Purpose: Girls participating in aesthetic sports may be at risk for disordered eating and low self-esteem. Informed by self-determination theory, the authors examined motivational climate profiles to understand how climate dimensions differentially relate to psychological needs satisfaction, self-esteem, and disordered eating. Methods: Female gymnasts, divers, and figure skaters (N = 183; mean age = 13.5) completed a survey to assess perceptions of the motivational climate, perceived sport competence, autonomy, relatedness, self-esteem, and dieting. Pubertal status was assessed to control for developmental differences. Results: Three profiles emerged: High Important Role/Low Performance, High Effort and Cooperation/High Rivalry, and Low Mastery/High Unequal Recognition and Punishment. A 3 × 2 multivariate analysis of variance revealed profile groups significantly differed on perceived autonomy, coach relatedness, and teammate relatedness. In addition, perceived competence, self-esteem, and dieting significantly differed by pubertal status. For autonomy, the High Important Role/Low Performance group reported the highest scores. For coach and teammate relatedness, the Low Mastery/High Unequal Recognition and Punishment group reported significantly lower scores than the other 2 groups. Postpubertal girls reported lower sport ability and self-esteem and greater dieting. Conclusion: Physical maturity and social context were important in explaining girls’ psychological needs satisfaction and well-being. Results add to the authors’ understanding of the complex nature and influence of the motivational climate.
Lindsay E. Kipp, Nicole D. Bolter and Alison Phillips Reichter
Maureen R. Weiss, Lindsay E. Kipp, Alison Phillips Reichter, Sarah M. Espinoza and Nicole D. Bolter
Purpose: Girls on the Run is an after-school physical activity-based positive youth development program designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological, and physical development. We evaluated the effectiveness of the program by employing a longitudinal design and mixed methods. Methods: Girls (N = 203; aged 8–11 y) completed survey measures of positive youth development constructs (competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring), physical activity, and sedentary behavior prior to, at the end of, and 3 months after the season. Subsamples of girls, coaches, caregivers, and school personnel participated in focus groups. Coaches completed information about their team’s community impact project and number of girls who completed the season-ending 5k. Results: The full sample improved in confidence and connection, whereas girls who started below the preseason average showed the greatest gains from preseason to postseason on all measures, and scores were maintained or continued to improve at follow-up. All stakeholders in focus groups corroborated evidence of season-long improvement in social and emotional behaviors and health outcomes. Involvement in the community impact project contributed to girls’ growth in character and empathy skills. Conclusion: Findings provide empirical evidence that Girls on the Run is effective in promoting positive youth development, including season-long and lasting change in competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and physical activity, especially among girls who exhibited lower preseason scores than their peers.
Maureen R. Weiss, Lindsay E. Kipp, Alison Phillips Reichter and Nicole D. Bolter
Purpose: Girls on the Run (GOTR), a physical activity-based positive youth development program, uses running as a platform to teach life skills and promote healthy behaviors. In this companion paper of our comprehensive project, the authors evaluated program impact on positive youth development by comparing GOTR participants to youth in other organized activities (Sport and physical education [PE]) on life skills transfer and social processes. Qualitative methods complemented quantitative data through interviews with GOTR stakeholders. Method: The participants included 215 girls in GOTR and 692 girls in the same grades and schools who did not participate in GOTR (Sport = 485; PE = 207). They completed self-report measures of life skills transfer, peer and coach relatedness, and coach autonomy support at the season’s end. GOTR subsamples of girls, coaches, caregivers, and school personnel participated in focus groups. Results: Girls in GOTR compared favorably to the Sport and PE girls on all life skills—managing emotions, resolving conflicts, helping others, and making intentional decisions—and to the PE girls for all 3 social processes. The GOTR and Sport girls did not differ on coach relatedness and autonomy support, but the Sport girls rated teammate relatedness higher. The GOTR girls’ scores on life skills transfer remained stable at a 3-month follow-up assessment. Stakeholders in the focus groups shared corroborating evidence that, through participating in GOTR, girls learn skills that generalize to school and home contexts. Conclusion: Using comparison groups, a retention assessment, and mixed methods, the findings provide evidence that GOTR is effective in teaching skills and strategies that generalize to broader life domains. The processes that explain group differences on life skills transfer include GOTR’s intentional curriculum of skill-building activities delivered by coaches within a caring and autonomy-supportive climate.