OBJECTIVES: To evaluate if neuromuscular performance and hypermobility are factors associated with children's motor competence.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional observation study.
METHODS: Data was collected on 60 children aged 6-12 years; motor competence was determined using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children-2 test, with children classified into 3 groups (Typically Developing n=30; 'At Risk' of low motor competence (LMC) n=9; LMC n=21). Neuromuscular performance was determined utilising the Resistance Training Skills Battery for Children (RTSBc), 5-repetition maximum (5RM) leg press and Biodex dynamometry to assess isometric and isokinetic peak torque of the knee flexors and extensors. Hypermobility was measured using the Beighton and Lower Limb Assessment Score.
RESULTS: Between-groups MANCOVA revealed typically developing children scored significantly higher on the RTSBc than those 'at risk' of LMC (p=0.021) and those in the LMC group (p<0.001). 5RM scores also differed between groups, with typically developing children achieving significantly higher scores than the LMC group. No differences were found between groups for isometric or isokinetic measures of strength. Sequential regression analysis revealed neuromuscular performance variables explained 44.7% of the variance in motor competence, with RTSBc (p<0.001) and 5RM (p=0.019) emerging as positive significant predictors. Hypermobility failed to explain significant variance in motor competence beyond that explained by neuromuscular performance.
CONCLUSIONS: Neuromuscular performance of children varies according to levels of motor competence, with those with LMC performing poorly on tasks requiring multi-joint movement. Furthermore, neuromuscular performance predicted almost half the variance observed in motor competence and highlights a novel intervention strategy.