Sports Medicine

, Volume 48, Issue 12, pp 2685–2694 | Cite as

Considerations Related to the Definition, Measurement and Analysis of Perceived Motor Competence

  • Isaac Estevan
  • Lisa M. Barnett
Current Opinion


The promotion of motor competence is integral to a holistic view of children’s development. Motor development models address the potential role of actual and perceived motor competence, physical activity and health-related fitness in children’s health. Actual motor competence and optimal levels of perceived motor competence seem to be key for engaging children and adolescents in physical activity and sports. Commonly, the assessment of perceived motor competence is carried out by using instruments originally developed to assess different constructs of physical self-perception with the consequent error assumed. The aim of this article is to therefore offer clarification regarding the concept of perceived motor competence in terms of the conceptual and theoretical framework used for its explanation. A hierarchical and multidimensional structure of global self-concept is proposed with perceived motor competence considered as a subdomain of perceived sport/athletic competence (depending on the age or stage of development of the child) and subdivided into different subdomains of perceived competence in stability, locomotion, object control and active play skills. In order to improve consistency in the approach to assessment, it is desirable that researchers report an agreed definition for the construct of perceived motor competence so that readers can recognise the assumptions within the study accurately. Furthermore, it is suggested that instruments characterised by an alignment between actual and perceived motor competence assessments will help us understand more about children’s motor perceptions.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Isaac Estevan is supported by the University of Valencia (grant number UV-INV-AE16-471273) and by the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte (Gobierno de España) en el marco del Programa Estatal de Promoción del Talento y su Empleabilidad en I + D+i, Subprograma Estatal de Movilidad, del Plan Estatal de Investigación Científica y Técnica y de Innovación 2013-2016, Beca José Castillejo para jóvenes doctores (CAS16/00048).

Conflict of interest

Isaac Estevan and Lisa Barnett declare that they have no conflicts of interest relevant to the content of this article.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.AFIPS Research Group, Department of Teaching Music, Visual and Corporal ExpressionUniversity of ValenciaValenciaSpain
  2. 2.Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN), School of Health and Social DevelopmentDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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