Background Gross motor competence confers health
benefits, but levels in children and adolescents are low.
While interventions can improve gross motor competence,
it remains unclear which correlates should be targeted to
ensure interventions are most effective, and for whom
targeted and tailored interventions should be developed.
Objective The aim of this systematic review was to
identify the potential correlates of gross motor competence
in typically developing children and adolescents (aged
3–18 years) using an ecological approach.
Methods Motor competence was defined as gross motor
skill competency, encompassing fundamental movement
skills and motor coordination, but excluding motor fitness.
Studies needed to assess a summary score of at least one
aspect of motor competence (i.e., object control, locomotor,
stability, or motor coordination). A structured electronic
literature search was conducted in accordance with
the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and
Meta-Analyses statement. Six electronic databases
(CINAHL Complete, ERIC, MEDLINE Complete,
PsycINFO, Scopus and SPORTDiscus with Full Text)
were searched from 1994 to 5 August 2014. Meta-analyses
were conducted to determine the relationship between
potential correlates and motor competency if at least three
individual studies investigated the same correlate and also
reported standardized regression coefficients.
Results A total of 59 studies were identified from 22
different countries, published between 1995 and 2014.
Studies reflected the full range of age groups. The most
examined correlates were biological and demographic
factors. Age (increasing) was a correlate of children’s
motor competence. Weight status (healthy), sex (male) and
socioeconomic background (higher) were consistent correlates
for certain aspects of motor competence only.
Physical activity and sport participation constituted the
majority of investigations in the behavioral attributes and
skills category. Whilst we found physical activity to be a
positive correlate of skill composite and motor coordination,
we also found indeterminate evidence for physical
activity being a correlate of object control or locomotor
skill competence. Few studies investigated cognitive,
emotional and psychological factors, cultural and social
factors or physical environment factors as correlates of
Conclusion This systematic review is the first that has
investigated correlates of gross motor competence in children
and adolescents. A strength is that we categorized
correlates according to the specific ways motor competence
has been defined and operationalized (object control, motor
coordination, etc.), which enables us to have an understanding
of what correlates assist what types of motor
competence. Indeed our findings do suggest that evidence
for some correlates differs according to how motor competence