Changes in motor competence over four decades in 10 to 14-year-old Austrian boys

  • Klaus Greier Department of Sport Science, University Innsbruck
  • Herbert Riechelmann Medical University Innsbruck
  • Gerhard Ruedl Department of Sport Science, University Innsbruck
  • Clemens Drenowatz University of Education Upper Austria, Division of Physical Education, Linz
Keywords: motor skills, secular trends, physical fitness, youth, adolescents


Background: Data on secular trends in motor competence in children and adolescents has been equivocal. While several studies have shown a decline in motor competence over the last several decades there is also research that showed no change or even an increase in motor competence in youth.

Methods: Motor competence was assessed via 6 test items in 10- to 14-year-old Austrian boys in the years 1972, 1987 and 2015. At each measurement time participants performed 20m sprint, 800m run, sit ups, jump and reach, one-leg stand and stand and reach tests in the school gymnasium during regular school time. Data across measurement times was compared using weighted means across 5 age groups with pooled standard deviations.

Results: Average performance on the 20m sprint, jump and reach test and one leg stand improved significantly (p<0.05) from 1972 to 2015 by 0.3 seconds, 3.9 cm and 3.5 seconds, respectively. Time for the 800m run increased significantly by 15% (p<0.01), indicating a decline in endurance. Flexibility, measured by the stand and reach test, also declined significantly (p=0.02) from 1972 to 2015. There was no significant difference in the number of sit ups performed at the 3 measurement times. 

Conclusion: Results of the present study do not show a general decline in motor competence in male middle-school students over the last 4 decades. Rather, secular trends differ by specific components contributing to overall motor competence with declines in flexibility and endurance but increases in power, speed and balance.

How to Cite
Greier, K., Riechelmann, H., Ruedl, G., & Drenowatz, C. (2019). Changes in motor competence over four decades in 10 to 14-year-old Austrian boys. Current Issues in Sport Science (CISS), 4, 012.
Pedagogy & History