Die motoriese ontwikkeling van Suid–Afrikaanse blanke skooldogters van 11 tot 17 jaar
De Jager, Daniël Kirstein
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The main purpose of this research is to ascertain the influence of chronological age on the motor performance of European school girls in South Africa. Various studies of the motor performance of boys have already been made in other countries as well as in South Africa, but few facts are known about the motor performance of girls. It is generally known that women of the earlier centuries were not normally allowed to participate in strenuous competitive activities - even participation in the usual forms of physical exercise and sports was considered unsuitable and harmful. Modern research has, however, proved that participation in sports and physical activities can only be beneficial to the normal, healthy female in all respects. Since 1928 women have been allowed to compete in the Olympic Games and today it is generally accepted that women should take part in competitive sports. The female should never compete against the male however, because there are too many basic differences in physical structure and capability between the two sexes. Up to the age of 10 or 11 years there is very little difference between the growth and development of boys and girls, but after the 11th year we find that the growth and development of the girl differs markedly from that of the boy. After the 11th year boys and girls should be separated when participating in physical activities. Boys would still compete in various age groups but such a classification would not necessarily be valid for girls any more. Research work done by Smith and others in South Africa shows that the motor performance of boys increases steadily up to the age of 20 years or more. The present study has been undertaken to provide similar data about the performance of girls in South Africa. A study conducted by McCloy in the U.S.A. proved that the motor performance of American girls increased up to 13 1/2 years of age and after that chronological age had no further influence on performance. One of the purposes of the present study is to check McCloy's findings against data about South African girls and it has been found that the motor performance of South African girls increase up to about 14 1/2 years and even later in some items. It is interesting to note that very young girls often perform very well in athletics, swimming, water-skiing and on the trampoline. Their performances usually surpass those of older girls and women. Considering this it seems that the present system of age classification of South-African girls for competitive purposes is an arbitrary one and not backed by scientific facts. The Test Battery and Method of Research. No satisfactory test battery for measuring the motor ability of girls was available in South Africa, therefore one had to be composed. The following items were included: 1. 100-yd. dash to measure speed and stamina. At least two girls ran together to provide some form of competition and each was timed. 2. Standing broad jump to measure "explosive" power and strength of the legs. The jump was carried out from a standing position on a board nailed to the ground. 3. Cricket ball distance throwing to measure "explosive" power and coordination of the arm and shoulder-girdle. 4. 8 ¾ - 1b. shot put to measure strength, "explosive" power and coordination. The shot was put from a circle 7 feet in diameter. 5. Basketball target toss for hand-eye coordination. A standard type basketball was tossed from behind a semi-circle with a 15ft. radius, to pass through a ring, 18 inches in diameter, attached to a loft post. Two points were awarded if the ball passed through the ring and one point if the ball touched the ring only. 6. A zigzag run to measure speed of the legs, agility and stamina. Five chairs were put down 10 feet from each other. The girls zigzagged between the chairs from start and back twice and were timed. Data was compiled during the first half of 1965 at schools in Pretoria, Vereeniging, Vanderbijl Park, the East Rand and in some Eastern Transvaal country districts. The girls were medically fit and wore athletic uniform during the tests. Every girl's age on the day of the test was written down and each was weighed and measured. They were informed about the purpose of the tests, and the importance of giving their best performance was stressed. The procedure and rules for each item were explained to them and the necessary demonstrations were given. A total number of 750 - 800 girls between the ages 11 to 17 were tested in each of the six items listed. Results. 1. 100-.Yd. dash: Girls of 13, 14 and 15 years perform the best Sixteen year olds also perform fairly well, but girls of 11, 12, 15 and 17 years of age do not reach the same level of achievement. 2. Broad jump: Girls of 13, 14 and 15 years of age are at the same level. Sixteen-and seventeen-year-olds jump better than any of the other age groups, while girls of 11 and 12 years jump much shorter than the others. 3. The zigzag run: The achievement graph for this item follows about the same lines as those for the 100-yards dash. Girls of 13 and 14 years perform the best, followed by fair performances by 11, 12 and 16-year-olds, and poor performances by 15- and 17- year-olds. 4. The cricket ball distance throw: Fourteen-year-old girls reach the best distance, though little difference is found in the achievements of 14-, 15-, 16- and 17- year-olds. Girls of 11 and 12 years reach only a very short distance in comparison with the other age groups. 5. Shot put: A general gradual increase in achievement takes place to reach a peak at 17 years. The increase starts from 11 years to 12 and 13, then continues to 14 and 15 years, where little difference is found between the two age groups. Sixteen- and seventeen- year- olds again perform a little better. 6. Basketball target toss: Girls of 15 and 17 years old achieve the highest score, though the scores of all age groups only vary from 6.5 to 8 points out of a possible 20 points. Conclusions. McCloy, who conducted a similar study of American girls, determined that chronological age has no influence on motor performance after 13 1/2 years of age. The results reached in the present study, however, show that there seems to be no absolute chronological age-limit at which the motor performance of South African girls reaches a peak in all fields of physical activity. These results show that speed increases up to 14 1/2 years after which chronological age has no further influence. In the zigzag run, where agility as well as speed is needed, the chronological age-limit of development of South African girls is 13 1/2 years. On the other hand the limit is nearer to 17 years in all items where strength and coordination are the deciding factors. Girls of 17 years old reached the best achievement in three of the six items of the battery, viz. basketball target toss, shot put and broad jump. They also performed second best in cricket ball throwing for distance. The 14-year-olds took second place, performing the best in the dash and cricket ball throwing, and second best in the zigzag run. Thirteen-year-olds took third place, being the best in the zigzag run, and second best in the dash -- both items requiring speed. When studying the results of this research we find peak achievements at 13 and 14 years and again at 17 years, while 15- and 16-year-olds gave surprisingly poor performances. Girls of 11 and 12 years old could hardly compete with any of the other age groups. It is clear that the present system of age classification of South African school girls is not based on scientific grounds or physiological principles. Results from this research can be used as a basis for the classification of girls, other than a strictly chronological one, in competitions related to motor performance. As yet it is impossible to explain why some age groups perform much better than older groups in some items. This can only be determined by means of a thorough study which also takes cognizance of other factors influencing the total development of girls. Such research should, however, be undertaken by women, because it would necessarily include taking certain anthropometric measurements and asking questions of a very personal nature. It can be mentioned that McCloy unsuccessfully tried to explain the differences in performance of the various age groups that he tested. Because men usually undertake research work of this nature, girls as a subject, are neglected for obvious reasons. There is still a wide scope for research in this field for some industrious women researchers. Needless to say, such research work would be extremely advantageous to physical educators and athletic coaches.
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