Environmental factors, basic need satisfaction and subjective well being among team sport athletes

Research output: Contribution to journalAbstract

Colleges, School and Institutes


Self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan, 1995) is a comprehensive framework relevant to predicting the degree to which participants are fully functioning in the athletic realm. According to Basic Needs Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000, 2002), a mini-theory of SDT, social environmental factors that foster people’s psychological human needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness (i.e., basic needs satisfaction) directly and positively predict indices of well-being. The opposite is assumed to be true in that the frustration of basic needs via the social environment is expected to result in diminished well-being. These assumptions are hypothesized to hold across settings as well as for age, gender, and cultural groups. The purpose of the present study was to test a theoretically-based model of motivational processes and indicators of well-being among a sample of adult participants from a variety of team sports. Male and female team sport players (N = 424, M age = 24.46 yrs; SD = 6.66) volunteered for the study. Structural equation modeling (EQS 6.1, Bentler, 2005) analysis was used to estimate a model of motivation (controlling for gender) which represented a good fit to the data according to the various indices of fit: Satorra-Bentler χ 2 (649) = 1044.97, p < 0.01, R-CFI = .94, N-NFI = .94, SRMSR = .06, RMSEA = .04 (.03– .04). The results from the SEM analysis showed players’ perceptions of autonomy support and social support as provided by the coach to load onto a higher order dimension labeled environmental support. Environmental support positively predicted the satisfaction of all three psychological needs. The three psychological needs directly and positively related to subjective vitality, with competence and autonomy the strongest predictors. Competence and relatedness negatively predicted players’ perceptions of emotional and physical exhaustion. The results highlight the importance of promoting fulfillment of the three psychological needs to enhance male and female athletes’ levels of healthy psychological functioning in team sport settings. Future research based on larger samples of men and women might consider multi-sample analyses to provide a more stringent test of the gender invariance hypothesis outlined in BNT.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S23
Number of pages1
JournalJournal of sport & exercise psychology
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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