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Maureen Weiss

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Maureen R. Weiss

The purpose of this review is to characterize major advancements in the past 40 years of research on youth sport motivation. The author focuses on this period, during which the Institute for the Study of Youth Sports, affiliated researchers, and other scholars contributed to the current state of the field. First, she traces paradigm shifts that represent changes in the philosophy and practice of science in youth sport motivation research. Second, she discusses emergent theoretical perspectives that guided empirical research and produced robust findings on predictors, mediators, and outcomes of motivation. Third, she translates these theories and associated studies to inform evidence-based best practices for youth sport programs. Finally, the author recommends that future research highlight developmental approaches, examine sport as a means of promoting physical activity, and consider multidisciplinary perspectives on conducive topics. By reflecting on paradigm shifts and research trends over time, scholars can meaningfully contribute to an increased understanding of youth sport motivation in the decades to come.

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Maureen R. Weiss

Psychological skills and methods that can be applied to working with children and adolescents in sport are examined from a theory-to-practice as well as a practice-to-theory approach. In addition to an emphasis on the reciprocal nature of theory and practice, the philosophy adopted in this paper includes a focus on personal development rather than performance, and a multidisciplinary or integrated sport science approach to understanding children’s experiences in the physical domain. The types of psychological skills discussed are self-perceptions, motivation, positive attitude, coping with stress, and moral development. Psychological methods include environmental influences such as physical practice methods, coach and parent education, communication styles, and modeling; and individual control strategies in the form of goal setting, relaxation, and mental imagery. Numerous anecdotal stories based on the author’s experiences working with children and adolescents are used to support the major philosophical themes advanced in this paper.

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Daniel Gould and Maureen Weiss

This study was designed to determine if observing a similar or dissimilar model who makes varying self-efficacy statements influences an observer's efficacy expectations and, in turn, muscular endurance performance. Females (N = 150) were randomly assigned to groups in a 2 × 4 × 3 (model similarity by model talk by trials) factorial design or to a no-model control group. Model similarity was manipulated by having subjects view a female described as a nonathlete (similar) or a male described as a varsity track athlete (dissimilar). The four levels of model talk included: a positive self-talk model who performed and made positive self-efficacy statements, a negative self-talk model who made negative self-efficacy statements, an irrelevant-talk model who made statements unrelated to self-efficacy, and a no-talk model who remained silent throughout the performance. Self-efficacy measures were assessed in addition to performance on three trials of a muscular endurance task. Results revealed that similar model subjects extended their legs significantly longer than dissimilar model and control subjects. Moreover, the similar-positive-talk and similar-no-talk groups performed significantly better than the dissimilar-positive-talk, dissimilar-negative talk, dissimilar-no-talk, and the no-model control groups. Subject self-efficacy, however, was not found to be the major mediating variable affecting these performance changes.