Team sports have been the popular learning content in middle school physical education for decades. Over the years, researchers have proposed that students spent different percentage of time in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity levels (MVPA) in team sports (Arnett & Lutz, 2003). However, the majority of previous studies have used cross-sectional design and repeated measures design has been scarce. Additionally, the gender and grade effects on students' MVPA time during team sports have been largely unexplored. The purpose of this study was to examine whether students' percentage of time in MVPA during team sports differ by activity, grade, and gender.
A total of 86 sixth to eighth graders (38 boys, 48 girls) participated in three team sports (i.e., catchball, soccer, and football) in physical education classes. Students' percentage of time spent in MVPA was measured by Actical accelerometer (Mini-Mitter Co., Inc., Bend, OR). Each student was measured three times in the catchball, soccer, and football classes with one period of class for each team sports. There was an adequate elapse of time between each of the testing periods to adequately reduce any carryover effect. A 2×3(gender × grade) MANOVA with repeated measures was used to analyze data.
Students in soccer and football classes exhibited significantly higher percentage of time in MVPA than they did in catchball class, F (2, 79) = 21.49, p = .00, η2 = .19. No significant difference was found between soccer and football classes. Boys had significantly higher percentage of time in MVPA than girls did, F (1, 80) = 25.84, p = .00, η2 = .24. Interestingly, seventh graders displayed significantly lower percentage of time in MVPA than sixth and eighth graders, F (2, 80) = 10.06, p = .00, η2 = .20. There was also an interaction effect between team sports and grade, F (4, 158) = 5.72, p = .00, η2 = .13. Specifically, sixth grader demonstrated higher percentages of time in MVPA in football than they did in soccer and catchball. Seventh and eighth graders had higher percentages of time in MVPA in soccer than they did in other sports.
The results suggest that students' percentage of time in MVPA varied as a function of activity, gender, and grade. When designing and implementing team sports in physical education, physical educators should consider these effects and adopt effective strategies to maximize students' MVPA time in class.
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