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E. Whitney G. Moore and Karen Weiller-Abels

Youth’s likelihood of participating in sport increases when they maintain a focus on enjoyment, learning, and effort (i.e., task goal orientation) rather than how they compare to others and norms (i.e., ego goal orientation). Achievement goal theory research consistently illustrates the significant influence of leader-created motivational climates on their participants’ goal orientation adoption. However, the influence of caring climate perceptions by highly competitive adolescent athletes on their goal orientation adoption has yet to be examined. Thus, this study assessed how competitive, adolescent soccer players’ perceptions of the climate as caring, task-, and ego-involving predicted their adoption of task and ego goal orientations. Players (N = 152, 62% female, 12–14 years of age) in the Olympic Development Program completed a survey that included measures of the caring climate, task-involving and ego-involving motivational climates, and task and ego goal orientations in soccer. Path analyses revealed males’ task goal orientation was significantly predicted by caring and task-involving climate perceptions. Females’ task goal orientation was significantly predicted by their task-involving climate perceptions. Ego goal orientation was significantly predicted by all athletes’ ego-involving climate perceptions. This is the first study to support the importance of fostering a high caring, as well as high task-involving, and low ego-involving climate when working with highly competitive adolescent athletes to keep their task goal orientation high. Research replicating this study is warranted to provide further support for these relationships longitudinally and across ages and sexes.