Authors: Joar Svensson1 and Scott Barnicle2
1Department of Sport Science, Halmstad University, Halmstad, Sweden
2College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Scott Barnicle, PhD, CMPC
WVU – College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences
375 Birch Street
Morgantown, WV, 26505
Joar Svensson is a graduate student in sport and exercise psychology at Halmstad University in Halmstad, Sweden. His primary research interest is in self-determination theory and is continuing to expand his research interests as part of his graduate work.
Scott Barnicle, PhD, CMPC, is the program coordinator and teaching assistant professor in the Sport and Exercise Psychology program at West Virginia University. His research interests are in the areas of sport enjoyment, applied mental skills training, and teaching methods in the field of sport and exercise psychology.
Controlled but Autonomous: An examination of autonomy deficit in the pursuit of practice in sport
Self-determination theory posits three basic psychological needs, competence, relatedness, and autonomy (6). Autonomy is defined as being the perceived origin or source of one’s own behavior (2). The limits of this perception have not yet been tested. The current study set out to investigate whether athletes could be controlled while still feeling autonomous. A questionnaire about level of control and perception of autonomy was created. Participants were recruited (N=39) and answered the questionnaire. Results indicated that level of control over the sport and autonomy was significantly negatively correlated whereas control over practice and autonomy had no significant correlation. Athletes in controlling sports could therefore need extra autonomy support to satisfy their needs. As no significant correlations were found between control over practice and autonomy, practice sessions could possibly be very controlling without any major ramifications. The factors influencing this relationship need further investigation in differing sports and populations.(more…)