Longitudinal Associations Between Athletes’ Psychological Needs and Burnout Across a Competitive Season: A Latent Difference Score 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 of athletes' psychological needs satisfactions and psychological needs frustrations with burnout through a two-wave longitudinal study. Participants included 184 athletes (Mage = 24.04 years, SD = 5.56, 67.9% male) representing a range of competitive levels. A latent difference score 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 = 0.13, p < .05), whereas higher relatedness satisfaction at baseline reduced burnout levels later in the season (β = -0.22, p < .001). To conclude, continuous tracking of athlete burnout levels and fostering of needs-supportive climates that minimize autonomy-controlling behaviors are recommended for the burnout prevention in athletes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Early online date5 May 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 5 May 2022

Keywords

  • self-determination theory
  • needs satisfaction
  • needs frustration
  • well-being
  • mental-health

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