Sports skill and physical activity level among adolescents

Por: Wenhao Liu.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Developing habitual physical activity (PA) participation has been considered as one of the top goals of school physical education programs. It is assumed that the learning of sport skills on the part of school students will be conducive to achieve this goal (Graham, Holt/Hale, & Parker, 2001). The purpose of this study was to examine the assumption that the learning of sports skill would contribute to PA participation.


Seventy-two girls and 66 boys from a small city in the United States voluntarily participated in the study. Participants’ sports skill level was rated with a five-point scale by the physical education teachers of the participants. The participants were grouped into either high (22 girls and 29 boys) or low (50 girls and 37 boys) sports skill group based on the results of the rating. A 24-sport, previous day PA recall questionnaire (Sallis et al., 1996) was administered to the participants. Compendium of physical activities (Ainsworth et al., 2000) was used for the calculation of energy expenditure. In addition, the data of participants’ current involvement in organized sports was collected with survey sheets completed by the physical education teachers and participants.


The results of 2 × 2 (gender × sports skill) multivariate analysis of variance revealed that adolescents of the high sports skill group reported significantly higher PA levels of the previous day than those in the low sports skill group in each of the following six PA variables: (a) minutes of PA (M: 132.96 vs. 76.29, F(1, 134) = 13.31, p = .000), (b) minutes of moderate and vigorous (MV) PA (107.67 vs. 45.74, F(1, 134) = 21.92, p = .000), (c) MET score (12.67 vs. 6.16, F(1, 134) = 17.71, p = .000), (d) MVPA MET score (11.21 vs. 4.44, F(1, 134) = 22.42, p = .000), (e) weighted MET score (13.87 vs. 6.39, F(1, 134) = 20.84, p = .000), and (f) weighted MVPA MET score (12.26 vs. 4.54, F(1, 134) = 25.95, p = .000). Further, the results of Chi Square tests indicated that significantly larger portion of participants in high sports skill group than in low sports skill group achieved the criterion of 30-min cumulative MVPA (80.4% vs. 43.7%, 2 = 17.71, p = .000) and were involved in organized sports (64.7% vs. 13.8%, 2 = 37.93, p = .000).

Discussion / Conclusions

The results of the study support the assumption that the learning of sports skill contributes to PA participation. Specifically, the learning of sports skill on the part of adolescents is conducive to their involvement in organized sports and, as a result, enhance their PA participation considerably. The results, however, also raise the concern of how to promote the learning of sports skill for all children and adolescents and make them all become competent in participating in sports and PA.


[1]. Graham, G., Holt/Hale, S. A., & Parker, M. (2001). Children Moving. California, the United States: Mayfield Publishing Company.
[2]. Sallis et al. (1996). Med Sci Sports Exerc. 28, 840-851.
[3]. Ainsworth et al. (2000). Med Sci Sports Exerc. 32, S498-516.



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