Self-Determination Theory: A Case Study of Evidence-Based Coaching

in The Sport Psychologist

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Clifford J. Mallett The University of Queensland, Australia

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The coach is central to the development of expertise in sport (Bloom, 1985) and is subsequently key to facilitating adaptive forms of motivation to enhance the quality of sport performance (Mallett & Hanrahan, 2004). In designing optimal training environments that are sensitive to the underlying motives of athletes, the coach requires an in-depth understanding of motivation. This paper reports on the application of self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Deci, 2000) to coaching elite athletes. Specifically, the application of SDT to designing an autonomy-supportive motivational climate is outlined, which was used in preparing Australia’s two men’s relay teams for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

Clifford Mallett is with the School of Human Movement Studies, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia. E-mail:

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