We need a game plan: Relations among coaching style, need satisfaction, motivation, and disordered eating

Parisa R. Kaliush1 and Suman Ambwani2

1 Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, USA
2 Department of Psychology, Dickinson College, Carlisle, USA

We implemented experimental vignette methodology to investigate causal effects of psychological need satisfaction on self-determined motivation and disordered eating. Participants were varsity female collegiate athletes (N = 113) at an NCAA Division III college in the Mid-Atlantic United States. Participants completed questionnaires assessing self-determined motivation and intended dietary restriction post-exposure to vignettes depicting psychological need fulfillment or thwarting scenarios. Results of a between-subjects ANCOVA indicated an interaction between direction of need satisfaction and type of psychological need on self-determined motivation: those who were exposed to low autonomy and competence scenarios reported significantly lower self-determined motivation. Results indicated no significant main or interaction effects on intended dietary restriction. These findings underscore the roles coaches play in shaping female collegiate athletes’ psychological need satisfaction and motivation to participate in sport. Additional research is needed to connect these findings to specific indicators of well-being, such as disordered eating, among collegiate athletes.

KEYWORDS: self-determination theory, coaching styles, female athletes, disordered eating, psychological need satisfaction