Anthropometric Characteristics, Physical Fitness and Motor Coordination of 9 to 11 Year Old Children Participating in a Wide Range of Sports

Katrijn Opstoel*, Johan Pion, Marije Elferink-Gemser, Esther Hartman, Bas Willemse, Renaat Philippaerts, Chris Visscher, Matthieu Lenoir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The aim of this study was to investigate to what extent 9 to 11 year old children participating in a specific sport already exhibit a specific anthropometric, physical fitness and motor coordination profile, in line with the requirements of that particular sport. In addition, the profiles in children with a different training volume were compared and possible differences in training hours per week between children from a low, moderate, and high level of physical fitness and motor coordination were investigated.

Methods and Results

Data of 620 children, 347 boys and 273 girls, who participated in the Flemish Sports Compass were used. Only the primary sport of each child was considered and six groups of sports (Ball sports, Dance, Gymnastics, Martial arts, Racquet sports and Swimming) were formed based on common characteristics. Measurements consisted of 17 tests. Independent T-tests and Mann-Whitney U-tests revealed few differences between the groups of sports and the discriminant analyses with the moderate and low active group did not show any significant results (p > .05). However, when discriminating among the high active children, a 85.2 % correct classification between six groups of sports was found (Wilks' Lambda = .137 and p <.001). Finally, children performing under average on the tests spent significantly fewer hours in sport per week (2.50 +/- 1.84 hours) compared to the children performing best (3.25 +/- 2.60 hours) (p = .016) and the children performing above average (2.90 +/- 1.96 hours) (p = .029) on physical fitness and motor coordination.


The study showed that in general, children at a young age do not exhibit sport-specific characteristics, except in children with a high training volume. It is possible that on the one hand, children have not spent enough time yet in their sport to develop sport-specific qualities. On the other hand, it could be possible that they do not take individual qualities into account when choosing a sport.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0126282
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 15-May-2015


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