Young Finnish Athletes' Participation in Organized Team Sports

The purpose of the present dissertation is to extend our understanding of young athletes’ sport participation process from a psychosocial perspective by examining the reasons why young athletes persist in or withdraw from sport, and how the coach­­­­–athlete relationship and motivational aspects influence their participation behaviour in organized sport.­­­­


The problem setting was based upon achievement goal theory, and self-determination theory. The analyses of this study were based on two data sets, including 2,014 and 2,243 young Finnish football, ice hockey and basketball players, aged 15 to 16 years. Participants responded to a multi–sectional questionnaire incorporating the Finnish versions of the Questionnaire of Reasons for Attrition, the Coach–Athlete Relationship Questionnaire, the Perceived Motivational Climate in Sport Questionnaire, the Sport Motivation Scale, the Perceived Physical Competence Scale, Enjoyment Scale, and the Perception of Success Questionnaire. Confirmatory factor analyses and Cronbach’s alpha coefficients determined all scales in the survey to be psychometrically sound.


With respect to withdrawal from organized sport, the results indicated that “having other things to do” and a decline in excitement were the most important reasons for withdrawal. Withdrawn players also reported lower scores than persistent players did in the coach–athlete relationship, task-climate, intrinsic motivation, task- and ego orientation, and perceived competence. Young athletes’ profiles with high coach–athlete relationship and task climate, and moderate ego climate, as well profiles with high autonomous and controlled motivation, appeared to be the most beneficial from the perspective of sport persistence. The model of this dissertation also highlighted how young athletes’ goal orientation and perceived competence predict different degrees of relative autonomous motivation and persistence in organized youth sport.


The findings reinforce the necessity for sports practitioners to support and encourage young athletes’ achievement goals, foster coach–athlete relationships, autonomous and controlled motivation as well as to enhance young athletes’ perception of competence in order to keep them motivated to sustain participation in organized sport settings.


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City (for University):
University of Jyväskylä