“Motivation will almost always beat mere talent”
Norman Ralph Augustine
Motivation is a key subject for athletes, coaches and sporting organisations. In sport psychology, we attempt to define and measure the ‘right motivation’. The self-determination theory is one such attempt to define the ‘right’ motivation, suggesting that more self-determined forms of motivation lead to positive outcomes in sport.
There is a wealth of articles devoted to the looking at the role coaches play in motivation. One focus is whether a coach is autonomy supportive or controlling (see Amorose, 2007). A coach is autonomy supportive when they offer opportunities for choice and decision making, provide rational and takes into consideration the athletes’ feelings and opinions (Mageau & Vallerand, 2003). In contrast, controlling coaches take more authoritarian approaches, using criticism and punishments to control athletes. Autonomy supportive coaching has been linked with positive outcomes such as, higher levels of self-determined motivation and objective performance (Gillet, Vallerand, Amoura, & Baldes, 2010). Whereas, controlling environments have been linked with no motivation, higher levels of dropout and lower levels of persistence (Pelletier, Fortier, Vallerand, & Brière, 2001). Despite the consistent link between autonomy supportive coaching and positive outcomes (Amorose, 2007), controlling coaching behaviour is still common throughout sport. To answer why controlling coaching is still prominent throughout sport, researchers have started to look at the wider context in which a coach operates.
Stebbings, Taylor and Spray (2011) found that a coach’s basic need satisfaction was linked with higher levels of well-being, which in turn led to more autonomy supportive behaviour. Stebbing et al’s (2011) findings suggest that promoting coach well-being through need satisfaction could promote more autonomy supportive behaviour. The organisation that the coach is apart of could play a big role in this. Below are a number of suggestions based on the works of Stebbings, Allen and Shaw. These recommendations could be used by organisations to promote basic need satisfaction in their coaches and in turn promote more coach autonomy supportive behaviour.
Recommendations to Organisations
To conclude, coaches play a significant role through their behaviour in creating a motivational climate. However researchers should continue to look at the wider context in which coaches operate. The above article has presented a number of recommendations that may promote autonomy supportive behaviours through basic need satisfaction. However, more research needs to be conducted before any clear cut recommendations can be made.