Influence of Coaching Behavior on Motivation for Sport Participation: Interviews with Youth Athletes with Disabilities

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Artur Poczwardowski


Sled hockey, physical disability, autonomy-supportive, coaching, perceived motivation


Both autonomy-supportive and controlling coaching styles lead to identifiable coaching behaviors (e.g., feedback, communication styles, and reinforcement) that influence an athlete’s motivation (Amorose & Anderson-Butcher, 2015). Researchers have identified the importance of a positive coach-athlete relationship on athletes’ perceived motivation as explained by Basic Needs Theory (BNT), a sub-category of Self-Determination Theory (SDT). Athletes with autonomy-supportive coaches have higher perceptions of autonomy, relatedness, competence, and overall motivation than athletes with controlling coaches (Barick & Bucik, 2009). While research in this domain has been conducted on Paralympic and elite-level adult athletes, little is known about youth athletes with disabilities. Using SDT as a framework, the purpose of this study was to interview youth sled hockey athletes with disabilities and explore their perceptions that coaching behaviors had on their motivation to participate in sport. Through analysis of semistructured athlete interviews and observations of coaching behaviors, six higher order themes emerged: motivation to play/enjoyment of sport, relatedness to coaches, relatedness to teammates, competence, autonomy, and challenges faced. Analysis of coaching behavior observations frequencies showed that general encouragement, general technical instruction, organization, general communication, and positive reinforcement were the highest behaviors recorded. Results suggest the importance of an athlete’s relationship with his or her coach in feeling competent, motivation to play and ability to make decisions in their sport domain.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


42 pages.

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