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Thomas Curran, Andrew P. Hill, Howard K. Hall and Gareth E. Jowett

Youth sport is a source of well-being for adolescents, yet experiences vary and attrition can be high. We sought to better understand the coach behaviors that foster positive experiences in youth sport by examining relationships between the motivational climate and athlete engagement (viz., confidence, dedication, enthusiasm, and vigor). We reasoned that a mastery climate (emphasis on effort and learning) would correspond with higher engagement, whereas a performance climate (emphasis on ability and outcome) was expected to correspond with lower engagement. Two-hundred sixty adolescent soccer players completed measures of engagement and perceived coach motivational climate. All dimensions of engagement were positively predicted by a mastery climate. Furthermore, cognitive aspects of engagement were positively predicted by a performance climate. Canonical correlation analysis indicated that a composite of engagement was positively associated with a mastery climate. Results suggest that a mastery climate offers a means of promoting higher levels of overall engagement.

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Thomas Curran, Andrew P. Hill, Nikos Ntoumanis, Howard K. Hall and Gareth E. Jowett

Research adopting self-determination theory (SDT) supports a mediation model whereby coach motivational styles (autonomy support and interpersonal control) predict athletes’ engagement and disaffection in youth sport via the satisfaction and frustration of psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness). Our study extends this research by examining SDT’s mediation model longitudinally with three waves of data. Two hundred fifty-two youth sports participants (M age = 12.98; SD = 1.84; range = 11–17; female n = 67) completed measures of study variables at the start, middle, and end of a competitive soccer season. Cross-lagged path analyses revealed that associations between the two coach motivational styles and athletes’ engagement were mediated by psychological need satisfaction. Furthermore, a positive reciprocal association between psychological need satisfaction and engagement emerged over time. This study therefore supports the temporal assumptions underpinning SDT’s mediation model but, importantly, evidences a mutually reinforcing interplay between athletes’ psychological needs and their engaged behavior.