Roberts, G., Ommundsen, Y., Sorensen, M., Sisjord, M., & Faasting, K. (2009). Motivational climate effects on motivation regulation, peer relationships, empowerment, affect, and bullying in sport! A paper presented at the 14th Annual Congress of the European College of Sport Science, Oslo, Norway, June 24-27.

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"Current approaches to subjective well-being and ill-being in sport suggest that differences in the motivational sport environment, specifically the motivational climate the coach creates within the sport context, may influence psychological outcomes of participation."

This study examined the association of the motivational climate to a range of potential beneficial and aversive psychosocial outcomes of soccer involvement for youths (M = 787; F = 507) aged 12-16 years. Scales assessing the motivational climate and various indices of psychosocial health were administered.

Multivariate canonical analyses revealed that a Mastery involving motivational climate was associated with psychologically healthy sport involvement outcomes. These outcome variables consisted of higher perceptions of autonomy, positive affect and perceived ability, more autonomous regulation of motivation in that positive associations with intrinsic and identified regulation of motivation were found, positive association with task involvement, and positive peer relationships. Negative relationships were found for external motivation and amotivation. In contrast, a primarily performance involving motivational climate was associated with negative psychological outcomes from soccer involvement.

Implication. Coaches who emphasize winning as the criterion of success in youth sport put the subjective well-being of the participants in jeopardy. Two patterns of relationships were observed, one associated with a mastery climate and indices of subjective well-being, and one primarily associated with a performance climate and indices of subjective ill-being. A focus on mastery [competency] is more likely to create a positive experience for the youths that enhances positive outcomes from the sport experience. A focus on performance is more likely to create a negative experience for the youths and enhances negative outcomes.

Essentially, this study showed that coaching athletes to improve themselves in technique, participation reliability, and performance preparation [as opposed to arbitrarily setting performance outcomes] produces positively motivated athletes. Disregard of the individuals and concentrating on the "team" and performance standards reduces athletes' motivations.

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