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Identifying profiles of parental (de)motivating behaviors in youth sports: A multi-informant approach

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Abstract

Based on the perceptions of 331 youth athletes (Mage=14.33) and their most involved parent in sports (Mage = 45.96), this study examined whether different profiles of parental behavior (i.e., autonomy-, competence-, and relatedness-supportive and thwarting in the context of sports) could be identified, the extent to which these profiles align between the perceptions of athletes and parents, and how these profiles relate to youth athletes’ need-based experiences, (a)motivation, (dis)engagement, and anxiety regarding their sports participation. Independent cluster analyses on parent and athlete reports provided evidence for a similar cluster solution for both informants. Specifically, in the case of both informants, the cluster analyses identified four similar parental profiles: parents who are relatively (1) need-supportive, (2) need-thwarting, (3) predominantly controlling, and (4) distant when it comes to their child’s sports participation. In general, parents rated themselves as more motivating and less demotivating compared to athletes’ perceptions. Furthermore, parent reports had little to no predictive power with regard to the athletes’ sports experiences. However, athletes who perceived their parents as need-supportive showed the most adaptive outcomes, while the opposite was true for the need-thwarting profile. The other two profiles fell in between, with athletes in the predominantly controlling profile scoring high on both the adaptive and maladaptive outcomes, and athletes in the distant profile scoring low on the maladaptive outcomes but not necessarily high on the adaptive outcomes.

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Fig. 1

Data availability

All de-identified data and analysis code are available at Zenodo: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6460053.

Notes

  1. For a visual representation of the continuum, see Deci, E. L., and Ryan, R. M., (Eds.), 2002, Handbook of self-determination research, p.16.

  2. In a subset of 103 athletes, we asked to what extend the athletes were satisfied with the quantity of experienced parental involvement in their sports. Results showed that the need-supportive group was significantly more satisfied with the degree of parental involvement when compared to the distant and need-thwarting groups. Athletes with parents in the need-thwarting group reported that they perceived their parents as significantly too much involved compared to the need-supportive and predominantly controlling group. Because this measure of satisfaction was only included in a subsample, the full results are presented in an Appendix D.

  3. In an exploratory manner, we used χ2 analyses (for categorical variables; i.e., gender, type of sport, level of competition, and most involved parent) and MANOVAs (for continuous variables; i.e., age of athletes and parents, years of sports experience, years under their current coach) to examine whether there were differences between the profiles in terms of the demographics. Results are presented in an Appendix F.

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This work was supported by Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) (Grant number 3F023819).

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Correspondence to Sofie Morbée.

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Morbée, S., Waterschoot, J., De Muynck, GJ. et al. Identifying profiles of parental (de)motivating behaviors in youth sports: A multi-informant approach. Motiv Emot 47, 990–1006 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-023-10040-3

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