Controlling Coaching Behaviors and Athlete Burnout: Investigating the Mediating Roles of Perfectionism and Motivation

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Franklin University
  • | 2 University of Stirling
  • | 3 Australian Catholic University
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This investigation sought to replicate and extend earlier studies of athlete burnout by examining athlete-perceived controlling coaching behaviors and athlete perfectionism variables as, respectively, environmental and dispositional antecedents of athlete motivation and burnout. Data obtained from NCAA Division I swimmers (n = 487) within 3 weeks of conference championship meets were analyzed for this report. Significant indirect effects were observed between controlling coaching behaviors and burnout through athlete perfectionism (i.e., socially prescribed, self-oriented) and motivation (i.e., autonomous, amotivation). Controlling coaching behaviors predicted athlete perfectionism. In turn, self-oriented perfectionism was positively associated with autonomous motivation and negatively associated with amotivation, while socially prescribed perfectionism was negatively associated with autonomous motivation and positively associated with controlled motivation and amotivation. Autonomous motivation and amotivation, in turn, predicted athlete burnout in expected directions. These findings implicate controlling coaching behaviors as potentially contributing to athlete perfectionism, shaping athlete motivational regulations, and possibly increasing athlete burnout.

Kelly Barcza-Renner is with the College of Arts, Sciences and Technology, Franklin University, Columbus, OH, U.S.A. Robert C. Eklund is with the School of Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, U.K. Alexandre J.S. Morin is with the Institute for Positive Psychology and Education, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield, NSW, Australia. Christine M. Habeeb is with the School of Sport, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland, U.K.

Address author correspondence to Christine M. Habeeb at c.m.habeeb@stir.ac.uk.