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Perfectionism in sports has been shown to predict longitudinal changes in athlete burnout. What mediates these changes over time, however, is still unclear. Adopting a self-determination theory perspective and using a three-wave longitudinal design, the current study examined perfectionistic strivings, perfectionistic concerns, autonomous motivation, controlled motivation, and athlete burnout in 141 junior athletes (mean age = 17.3 years) over 6 months of active training. When multilevel structural equation modeling was employed to test a mediational model, a differential pattern of between- and within-person relationships emerged. Whereas autonomous motivation mediated the negative relationship that perfectionistic strivings had with burnout at the between- and within-person level, controlled motivation mediated the positive relationship that perfectionistic concerns had with burnout at the between-persons level only. The present findings suggest that differences in autonomous and controlled motivation explain why perfectionism predicts changes in athlete burnout over time.
Daniel J. Madigan and Louis Passfield are with the School of Sport & Exercise Sciences, University of Kent, Kent, UK. Madigan is also with the School of Sport, York St John University, York, UK. Joachim Stoeber is with the School of Psychology, University of Kent, Kent, UK. Address author correspondence to Daniel Madigan at email@example.com.