Contrasts in fitness, motor competence and physical activity among children involved in single or multiple sports

Salin, K, Huhtiniemi, M, Watt, Anthony P ORCID: 0000-0002-1084-750X, Mononen, K and Jaakkola, Timo (2021) Contrasts in fitness, motor competence and physical activity among children involved in single or multiple sports. Biomedical Human Kinetics, 13 (1). pp. 1-10. ISSN 2080-2234


Study aim: While there is wide debate around specialization in one sport, there is a lack of information about fitness levels and motor competence of children participating in single or multiple sports. Material and methods: The study involved 358 fifth-grade children who participated in a set of health-related fitness and motor competence tests over two consecutive years. A subsample of children (n = 109) wore an accelerometer for seven consecutive days. The independent samples t-test and ANCOVA were used to compare differences between single and multi-sport participants in study variables and changes between baseline and follow-up. Results: Multi-sport participants performed better in shuttle run (baseline/follow-up; p = 0.001/p = 0.006), push-up (p = 0.006/p = 0.036), and five leap tests (p = 0.001/p = 0.009) in baseline than single sport participants among boys. Likewise, multi-sport participants showed significantly more improvement in the throwing and catching combination test between study years among boys F1,159 = 3.570, p = 0.030. Among girls, no differences were found in any study variable between single and multi-sport participants. Conclusions: From the perspective of fitness and motor competence tests, there are no arguments for participating in just one sport at an early age. Instead, multi-sport participants performed better than single sport participants in the majority of test variables.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.2478/bhk-2021-0001
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3901 Curriculum and pedagogy
Current > Division/Research > First Year College
Keywords sports participation, fitness, organised sports, motor function, childrens health
Citations in Scopus 4 - View on Scopus
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