Intentions to drop-out in youth football: A test of the basic needs theory among European youth

Eleanor Quested, University of Birmingham, United Kingdom

Theme: Motivation and self-perceptions

Program ID: LEC-14A

Presentation: October 5, 2013 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room: Elmwood


Research pulling from contemporary theories of motivation highlights that it is not youth sport participation per se that automatically promotes sustained physical activity participation into adulthood. Rather, it is the quality of the social interactions with coaches, and athletes’ ensuing psychological responses that are critical determinants of whether sport engagement is sustained. Despite this premise, few studies have used the self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000) framework to explain intentions to drop out of sport among youth from different European countries. Grounded in the basic needs mini-theory of the self-determination framework, this study tested the invariance of a model predicting youth sport dropout across five European countries. 7769 grassroots players (6641 males, 1020 females, (Mage = 11.56, SD = 1.40) from youth football teams in five countries (France, Greece, Norway, Spain, UK) completed a multi-section questionnaire tapping perceptions of coach-provided autonomy support, basic psychological need satisfaction (i.e., autonomy, competence and relatedness), football enjoyment and intentions to drop out of football next season. Data were analysed using structural equation modelling, with standard errors and fit indices adjusted to account for team membership. The hypothesized model showed acceptable fit to the data (?2 = 6366.116; p < .001; CFI = .935; TLI = .928; RSMEA = .049.) and provided evidence of configural, factor loading and structural path invariance across the five countries. This study supported our hypothesis with regard to the applicability of the basic needs theory model as a framework to understand determinants of continued participation in sport among European youth. The findings of this study have practical significance in the landscape of youth sport as the results highlight a potential avenue for intervention that could impact children’s enjoyment of, and intentions to continue, playing football; namely, coach education interventions that specifically target need supportive coaching.

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