Motivational Climate, Psychological Responses, and Motor Skill Development in Children’s Sport: A Field-Based Intervention Study

in Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
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  • 1 Free University of Brussels, Belgium
  • | 2 University of Oregon
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Recent research in educational psychology suggests that provision of a mastery motivational climate will maximize enjoyment, perceived competence, and intrinsic motivation in children (Ames, 1992a, 1992b, 1992c). Minimal research has been conducted to test this proposition in the physical domain. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of a performance versus mastery oriented teaching program on children’s enjoyment, perceived competence, intrinsic motivation, and motor skill development. Children (N = 119) 8 to 12 years of age were randomly assigned to one of the two programs for 3 weeks during an organized sports program. Results revealed that children in the mastery oriented group reported significantly higher levels of enjoyment and exhibited better motor skills than those in the performance oriented group. In-depth interviews further indicated that children in the mastery program were almost unanimous in reporting high levels of perceived competence and intrinsic motivation, while those from the traditional group showed less pronounced effects. These results provide empirical evidence that a mastery motivational climate can result in more positive experiences for young athletes as they learn new skills.

M. Theeboom and P. De Knop are with the Faculty of Human Movement and Sport Sciences at the Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium. M. Weiss is with the Dept. of Exercise and Movement Science, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403.

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