The motivational atmosphere in youth sport: coach, parent, and peer influences on motivation in specializing sport participants

Richard Keegan*, Christopher Spray, Chris Harwood, David Lavallee

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Citations (Scopus)


This study qualitatively examined the motivationally relevant behaviors of key social agents in specializing sport participants. Seventy-nine participants (9-18 years old) from 26 sports participated in semi-structured focus groups investigating how coaches, parents, and peers may influence motivation. Using a critical-realist perspective, an inductive content analysis indicated that specializing athletes perceived a multitude of motivationally relevant social cues. Coaches' and parents' influences were related to their specific roles: instruction/assessment for coaches, support-and-facilitation for parents. Peers influenced motivation through competitive behaviors, collaborative behaviors, evaluative communications, and through their social relationships. The results help to delineate different roles for social agents in influencing athletes' motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-105
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


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