Peer influence on young athletes’ need satisfaction, intrinsic motivation and persistence in sport: A 12-month prospective study

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Objective:Previous studies have shown that peer-created motivational climate greatly influences youth athletes’ motivation and other adaptive outcomes. The purpose of this study was to test a motivational model of persistence in sport that incorporates perceived peer motivational climate from achievement goal theory [Nicholls, J.G. (1989). The competitive ethos and democratic education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press] and basic psychological needs and intrinsic motivation from self-determination theory [Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. New York: Plenum].Design:This study used a prospective design assessing youth team-sport athletes’ persistence behaviour in sport over the course of one year.Method:A sample of 424 Estonian team-sport athletes (Mage = 13.19; SD = 1.56) completed the Peer Motivational Climate in Youth Sport Questionnaire, the Basic Psychological Needs in Exercise Scale, and the Sport Motivation Scale.Results:A structural equation model demonstrated that youth athletes’ task-involving peer motivational climate indirectly influenced their intrinsic motivation and persistence in sport via their perceived need satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Task-oriented peer motivational climate was the only significant distal predictor of intrinsic motivation and sport persistence among the athletes.Conclusion:The findings underline the importance of peer-created motivational climate on youth sport persistence.

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