Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Sport Commitment among Competitive Female Gymnasts: A Developmental Perspective

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Sport Commitment among Competitive Female Gymnasts: A Developmental Perspective

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study was to examine age and competitive level differences in the relationship between determinants and level of sport commitment. Gymnasts (N = 304) comprised three age groups (8-11, 11-14.5, and 14.5-18 years) and two competitive levels (Levels 5-6 and 8-10). Multiple regression analyses revealed: (a) perceived costs and social constraints from parents and best friends were the strongest predictors of commitment for the youngest gymnasts, (b) perceived costs, personal investments, and parent social constraints predicted commitment for 11-14.5-year-old gymnasts, and (c) perceived competence and costs predicted commitment for the oldest gymnasts. Competitive level differences also emerged; for Level 5-6 gymnasts, personal investments, perceived costs, coach social support, and social constraints by coach, best friend, and teammates were predictors of commitment. Personal investments and teammate social constraints were significant predictors for Level 8-10 gymnasts. Developmental factors and additional determinants are important to consider in further studies of the sport commitment model

Key words: age differences, motivation, perceived competence, social influence

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Enjoyment is a common reason for participating in sport and physical activity (M. R. Weiss & Ferrer-Caja, 2002). Sources of enjoyment include demonstrating competence, feelings associated with movement and action, winning awards and receiving recognition, and building sport friendships and team affiliations (Scanlan, Carpenter, Lobel, & Simons, 1993; Scanlan, Stein, & Ravizza, 1989). Despite numerous sources of enjoyment available within the physical domain, many children and adolescents discontinue their participation due to reduced enjoyment. To better understand why some youths continue sport participation whereas others do not, Scanlan and colleagues developed a conceptual framework that places enjoyment as a key construct driving participation motivation (Scanlan, Carpenter, Schmidt, Simons, & Keeler, 1993; Scanlan, Simons, Carpenter, Schmidt, & Keeler, 1993).

The sport commitment model was developed to explain factors related to continued participation in sport or physical activity. Sport commitment is defined as the "desire and resolve to continue participation" (Scanlan, Carpenter, Schmidt, et al., 1993, p. 6), representing a psychological construct, not the actual behavior of staying in or leaving an activity. Ultimately, psychological commitment should predict behavioral commitment, such as effort and persistence (M. R. Weiss & Ferrer-Caja, 2002; W. M. Weiss & Weiss, 2003). Six constructs are theorized to predict sport commitment: enjoyment, personal investments, attractive alternatives, involvement opportunities, social constraints, and social support (Carpenter, Scanlan, Simons, & Lobel, 1993; Scanlan, Carpenter, Schmidt, et al., 1993; Scanlan, Russell, Beals, & Scanlan, 2003; Scanlan, Simons, et al., 1993). Enjoyment refers to feelings of pleasure, liking, and fun associated with participation and should increase sport commitment. Attractive alternatives are activities that compete with one's current activity and negatively influence commitment. Personal investments are resources such as time and effort put into an activity that would be lost if one discontinued participation; investments are positively related to commitment. Involvement opportunities are potential benefits of continued participation, such as scholarships, traveling, and meeting new people. Higher involvement opportunities relate to higher commitment. Social constraints refer to perceived obligation to important others to continue participation, such as parents, coaches, and teammates. Higher social constraints should positively influence commitment. Based on studies that have examined the relationship between social support and sport commitment (Carpenter, 1992; Carpenter & Coleman, 1998; Scanlan et al. …

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