Longitudinal associations between athletes' controlled motivation, ill-being, and perceptions of controlling coach behaviors

A Bayesian latent growth curve approach

Andreas Stenling, Andreas Ivarsson, Peter Hassmén, Magnus Lindwall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Although many scholars have argued that leadership is a dynamic process jointly produced by leaders and followers, leadership in sports is most often researched as a unidirectional process from coaches to athletes. Within self-determination theory (SDT), individual characteristics are suggested to influence how people perceive external events such as coaches' behaviors. In the present study, we examined this jointly produced leadership process by investigating longitudinal associations between athletes' controlled motivation, ill-being, and perceptions of coaches' controlling behaviors at the between- and within-person levels. The participants were 247 young elite skiers enrolled at Swedish sport high schools who responded to self-report questionnaires at three time points over the course of an athletic season. At the between-person level, increases in perceptions of coaches' controlling behaviors over the season positively predicted controlled motivation at the end of the season, and controlled motivation at the beginning of the season positively predicted ill-being at the end of the season. At the within-person level, athletes' controlled motivation positively predicted perceptions of coaches' controlling behaviors. The results at the between-person level support the unidirectional perspective and the tenets of SDT. The results at the within-person level suggest that individual characteristics such as motivation can influence how athletes perceive external events, which has been proposed theoretically but seldom examined empirically. Three plausible explanations for this reversed association are presented in the discussion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


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