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

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