Motor Competence, Physical Fitness and the Impact of Sport Participation on Adolescents
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- Institutt for psykologi 
The objective of the study was to contribute to a better understanding of how motor competence relates to physical fitness in 15–16 year old adolescents. Furthermore, it aims to study what influences participation in sport clubs have on perceived physical fitness and various aspects of wellbeing in this age group. Paper I is a cross-sectional study and the measures used were included in survey data from a national survey of Icelandic adolescents, Youth in Iceland. Participants in the research were 10.987 14–16 year-old students, and the study investigated the effect of participation in organised sports in sport clubs on adolescents’ body image, mental and physical conditions, and future expectations towards education, work and happiness. Paper II is a correlational study, where the relationship between motor competence and physical fitness was examined in adolescents. Paper III is a comparative study between two groups of adolescents; a group with low motor competence (LMC) and a high motor competence (HMC) group. Paper IV is a cross-sectional design, which investigated the relationship between motor competence and physical fitness across three age groups from childhood to adolescents, ages 4–16 years old. The findings, presented in the four papers (I–IV), suggest that organized sport clubs promote a positive influence on adolescents. There was a significant difference between different levels of sport participation in sport clubs and perceived body image, mental and physical conditions. In all cases the participants that participated often in sport clubs reported better mental and physical conditions than those who participated seldom or never (paper I). A significant but weak relationship (r = 0.25, p < 0.05) was reported between motor competence and physical fitness for the whole sample of 94 adolescents, while the correlation was significant for the girls (r = 0.35, p = 0.05) but not for the boys (r = 0.28, p < ns) (Paper II). Adolescents with high motor competence (HMC) scored higher on the physical fitness tasks than adolescents with low motor competence (LMC). A significant difference was found between the LMC group and the HMC group in all physical fitness tasks except the endurance task (Reduced Cooper Test) (paper III). The results show a significant correlation between motor competence and physical fitness in the 4–6year-old age group (r = 0.56, p < 0.001), and the 11–12 year olds (r = 0.44, p < 0.001), but not in the 15–16-year-old age group (r = 0.20, p = ns). The correlation between motor competence and physical fitness seems to decrease with an increase in age, as the study showed a statistically significant difference between the youngest age groups and the adolescent group (paper IV). The results might suggest that motor competence might not be as critical in 15–16 year-old adolescents in maintaining physical fitness as in younger age groups. It can be concluded from the studies that the sport club environment has a positive effect on adolescents’ wellbeing beyond physical fitness. Secondly, adolescents with high motor competence have a significantly higher level of physical fitness than adolescents with low motor competence. Finally, the correlation between motor competence and physical fitness is stronger in younger children than adolescents.