Motives for Participation and Importance of Social Support for Athletes With Physical Disabilities

in Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology

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Scott R. SwansonUniversity of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

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Tom ColwellUniversity of Wisconsin-Whitewater

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Yushan ZhaoUniversity of Wisconsin-Whitewater

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Disability sports organizations could benefit from a better understanding of the factors leading individuals with disabilities to participate in sport. This study explored relationships among four sources of motivation (i.e., escape, self-esteem enhancement, self-improvement, and social interaction) and six forms of social support (i.e., emotional challenge, emotional support, listening support, reality confirmation, task appreciation, and task challenge) among 133 male and 60 female wheelchair athletes, ages 13–34 years. Differences in motivation and social support needs were examined according to athletes’ gender, age, playing level, skill level, years of participation, and future playing intentions. Results indicated that males were more motivated than females were by desire for escape and that long-term participants were more motivated than novices were by self-esteem enhancement. Escape, self-improvement, and social interaction were stronger motivators for high school athletes than for collegiate athletes. Importance of social support types differed according to skill level, playing level, years played, and future playing intentions.

Scott Swanson is with the Department of Marketing & Management at the University of Wisconsin-Eu Clair. E-mail: swansosr@uwec.edu. Tom Colwell is with Wheelchair Athletics and Recreation and Yushan Zhao is with the Department of Marketing, both with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

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