Sport commitment : social support, psychological climate, and developmental considerations

Weiss, Windee M., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Whaley, Diane, ED-EDLF Department, University of Virginia
Block, Martin, ED-KINE Department, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert C., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Weiss, Maureen R., Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

According to the sport commitment model (Scanlan, Carpenter, Schmidt, Simons, & Keeler, 1993), enjoyment, personal investments, involvement opportunities, attractive alternatives, and social constraints should predict an individual's psychological commitment, or desire and resolve to continue participation in an activity. Research has shown general support for the sport commitment model among youth and adolescent athletes. The present study sought to extend the knowledge base on sport commitment in two ways: (a) to examine the relative influence of the original determinants and additional determinants (social support, costs, motivational climate, perceived competence) on psychological and behavioral commitment, and (b) to examine developmental differences in original and additional sport commitment constructs. Competitive female gymnasts (N = 304), ranging in age from 8 to 18 years and competing at Levels 5 to 10, completed questionnaires before or after a practice session. Head coaches also completed a measure to tap each gymnast's training behaviors in the gym. For the first study purpose, results revealed that the best model was one in which enjoyment mediated the relationship between the other determinants and psychological and behavioral commitment. Involvement opportunities, attractive alternatives, and costs significantly predicted enjoyment, which in tum influenced psychological and behavioral commitment. Other predictor variables may have been suppressed due to high correlations among attractive alternatives, involvement opportunities, enjoyment, and psychological commitment. For the second study purpose, the youngest gymnasts (ages 8-0 to 10-11 years) reported higher enjoyment, social constraints, perceived competence, and parent and coach social support compared to older gymnasts. Early adolescent (ages 11-0 to 14-5 years) and middle/older adolescent (ages 14-6 to 18-0 years) gymnasts reported higher teammate and best friend intimacy, performance climate, attractive alternatives, and costs than did the youngest gymnasts. Competitive level differences also emerged, with Level 5-6 and Level 8-10 gymnasts differing in similar ways as the younger and older gymnasts. These results suggest that (a) additional determinants, consequences, and models of sport commitment should be considered, and (b) age and competitive level are important factors to include from both theoretical and applied perspectives of the sport commitment model.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
gymnastics, youth athletes, adolescent athletes, athletic training, enjoyment, psychological commitment
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