The Role of Enjoyment, Motivational Climate, and Coach Training in Promoting the Positive Development of Young Athletes

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MacDonald, Dany J.
Sport Psychology , Youth Development
Structured sports are the most common activity in which youth participate. Research links sport participation to positive and negatives outcomes; however few studies have investigated the processes that affect positive and negative experiences. Considering that enjoyment, motivational climate, and coach behaviors are factors that are known to affect participation, it is of interest to determine if these factors can contribute to increased positive experiences for youth sport participants. Study 1 investigated the psychometric properties of the Youth Experience Survey 2.0 with a group of athletes. This instrument was originally designed to investigate experiences across a range of structured activities; however its psychometric properties had yet to be reported. Results of confirmatory factor analyses did not show strong psychometric support for the instrument. Follow-up exploratory analyses resulted in the instrument being modified and renamed the Youth Experience Survey for Sport. The revised scaled showed improved psychometric properties compared to the original instrument which makes it a preferred tool for investigation of personal development of youth sport participants. Study 2 explored the role of enjoyment and motivational climate on the personal development of team sport athletes. Stepwise multiple regression analyses were used to examine the relationships. Results demonstrated that positive experiences in sport were most strongly predicted by affiliation with peers, self-referenced competency, effort expenditure, and a task climate. Negative experiences were most strongly predicted by an ego climate and other-referenced competency. Study 3 examined differences on personal development and motivational climate for athletes in programs where coaches received positive youth development training and athletes in programs that did not provide training to coaches. Results showed that personal and social skills were higher for athletes of trained coaches. Cognitive skills and task climate did not reach significance but can be considered as marginal effects. Results from these studies provide researchers with an instrument to measure positive youth development in sport. In addition, results demonstrate that enjoyment, motivational climate, and coach training are important factors in promoting personal development. Youth sport program administrators that wish to incorporate positive development in their programs should consider these findings.
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