OBJECTIVE. This study investigated the mediational role of team sports and other leisure occupations for boys ages 10 to 13 years in the relationship between physical coordination ability and perceptions of loneliness.
METHOD. Sixty boys with developmental coordination disorder (DCD) and 113 comparison boys without DCD completed a self-report measure of loneliness. Parents recorded information on leisure involvement over 7 days.
RESULTS. Boys with DCD recorded significantly higher loneliness and lower participation rates in all group physical activities, whether structured (e.g., team sports) or unstructured (e.g., informal outdoor play) than boys without DCD. An inverse relationship between physical coordination ability and loneliness was mediated by participation in team sports. No other leisure pursuits were found to be significant mediators. Childhood physical coordination difficulties were significantly associated with loneliness.
CONCLUSION. Participation in team sports acted as one potential mechanism mediating the inverse relationship between physical coordination ability and loneliness in boys. Occupational therapists can act as advocates to support boys with DCD who choose to participate in team sports. Further investigations are recommended to determine aspects of team sports environments that promote an optimal fit among child, activity, and environment.