A qualitative synthesis of research into social motivational influences across the athletic career span

R. J. Keegan, C. M. Spray, C. G. Harwood, D. E. Lavallee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
60 Downloads (Pure)


This study represents a qualitative synthesis of research examining the socio-environmental influences of coaches, parents and peers on athlete motivation, across the athletic career-span. Using a critical-realist perspective, meta-interpretation methodology was deployed to search and analyse the literature. On-going, iterative analysis generated new areas of enquiry and new search terms, until the emerging analysis reached the points of saturation. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were developed during this process to produce a clear statement of applicability for the study. In the final analysis, a developmental structure was specified to describe the athletic career trajectory, together with a horizontal structure capturing seven domains of the motivational atmosphere surrounding athletes (competition, training, evaluation, emotion, authority, social-support, and relatedness), and a vertical structure varying in terms of level-of-abstraction: The global/broad 'motivational atmosphere' containing contextual 'climates', built from immediate/situational 'motivational conditions'. A model of the overall 'motivational atmosphere' in sport, based on a meteorological analogy, is offered with a view to stimulating critical debate and new research directions that reflect the complexity of interpersonal motivation in sport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-567
Number of pages31
JournalQualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health
Issue number4
Early online date15 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Motivation
  • Climate
  • Coaching
  • Parent influences
  • Peer influences


Dive into the research topics of 'A qualitative synthesis of research into social motivational influences across the athletic career span'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this