Basic Needs Theory in Elite ROTC Physical Training

Molly Fischer, Louisiana State University, USA

Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions

Poster Number: 48

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Physical training (PT) is a mandatory component of ROTC programs and cadets are expected to train and perform at peak levels. Ranger Challenge (RC) is an advanced extension of PT that provides a select number of cadets with an opportunity to compete in physical challenges against other ROTC teams of elite cadets from across the country To date, there is limited understanding about RC training and competition. This research investigated how the three basic psychological needs of basic needs theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) were supported during RC training. Data collection included field observations of RC over a five-month period (n=20). A select number of cadets involved in RC (n=10) were interviewed about their perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness in RC. Cadre (n=5) also participated in an interview about their views of how basic needs played a role in developing elite level fitness during RC. Interview transcripts and field notes were analyzed using inductive analysis and constant comparison methods which culminated in higher-order themes that were deductively grounded in the basic needs theory. Two themes emerged from the qualitative data: “Competence Status through RC Participation” and “ Sources of Relatedness.” The cadets reported that being a member of the elite RC group enhanced their personal feelings of competence as well as increased competence status among other cadets and cadre that enhanced their chances for long-term military success. Cadets, cadre, and field notes highlighted the camaraderie and sense of cohesion to the smaller more advanced PT group that enhanced these cadets’ relatedness. Finding ways to improve cadets’ feelings of autonomy in RC training could help facilitate holistic basic needs support in RC.

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