The relative roles of physical education teachers and parents in adolescents’ leisure-time physical activity motivation and behavior

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The purpose of this study was to explore the relative contributions of perceived parent and physical education teacher autonomy support, involvement, and modeling to adolescent leisure-time physical activity motivation and behavior within the framework of self-determination theory.


Cross-sectional survey.


161 Middle school students completed a paper survey which assessed the study variables.


Three sets of models were tested that examined the relationships of autonomy support, involvement, and modeling from mothers, fathers, and physical education teachers to adolescent leisure-time physical activity self-determined motivation and behavior. In the models, each social support variable had a significant, positive, direct relationship to motivation, and a significant, positive, indirect relationship to physical activity behavior mediated by motivation. Further, the relationships between social support from each significant other and motivation were of similar magnitude.


Mothers and fathers both play modest, yet significant roles in their adolescent’s leisure-time physical activity motivation. Additionally, physical education teachers, although not present in the leisure-time physical activity context, serve an equally important role in supporting adolescents’ leisure-time physical activity. Lastly, adolescent self-determined motivation for leisure-time physical activity is a strong determinant of self-reported leisure-time physical activity behavior.

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