PURPOSE: Fundamental motor skills (FMS) contribute to positive health trajectories. A high level of competence in ball skills (a subset of FMS) is a predictor for time spent in moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activity during adolescence. This study examined the effects of a ball skills intervention on ball skill competence among preschool-aged boys and girls.
METHODS: This is a two-armed randomized controlled trial. A total of 124 preschoolers (Mage ± SD = 48.14 ± 6.62 months) were randomly assigned to one of two groups, the Children's Health Activity Motor Program (CHAMP; n = 81) or control (n = 43). FMS were measured before, after (9 wk), and at retention (18 wk) using the object control subscale of the Test of Gross Motor Development, Second Edition. Changes in ball skill scores were calculated (pretest-posttest, pretest-retention, posttest-retention) and were compared using one-way ANOVAs with post hoc Scheffe analysis.
RESULTS: Findings support that groups demonstrated significantly different rates of change from pretest to posttest (F3,117 = 179.45, P < 0.001), pretest to retention (F3,113 = 95.8, P < 0.001), and posttest to retention (F3,113 = 189.89, P < 0.001). Compared with their control group peers, CHAMP boys and girls had greater positive rates of change from pretest to posttest and pretest to retention as well as greater negative rates of change from posttest to retention.
CONCLUSIONS: CHAMP was effective in improving and maintaining ball skills in preschool-age boys and girls. Findings support that providing a high-quality motor skill program in early childhood settings could potentially be a sustainable public health approach to promoting FMS and positive developmental trajectories for health.