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Thomas Curran and Martyn Standage

Motivation research is central to understanding why certain students exhibit high levels of behavioral, cognitive, and emotional engagement with learning, and why others lack interest, display boredom, and withdraw effort (i.e., are disaffected). In this review, tenets within self-determination theory (SDT) are used to provide a theoretically-informed account of student engagement and disaffection in the context of school physical education (PE). Our review centers on the proposition within SDT that the satisfaction of basic psychological needs (i.e., for autonomy, competence, and relatedness) provide the energizing basis for optimal motivational functioning and wellness. Teacher strategies and class structures are reviewed in the context of whether they satisfy or frustrate these psychological needs. To amalgamate the reviewed literature, a mediated model depicting a ‘student-teacher dialectical’ framework is presented. Several practitioner recommendations for supporting student engagement in PE are then offered. Lastly, findings of past interventions within the school context are presented and discussed.

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Thomas Curran and Andrew P. Hill

Perfectionism purportedly bestows vulnerability to distress through an interaction with achievement and interpersonal stress. The authors test this by assessing athletes’ perfectionism and subsequent self-conscious emotion following repeated competitive failure. A total of 60 college athletes undertook three 4-min competitive sprint trials on a cycle ergometer and were instructed that they had performed the worst of all competitors on each occasion. Measures of perfectionism (self-oriented and socially prescribed) were taken at baseline and measures of pride, guilt, and shame were taken at baseline and three times following each successive failure. Across the successive failures, self-oriented perfectionism predicted within-person trajectories of decreasing pride and increasing guilt. Socially prescribed perfectionism predicted within-person trajectories of increasing shame and guilt. Furthermore, a combination of high self-oriented and high socially prescribed perfectionism predicted the steepest within-person increases in shame and guilt. Findings support an achievement-specific vulnerability hypothesis whereby those higher in perfectionism experience pronounced distress following competitive failure.

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Dylan O. Blain, Thomas Curran, and Martyn Standage

Purpose: Physical literacy is understood to be important for adolescents’ behavioral and psychological wellness. Yet, to date, limited empirical data exist to support such reasoning. Addressing this gap, the present study examined relationships between physical literacy and early adolescents’ physical education engagement, leisure-time exercise behavior, and psychological well-being. Methods: The physical literacy level of 187 early adolescents (M age = 12.84, SD = 0.55, girls = 99) was measured using the Canadian Assessment for Physical Literacy. One week later, data pertaining to standardized measures of engagement in physical education, leisure-time exercise behavior, and psychological well-being were collected. Results: Structural equation modeling revealed that physical literacy was positively correlated with physical education engagement, leisure-time exercise, positive affect, and vitality, whereas it was negatively correlated with negative affect. Conclusion: The findings from this work substantiate the contention that physical literacy has manifold benefits for early adolescents’ behavioral and psychological wellness.

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Thomas Curran, Andrew P. Hill, and Christopher P. Niemiec

The potential benefits of children’s engagement in sport for their psychological, social, and physical health are well established. Yet children may also experience psychological and social impairments due, in part, to a variety of detrimental coach behaviors. In the current study, we proposed and tested a conditional process model of children’s self-reported behavioral engagement and behavioral disaffection in sport based on self-determination theory. Results from a sample of 245 youth soccer players suggested that structure from coaches related positively to behavioral engagement and negatively to behavioral disaffection, and that these relations were mediated by athletes’ basic psychological need satisfaction. Importantly, and in line with our hypotheses, these indirect effects were moderated by autonomy support from coaches, such that the mediation was evident only among those who reported higher levels of autonomy support. These findings underscore the importance of coaches’ providing guidance, expectations, and feedback (i.e., structure) in a way that respects athletes’ volition (i.e., autonomy support).

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Daniel J. Madigan, Thomas Curran, Joachim Stoeber, Andrew P. Hill, Martin M. Smith, and Louis Passfield

Perfectionism predicts cognitions, emotions, and behaviors in sport. Nonetheless, our understanding of the factors that influence its development is limited. The authors sought to address this issue by examining the role of coach and parental pressure in the development of perfectionism in sport. Using 3 samples of junior athletes (16–19 years; cross-sectional n = 212, 3-month longitudinal n = 101, and 6-month longitudinal n = 110), the authors examined relations between coach pressure to be perfect, parental pressure to be perfect, perfectionistic strivings, and perfectionistic concerns. Mini meta-analysis of the combined cross-sectional data (N = 423) showed that both coach pressure and parental pressure were positively correlated with perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns. In contrast, longitudinal analyses showed that only coach pressure predicted increased perfectionistic strivings and perfectionistic concerns over time. Overall, our findings provide preliminary evidence that coaches may play a more important role in the development of junior athletes’ perfectionism than parents.

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Daniel J. Madigan, Luke F. Olsson, Andrew P. Hill, and Thomas Curran

With the increasing prevalence of mental health difficulties in sport, athletes may be at greater risk of burnout than ever before. In the present study, we tested this possibility by examining whether average athlete burnout levels have changed over the past 2 decades, from 1997 to 2019. A literature search returned 91 studies (N = 21,012) and 396 effect sizes. Findings from cross-temporal meta-analysis suggested that burnout symptoms have increased over the past 2 decades. Specifically, we found that athletes’ mean levels of reduced sense of athletic accomplishment and sport devaluation have increased. As burnout symptoms are now typically higher among athletes than in the past, we can expect more athletes to be prone to the negative effects of burnout. Sport is therefore in urgent need of prevention and intervention strategies to stop and reverse this trend.

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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.

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Martyn Standage, Lauren Sherar, Thomas Curran, Hannah J. Wilkie, Russell Jago, Adrian Davis, and Charlie Foster

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Kim Gammage, Rachel Arnold, Nicole Bolter, Angela Coppola, Thomas Curran, Lori Dithurbide, Karl Erickson, Larkin Lamarche, Sean Locke, Luc Martin, and Kathleen Wilson