Perceived coach behaviours and athletes’ engagement and disaffection in youth sport: The mediating role of the psychological needs

T Curran, Andrew P Hill, Howard K Hall, Gareth E. Jowett

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Abstract

Examination of how coaches influence adolescents’ levels of engagement and disaffection in youth sport is important in light of the high attrition in this population. Grounded in self-determination theory, we proposed and tested a mediation model that described pathways linking perceptions of coach behavior (autonomy supportive versus controlling) to adolescents’ engagement and disaffection via psychological need satisfaction and thwarting in youth sport. One-hundred and fifty-three young soccer players (Mage = 13.96 ± 1.41) completed a questionnaire that assessed the study variables. Structural equation modelling supported the hypothesised model. Perceptions of autonomy support positively predicted psychological need satisfaction which, in turn, positively predicted engagement. Perceptions of controlling behaviors positively predicted psychological need thwarting which, in turn, positively predicted disaffection. In addition, a number of cross-over paths emerged. The findings substantiate claims that encouraging self-directed action, and reducing controlling behaviors, is critical in order to foster engagement and avoid disaffection in youth sport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-580
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Psychology
Volume45
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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