Our identity develops with age, and many impacting factors will determine whether it is healthy or unhealthy. A particularly fragile phase of identity development occurs during adolescence when level of motor competence may be influential, yet is rarely considered.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine male and female adolescent’s perceptions towards their motor competence and identity development. In-depth information was also collected to understand what factors are important towards identity development during adolescence.

Method: An explanatory sequential mixed methods study was used to examine the extent motor competence influenced the health of an adolescent’s identity. A sample of 160 adolescents (male n = 103, female n = 57, Mage = 14.45 SD = .75) completed the Adolescent Motor Competence Questionnaire (AMCQ) and the Assessment of Identity Development in Adolescence (AIDA). The AMCQ scores were used to group the participants into high (HMC = > 83) and low (LMC = < 83) motor competence.

Results: More females had less-healthy identities than males and those with LMC had less-healthy identities than those with HMC. Subsamples of 17 participants were interviewed in order to explain these results. The most at risk group, females with LMC, identified negative peer comparisons, poor social support and higher stress levels to achieve academic performance as key challenges.

Conclusions. Well-designed support services for those with LMC, especially for the females should incorporate activities to develop individual competency and close friendships.


adolescents, health, physical activity, psychosocial development

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