Who Wants to Play? Sport Motivation Trajectories, Sport Participation, and the Development of Depressive Symptoms

Empirical Research

DOI: 10.1007/s10964-017-0649-9

Cite this article as:
Wang, MT., Chow, A. & Amemiya, J. J Youth Adolescence (2017). doi:10.1007/s10964-017-0649-9


Although sport involvement has the potential to enhance psychological wellbeing, studies have suggested that motivation to participate in sports activities declines across childhood and adolescence. This study incorporated expectancy-value theory to model children’s sport ability self-concept and subjective task values trajectories from first to twelfth grade. Additionally, it examined if sport motivation trajectories predicted individual and team-based sport participation and whether sport participation in turn reduced the development of depressive symptoms. Data were drawn from the Childhood and Beyond Study, a cross-sequential longitudinal study comprised of three cohorts (N = 1065; 49% male; 92% European American; Mages for youngest, middle, and oldest cohorts at the first wave were 6.42, 7.39, and 9.36 years, respectively). Results revealed four trajectories of students’ co-development of sport self-concept and task values: congruent stable high, incongruent stable high, middle school decreasing, and decreasing. Trajectory membership predicted individual and team-based sports participation, but only team-based sport participation predicted faster declines in depressive symptoms. The use of a person-centered approach enabled us to identify heterogeneity in trajectories of sport motivation that can aid in the development of nuanced strategies to increase students’ motivation to participate in sports.


Expectancy-value theory Sport motivation Person-centered approach Ability self-concept Subjective task values Depressive symptoms 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Indiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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