The role of young athletes self determination to sport commitment

Por: H. Tsorbatzoudis, K. Alexandris, P. Tsoboli e P. Zahariadis.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Results from several studies indicate that motivation could influence human behavior in several sport and exercise settings [4]. The hierarchical motivation model, based on Cognitive Evaluation and Self-Determination Theory [4], was recently proposed for the thorough study of motivational mechanisms in sport and exercise environment. According to the model self-determination is the function of social factors. Thus, motivation has certain behavioral, cognitive and affective consequences [4]. A behavioral consequence of motivation is individuals’ commitment to the task at hand. In youth athletics sport commitment was viewed under the sport commitment model, which was designed to assess the psychological attachment children have to sport involvement. Scanlan and her associates [3] indicated that sport commitment consists of: sport enjoyment, personal investment, social constraints, involvement alternatives and involvement opportunities. Using the model researchers related sport commitment to self-determination in recreational activities [1]. Higher levels of self determination supported higher sport commitment whereas low levels of commitment are associated to low levels of self-determination. These research findings are in line with field and laboratory studies which agree that sport commitment increases proportionately to individual’s self-determination [2]. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship of motivation at the contextual level to sport commitment in young athletes. We hypothesized that intrinsic motivation would have a positive relationship to sport commitment. In contrast, extrinsic motivation and amotivation would have negative relationship to commitment. Additionally, we assumed that intrinsic motivation would have a positive predictive relationship to sport commitment, whereas extrinsic motivation and amotivation would have a negative one.


Participants and Procedure: 217 young athletes volunteered to participate in this study (M=13.45, SD=1.07). The athletes were randomly selected from five team sports (basketball, volleyball, water polo, handball and soccer).


  1. Sport Motivation Scale (SMS) [2]. The scale describes intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and amotivation,
  2. Sport Commitment Questionnaire: [1][3]. The questionnaire describes the five dimensions of sport commitment.


Correlations among variables: Results of the Pearson correlation analysis showed medium positive relationships between intrinsic motivation subscales and sport commitment (r>.320, p<.01). Extrinsic motivation had non-significant relationship to the same variable. Finally, amotivation had medium negative correlation to commitment (r=-.450, p<.01). Hierarchical Regression analysis: Hierarchical regression analysis showed (R2=.334, F(7,289)=20.22, p<.001) that first predictor of commitment was intrinsic motivation (R2change=.182 Fchange(3,286)=48,79, p<.001), second amotivation (R2change=.115, Fchange(1,282)=48.79, p<.001) and third extrinsic motivation (R2change=.037, Fchange(3,283)=4.43 p=.005). Close examination on the significance of t values for each variable showed that only intrinsic motivation to know along with amotivation (β=.202, t=2.62, p=009, sr=.127 and β=-.371, t=-6.98, p<.001, sr=-.34 respectively) had a prediction effect on motivation.

Discussion / Conclusions

The results of the correlation analysis showed that intrinsic motivation had positive relationship to young athletes’ commitment. Extrinsic motivation was negatively related to the same variable. These findings are in line with preview studies that confirmed the positive relationship to commitment [3]. These findings also enhance the notion that although intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are the reason to sport participation only intrinsic motivation could sustain sport commitment in sport and exercise settings. Hierarchical regression results showed that intrinsic motivation toward knowledge was a predictor of sport commitment. Vallerand [4] postulate that intrinsic motivation is closely related to commitment. Surprisingly, the best predictor of sport commitment was amotivation. The lack of interest for the task show that amotivation impoverish individual’s commitment. In conclusion young athletes’ sport commitment is affected by intrinsic motivation and amotivation. Alexandris et al., [1] postulate that commitment is an internal cognitive process. The luck of commitment with the presence of amotivation, may lead to sport dropout especially for young athletes. In future, research should focus on ways that team motivational climate could be modified in order to change amotivation behavior to positive internal motivation.


  1. Alexandris. K., Zahariadis. P., Tsorbatzoudis. C. Grouios, G. (2002). Journal of Sport Behavior. 25. 217-230.
  2. Pelletier, L.G., et al., (1995). Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 17, 35-53.
  3. Scanlan, T. et al., (1993). Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 15, 16-38.
  4. Vallerand. J.L. & Rousseau, F.L. (2001). In Singer, R.N., Hausenblas, H.A., & Janelle C.M. (Ed.), Handbook of Sport Psychology, 2nd edition, NY: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 389-417.




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