Improving Children's Coordinative Skills and Executive Functions: The Effects of a Football Exercise Program

Percept Mot Skills. 2016 Feb;122(1):27-46. doi: 10.1177/0031512515627527. Epub 2016 Feb 1.


Recent studies have focused on the positive influence of regular physical activity on executive functioning in children. Coordinative skills (agility) and executive functions (updating, attention, inhibition and planning processes) were investigated in children before and after 6 months of a Football Exercise Program compared to a control group of sedentary peers. The participants were 44 children aged 8.8 years: Group 1 comprised 24 children in a football (i.e., soccer) exercise program and Group 2 comprised 20 sedentary children. At pre-test and post-test, coordinative skills and executive functions were measured. After the Football Exercise Program, there were significant differences between sport and sedentary groups in coordinative skills and executive functions. The football group at post-test showed significantly larger gains than the sedentary group on measures of agility, visuo-spatial working memory, attention, planning and inhibition. Findings shed light on the issue to plan structured sport activities as a natural and enjoyable way to improve cognitive skills.

Keywords: aerobic exercise; agility; football exercise program; motor skills; planning; soccer; working memory.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Executive Function / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Motor Skills / physiology*
  • Soccer / physiology*