Cohesion, psychological needs, and intrinsic motivation in youth team sport contexts

Jean-Philippe Heuzé *, Mark Eys **, Martin Dubuc ***, Grégoire Bosselut **** and Roger Couture *****

(*) Université Grenoble Alpes, Saint-Martin d’Hères, France
(**) Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Canada
(***) Cambrian College, Sudbury, Canada
(****) Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
(*****) Laurentian University, Sudbury, Canada


Heuzé, J., Eys, M., Dubuc, M., Bosselut, G., Couture, R. (2018). Cohesion, psychological needs, and intrinsic motivation in youth team sport contexts. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 49(1), 55-73. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2018.49.055


Within the framework of Self-Determination Theory (SDT), the purpose of the present study was to examine adolescents’ perceptions of cohesion in relation to psychological need satisfaction and intrinsic motivation through a cross-sectional design. The study included 264 Canadian youth participants (Mage = 15.50) from eight different team sports who responded to questionnaires designed to assess their perceptions of task and social cohesion; psychological need satisfaction for autonomy, competence, and relatedness; and intrinsic motivation. After examining the measurement models of the different variables, path analysis revealed that task cohesion was positively related to perceptions of relatedness need satisfaction (β = .17, p < .05). Moreover, greater perceived social cohesion was related to higher levels of autonomy (β = .32, p < .001) and relatedness (β = .39, p < .001) needs satisfaction, but lower levels of competence need satisfaction (β = -.20, p < .001). Further, perceptions of autonomy (β = .27, p < .001) and relatedness (β = .24, p < .01) were positively associated with intrinsic motivation. This work underlines the relevance of cohesion as a variable to be considered within the broad SDT framework. It also emphasizes the importance of social connections for youth athletes with respect to motivational processes.

Keywords: Adolescence, Group dynamics, Self-determination