Motivational beliefs and subjective effort in adolescent athletes

Jiri Mudrak */**, Pavel Slepicka *, Irena Slepickova *, Katerina Zabrodska ** and Michaela Knoblochova *

(*) Faculty of Physical Education and Sport, Charles University, Praha, Czech Republic
(**) Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Nám. J. Palacha 2, Praha, Czech Republic, 116 38


Mudrak, J., Slepicka, P., Slepickova, I., Zabrodska, K., Knoblochova, M. (2021). Motivational beliefs and subjective effort in adolescent athletes. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 52(4), 335-354. doi:10.7352/IJSP.2021.52.335


The study explored motivational antecedents of subjective effort in adolescent competitive athletes using an integrative approach inspired by the expectancy-value model of achievement motivation as the theoretical framework. In total, 1019 athletes (mean age of 16.5 years) who engaged in various sports from all regions of the Czech Republic participated in the large-scale questionnaire study. We hypothesized two groups of motivational variables as predictors of subjective effort: 1) sport motivation and achievement goal orientations, representing athletes’ valuation of sport participation, and 2) self-efficacy and mindset, representing the athletes’ expectancies of success. We analyzed the questionnaire data within a multiple regression model. The model was significant (F(19, 990) = 19.788, p <.001) and explained 27.5 % of the variance in subjective effort the participants reported exerting in their practice. In the model, subjective effort was significantly predicted by integrated regulation (β=.156), amotivation (β=-.143), task orientation (β=.117), and self-efficacy, both directly (β=.243) and in interaction with inborn talent beliefs (β=-.129). These results suggest that the subjective effort of adolescent athletes may be associated with sport-related identity rather than experiences of enjoyment or external rewards and with a focus on skills development rather than on competition. The results provide further evidence for a complex approach to athletes’ motivation, suggesting that motivational variables related to task value as well as expectancies of success should be taken into account to create motivational climates supporting effortful practice and subsequent athletic outcomes of adolescent athletes.

Keywords: Achievement motivation, Achievement goal orientation, Adolescent athletes, Deliberate practice, Social cognition, Self-determination, Subjective effort