Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Variations in the Perceptions of Peer and Coach Motivational Climate

Academic journal article Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport

Variations in the Perceptions of Peer and Coach Motivational Climate

Article excerpt

This study examined (a) variations in the perceptions of peer- and coach-generated motivational climate within and between teams and (b) individual- and group-level factors that can account for these variations. Participants were 483 athletes between 12 and 16 years old. The results showed that perceptions of both peer- and coach-generated climate varied as a function of group-level variables, namely team success, coach's gender (except for peer ego-involving climate), and team type (only for coach ego-involving climate). Perceptions of peer- and coach-generated climate also varied as a function of individual-level variables, namely athletes' task and ego orientations, gender, and age (only for coach task-involving and peer ego-involving climate). Moreover, within-team variations in perceptions of peer- and coach-generated climate as a function of task and ego orientation levels were identified. Identifying and controlling the factors that influence perceptions of peer- and coach-generated climate may be important in strengthening task-involving motivational cues.

Key words: achievement goal theory, goal orientations, multilevel analysis, youth sport

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Both the number of youngsters who participate in organized sport programs and those dropping out of sport during adolescence highlight the importance of understanding and enhancing motivation in youth sport. Achievement goal theory (Ames, 1992; Nicholls, 1989) offers considerable insight for understanding and explaining achievement motivation in youth sport and, in particular, how young athletes define success and judge their competence. According to this theory, the interplay of individuals' achievement goals (task and ego goal orientation) and the motivational climate created by significant others can explain variations in achievement motivation. A task goal orientation is evident when perceptions of competence are self-referenced and based on personal improvement and exerting maximum effort. On the other hand, an ego goal orientation is evident when competence is normatively referenced and inferred by demonstrating superior ability (Nicholls, 1989). Many studies have demonstrated that high task orientation, compared to high ego orientation, relates to more positive cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes in youth sport (Duda & Ntoumanis, 2005).

Besides dispositional achievement goals, it is assumed that situational factors, such as the task- and an ego-involving motivational climate created by significant others, play a substantial role in activating and directing children's achievement behavior (Ames, 1992). Motivational climate refers to perceptions of situational cues and expectations that encourage goal orientation development and, at a given time, induce a certain goal-involvement state. A task-involving (or mastery) motivational climate encourages effort, emphasizes task mastery and personal skill improvement, and regards errors as part of learning (Ames, 1992). As a result, a task-involving climate is associated with positive motivational outcomes, including enjoyment, interest, and performance satisfaction (e.g., Balaguer, Duda, Atienza, & Mayo, 2002). On the other hand, an ego-involving (or performance) climate promotes interindividual comparison and emphasizes normative and comparative ability (Ames, 1992). Such emphasis can result in anxiety, dysfunctional attributions, reduced effort, and other maladaptive outcomes (e.g., Ames & Archer, 1988; Ntoumanis & Biddle, 1999; Treasure & Roberts, 1998).

To date, motivational climate was studied mainly in terms of adult motivational cues (e.g., coach, physical education [PE] teacher, parent). However, both adults and teammates shape the social context in which young athletes participate. Peer influence in transmitting task-involving versus ego-involving climate cues has only recently received attention in the sport psychology literature (Carr, Weigand, & Hussey, 1999; Carr, Weigand, & Jones, 2000; D'Arripe-Longueville, Pantaleon, & Smith, 2006; Vazou, Ntoumanis, & Duda, 2005). …

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