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A great deal has been written about the motivation of young people in physical activity, and the determinants of activity for this age group have been identified as a research priority. Despite this, there are few large-scale studies identifying “types” or “clusters” of young people based on their scores on validated motivation inventories. This study reports the results of a cluster analysis of a large national sample (n = 2,510) of 12- to 15-year-olds using contemporary approaches to physical activity motivation: achievement goal orientations, self-determination theory (including amotivation), the nature of athletic ability beliefs, and perceived competence. Five meaningful clusters were identified reflecting two highly motivated and two less well-motivated clusters, as well as a clearly amotivated cluster. Groupings were validated by investigating differences in physical activity participation and perceptions of physical self-worth. Some clusters reflected age and gender differences. The results provide valuable information for likely strategies to promote physical activity in young people.
Stuart Biddle is with the Institute of Youth Sport, Dept. of Physical Education, Sports Science & Recreation Management, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leics. LE11 3TU, UK. John Wang is there on a graduate scholarship from Nanyang Technical University in Singapore.