Promoting ball skills in preschool-age girls.

Authors: Veldman SL, Palmer KK, Okely AD, Robinson LE


J Sci Med Sport. 2017 Jan;20(1):50-54

OBJECTIVES: Evidence supports that girls are less proficient than boys at performing ball skills. This study examined the immediate and long-term effects of a ball skill intervention on preschool-age girls' ball skill performance.
DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial.
METHODS: Girls (Mage=47.24±7.38 months) were randomly assigned to a high autonomy, mastery-based 9-week motor skill intervention (the Children's Health Activity Motor Program; CHAMP, 540min; n=38) or a control group (free-play; n=16). Ball skill proficiency was assessed at pretest, posttest, and retention test (after 9 weeks) using the object control subscale of the Test of Gross Motor Development - 2nd Edition. Treatment efficacy was examined using linear mixed models. Two models were fit: one for short-term changes (pretest to posttest) and one for long-term changes (pretest to retention).
RESULTS: Linear mixed models revealed a significantly time*treatment interaction for both models. Post hoc analysis confirmed that girls in CHAMP experienced significant gains in ball skills from pretest to posttest (p<.001) and pretest to retention (p<.001). Moreover, girls in CHAMP were no different from the control group at pretest (p>.05) but had significantly higher ball skills scores at both posttest (p<.001) and retention (p<.001).
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the positive effects of a ball skill intervention (i.e., CHAMP) on improving girls' ball skills both short- and long-term. Findings suggest that early childhood interventions that focus on the development of ball skills in young girls might be an avenue to improve girls' ball skill performance.



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