Self-handicapping in competitive sport: influence of the motivational climate, self-efficacy, and perceived importance

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Objectives:To examine the influence of perceptions of the motivational climate, self-efficacy, and perceived importance on athletes' claimed situational self-handicaps in a competitive sport setting. Perceptions of a task involving climate and self-efficacy were expected to be negatively related and perceptions of an ego-involving climate to be positively related to situational self-handicapping.Design:Given the centrality of perceived ability in the self-handicapping literature, basic tenets derived from achievement goal theory provided the rationale for the present cross-sectional field study.Methods:Male 70 and 70 female elite collegiate golfers completed a questionnaire prior to participating in a prestigious national golf tournament (M age=20.61; SD=1.52) assessing claimed situational self-handicaps in the week prior to the tournament, perceptions of the team motivational climate, perceived event importance, and self-efficacy.Results:Preliminary analyses revealed no significant gender differences in regard to the perceived importance of the event or situational claimed self-handicaps. Participants who perceived the event to be of low personal importance reported significantly more claimed self-handicaps during the week prior to the tournament than high importance individuals. A hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed perceptions of a task-involving motivational climate, self-efficacy, and perceived event importance to be negatively related to claimed self-handicaps.Conclusions:The findings of the present study suggest that in addition to enhancing self-efficacy, coaches should increase the salience of task-involving cues in the athletic context to attenuate the situational claimed self-handicaps of elite collegiate athletes.

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