Autonomy-supportive coaching and self-determined motivation in high school and college athletes: A test of self-determination theory

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Objectives:Using self-determination theory as a framework, this study tested whether perceived competence, autonomy, and relatedness mediated the relationship between perceived autonomy-supportive coaching and athletes' motivational orientation.Design:A cross-sectional, survey study conducted during a regularly schedule training session.Method:Male and female high school and college athletes (N=581) completed questionnaires assessing the key variables of interest.Results:Structural equation modeling revealed support for a mediational effect. Specifically, results indicated that the degree to which athletes perceived their coaches to be autonomy-supportive significantly predicted the athletes' perceived competence, autonomy, and sense of relatedness, which, in turn, each predicted their motivational orientation. This pattern of relationships was invariant across gender and level of competition.Conclusions:Results support self-determination theory and highlight the motivational benefits of autonomy-supportive coaching behaviors.

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