the energy expenditure of sport stacking in elementary school children and to compare that value to the energy expenditures of other activities often included in physical education curricula. Twenty-five children (mean age = 11 [+ or -] 1.6 years, 17 boys, 8 girls) had their expired gases analyzed via a metabolic cart for a 5-minute standing period to establish a baseline reading and for a 5-minute period while they were sport stacking. Energy expenditure was calculated as metabolic equivalents (METs). Repeated measures ANOVA was used to compare the mean METs between standing and stacking and between sex. Mean standing and stacking energy expenditures were significantly different. No significant differences were noted for mean energy expenditure by sex. The mean energy expenditure for sport stacking in elementary school children was 3.1 METs. The MET value for sport stacking is similar to other activities involved in typical physical education courses (e.g., bowling, dance, volleyball weight lifting).


Physical educators incorporate a variety of activities into their curricula each year to enhance their students' physical development (Kelly & Melograno, 2004). One popular, yet sometimes controversial, activity that is being included in the physical education curriculum is sport stacking (Baumgarten, 2004; Murray & Udermann, 2004; Udermann & Murray, 2006). Sport stacking (previously referred to as cup stacking) originated some 20 years ago and has evolved into a worldwide sport, complete with its own governing body: The World Sport Stacking Association (

Sport stacking has been purported to "result in many direct and indirect benefits" (Hart, Smith, & DeChant-Bruennig, 2006, p. 154). However, the benefits that have been shown to occur through empirical studies are hand-eye coordination (Udermann, Murray, Mayer, & Sagendorf, 2004), reaction time (Udermann et al., 2004; Gibbons, E., Hendrick, J.L., & Bauer, J., 2007; Liggins, Coleman, Solis, & Li, 2007), bilateral coordination (Rhea, Ludwig, & Mokha, 2006), and dual-hemispheric brain activity (Hart & Bixby, 2005).

The improvement in hand-eye coordination seems to be related to the time involved in sport stacking. Udermann et al. (2004) found that significant improvements occurred in hand-eye coordination and reaction time when second-graders participated in sport stacking for 20-30 minutes per day, four days per week, over a five-week period. Hart et al. (2006) found conflicting results, where no significant improvements were noted for hand-eye coordination in elementary school children after a three-week instructional unit on sport stacking. It must be noted, however, that Hart et al.'s participants only sport stacked for 10-15 minutes on each day and that different tests were used to measure hand-eye coordination. Liggins et al. (2007) found that a 12-week sport stacking program that had elementary school children stack cups for 15 minutes daily improved the students' reaction time. As a result, the authors stated, "Cup stacking may be a valuable component of the elementary school physical education curriculum."

The National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) stated that one of the major purposes of physical education is to develop movement competency and proficiency in students (NASPE, 1995). NASPE defines movement competency as "the development of sufficient ability to enjoy participation in physical activities and establishes a foundation to facilitate continued motor skill acquisition and increased ability to engage in appropriate motor patterns in daily physical activity" (p.

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Energy Expenditure of Sport Stacking


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