How Do Profiles of Need-Supportive and Controlling Coaching Relate to Team Athletes’ Motivational Outcomes? A Person-Centered Approach

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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Building on recent self-determination theory research differentiating controlling coaching into a demanding and domineering approach, this study examined the role of both approaches in athletes’ motivational outcomes when accompanied by autonomy support or structure. Within team-sport athletes (N = 317; mean age = 17.67), four sets of k-means cluster analyses systematically pointed toward a four-cluster solution (e.g., high–high, high–low, low–high, and low–low), regardless of the pair of coaching dimensions used. One of the identified coaching profiles involved coaches who are perceived to combine need-supportive and controlling behaviors (i.e., high–high). Whereas combining need-supportive and domineering behaviors (i.e., high–high) yields lower autonomous motivation and engagement compared with a high need-support profile (i.e., high–low), this is less the case for the combination of need-supportive and demanding behaviors (i.e., high–high). This person-centered approach provides deeper insights into how coaches combine different styles and how some forms of controlling coaching yield a greater cost than others.

Reynders, Van Puyenbroeck, and Vande Broek are with the Dept. of Kinesiology, and Ceulemans, the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium. Vansteenkiste is with the Dept. of Developmental, Personality and Social Psychology, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Reynders (bart.reynders@kuleuven.be) is corresponding author.
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