Motives, Motivation, and Motivational Climate of Young Norwegian Swimmers, and their Parents’ Belief

Ingeborg Ljødal1,2, Bjørn Harald Olstad2
& Anne Marte Pensgaard
1 Department of Sports and Social Sciences, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo;
2 Department of Physical Performance, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo

Motivation is important for enjoyment, skill development, and persistence in swimming. The quality and direction of motivation is influenced by a swimmer’s perceived motivational climate, which is created by coaches and parents. The theoretical framework combines self-determination theory and achievement goal theory, to analyse the motives and motivation of swimmers and the influence of social climate on their motivation. Parents greatly impact young children’s participation motives and motivation, but few studies ask parents about their beliefs about their child’s motives and motivation. Online questionnaires were distributed to 11-13-year-old swimmers and their parents. The children responded to five questionnaires measuring sport participation motives, self-determined motivation, goal orientation, coach-initiated motivational climate, and parent-initiated motivational climate. Parents responded to the first two indicating their belief in their child’s motives and self-determined motivation. Results showed that swimmers are predominantly intrinsically motivated, task oriented, and perceive a mastery climate from coaches and parents. Parent’s belief of their child’s motives and self-determined motivation matched the swimmers’ self-reported motives and self-determined motivation. Coaches are shown to impact self-determined motivation and goal orientations to a greater extent than parents. In conclusion, coaches and parents should aim to maintain their current focus on mastery and enjoyment. This can ensure longer participation in and greater enjoyment of the sport, which would lead to further development and improved performance.

Click here to read this peer reviewed article in Scandinavian Sport Studies Forum, Vol. 14, 2023

INGEBORG LJØDAL is a PhD Candidate at the University of Rouen and Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, focusing on talent identification and development of swimmers. Her PhD project is interdisciplinary, including biomechanical, physiological, psychological, and training variables. She has a background from psychology, sport psychology, and coaching in artistic swimming. Alongside her PhD she teaches swimming, lifesaving, and CRP at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences.

BJØRN HARALD OLSTAD is an Associate Professor at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences since 2016, after completing his PhD in “Muscular activation and kinematics in contemporary breaststroke swimming”. His scientific interests are focused on implementing new technologies and methods in the applied science of swimming research together with a holistic approach for optimizing short- and long-term performance. In addition, he is working within the domain of learning to swim and drowning prevention.

ANNE MARTE PENSGAARD is a distinguished sport psychology Professor, affiliated with the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences and the Norwegian Olympic Centre (Olympiatoppen, OLT). Her research focuses on motivational factors related to coping with stress in extreme situations. She is also interested in the importance of the coach-athlete relationship for performance, as well as mental health in elite sport among athletes and coaches. This is closely linked to her daily contact and counselling of elite-level athletes.


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