Exploring the effects of imagery on components of physical literacy among children


Physical literacy comprises four dynamic, interconnected components: affective (motivation and confidence), physical (physical competence), cognitive (knowledge and understanding), and behavioral (engagement in a physically active lifestyle; Whitehead, 2013). These components serve as the foundation of lifelong engagement in sport and physical activity, and thus identifying strategies that can help children become physically literate is paramount. The overall goal of our study was to determine whether imagery, coupled with physical training, could serve as one potential strategy. Specifically, the primary purpose was to examine the effects of a 4-week imagery intervention on: (a) the affective and physical components of physical literacy, and (b) imagery use and ability. A total of 9 children (male = 6, female = 3; Mage = 9.11, SD = .60) completed the intervention. Children in the experimental group received 4 weeks of guided imagery (3x/week), in addition to participating in their weekly sport program (soccer). Children in the control group also participated in their weekly sport program (basketball), but did not receive any guided imagery sessions. Analyses were conducted within a frequentist (independent samples t-test, paired samples t-test) and Bayesian (Bayesian independent samples t-test, Bayesian paired samples t-test) framework. Results revealed no between-group differences at post-intervention. Within-group analyses indicated that actual competence (p = .008, BF10 = 10.97) and perceived competence (p = .008, BF10 = 17.11) increased significantly from pre- to post-intervention for children in the experimental group. Practical and theoretical implications for enhancing children's physical literacy are discussed.