Longitudinal Associations Between Athletes’ Psychological Needs and Burnout Across a Competitive Season: a Latent Difference Scores Analysis

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Abstract

Participation in sport can paradoxically be a source of psychological needs-satisfaction and psychological needs-frustration. Self-Determination Theory was applied to explain temporal relationships between athletes’ psychological needs-satisfactions and psychological needs-frustrations and burnout, through a two-wave longitudinal study. Participants included 184 athletes (M age = 24.04 years, SD = 5.56, 67.9% male) representing a range of competitive levels. A latent difference scores model specifying longitudinal relationships between burnout and needs-satisfactions and needs-frustrations was tested. Significant within-variable changes were observed for all needs-satisfaction and needs-frustration variables. Longitudinal associations were found in Models 3 (autonomy-frustration) and 6 (relatedness-satisfaction). Higher burnout at baseline predicted an increase in autonomy-frustration (β = .13, p < .05), whereas higher relatedness-satisfaction at baseline reduced burnout levels later in the season (β = -.22, p < .001). To conclude, continuous tracking of athlete burnout levels and fostering of needs-supportive climates that minimise autonomy-controlling behaviors is recommended for the burnout prevention in athletes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 9 Mar 2022

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