What is it about?

At the core of self-determination theory, autonomy, competence, and relatedness are three basic psychological needs that must be satisfied in order to help individuals achieve intrinsic motivation and psychosocial well-being. The purposes of this mixed-studies review were to summarize (a) the social environments created by coaches, peers, and parents concurrently, (b) the relative influence of social agents in youth athletes’ psychological needs, and (c) the emerging research gaps for future research in and practical implications for youth sport. Literature was searched in six databases, resulting in 20 final studies with 2,851 participants.

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Why is it important?

Within the context of sport, coaches, peers, and parents are three most significant social agents influencing the environments and subsequent motivational processes. Because ‘‘athletes may experience the motivational ‘pull and push’ from varying social agents,’’ it is imperative to examine the concurrent motivational influence from these three social agents, who may create different types of supportive and thwarting environments that respectively satisfy and frustrate athletes’ autonomy, competence, and relatedness. In congruence with the literature, this review shows that both coaches and peers are important social agents in shaping social environments in youth sport, which in turn produce positive and negative influences on athletes’ psychological needs and motivational outcomes.


I've played multiple sports competitively since I was five and experienced various influences from coaches, peers, and parents in different sports. Therefore, in review of past studies, I could relate to different findings and reflect on my own sport participation journey that makes this writing meaningful.

Dr Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu
University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The roles of coaches, peers, and parents in athletes' basic psychological needs: A mixed-studies review, International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, July 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/1747954119858458.
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