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In this study, we examined self-determination theory (SDT; Deci & Ryan, 1985) as a framework for understanding potential antecedents of burnout in 598 American college athletes. Using a cross-sectional design, the aims of the study were to investigate relationships among the dimensions of athlete burnout and the degree of self-determination among college athletes. As hypothesized, results indicated a strong relationship between the degree of self-determination and the dimensions of burnout, thus providing support for the utility of an SDT explanation regarding the occurrence of burnout. Findings also showed motivational variables to be the most powerful predictor of burnout (Devaluation, 44.5%; Reduced Sense of Accomplishment, 28%; Physical/Emotional Exhaustion, 15.4%). Implications of these results for researchers and practitioners are discussed.
Holmberg is with the Dept. of Athletics and Exercise Science, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA. Sheridan is with the Dept. of Educational Leadership, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA.