Coach and Peer Predictors of Needs-Fulfillment and Self-Determined Motivation in Youth Soccer

Amanda J Kraemer, Purdue University


Self-determination theory (SDT) suggests that social factors, including autonomy support and involvement or social support are essential for positive sport outcomes (Mageau & Vallerand, 2003). During adolescence, a there is a transition from adults acting as the main socializing agents to adults and peers both having important socializing roles (Harter, 1999; Rubin, Bukowski, & Parker, 1998). Therefore, examining relationships with both coaches and teammates can provide insight into adolescent athletes' motivation. The purpose of this study was to examine how coach autonomy support, coach social support and teammate social support combine to predict adolescent athletes' self-determined motivation and fulfillment of psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. 142 youth soccer players completed a questionnaire assessing perceived coach autonomy support, coach social support, teammate social support, relatedness, autonomy, competence, and self-determined motivation in regards to their soccer experience. There was mixed support for the hypotheses. Teammate social support positively predicted self-determined motivation, and coach autonomy support was a marginally significant positive predictor. None of the hypothesized interactions among the social relationship factors were significant. Autonomy mediated the relationship between coach autonomy support and motivation. Relatedness mediated both the relationship between coach autonomy support and self-determined motivation, and teammate social support and self-determined motivation. Findings suggest that both teammates and coaches may predict psychological need fulfillment and self-determined motivation. Furthermore, there is preliminary evidence that particular combinations of social relationship factors might not be needed to have high self-determined motivation; rather, they appear to have an additive effect. Further study with a larger sample size is needed, however, to discount alternate interpretations of these findings.




McDonough, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Behavioral Sciences

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