Effect of staged practices and motivational climate on goal orientation and sportsmanship in community youth sport experiences

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Journal of Park and Recreation Administration






Sagamore Journals

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Significant acts of poor sportsmanship and aggression are becoming increasingly prevalent in youth sports. Youth who have negative experiences as a result of witnessing or being directly involved in such poor sportsmanship experiences are less likely to participate in future sport activities, thereby contributing to sedentary lifestyles and a number of health related problems. Goal orientation theory provides a basis for understanding why many of these unsporting acts may occur. “Task-oriented” participants focus on their intra-individual growth and development in sports and tend to be much less involved in aggression and poor sportsmanship. In contrast, “Egooriented” participants judge success in terms of displays of superiority over opponents, frequently giving rise to incidents of aggression and poor sportsmanship. This paper describes a study that evaluated the effects of specially designed (“staged”) practice sessions during a youth basketball program on development of task orientation among youth participants. Participants were registered for a youth basketball league that included 12 weekly practices and 8 games. Two teams took part in the league without any intervention on the part of researchers while two additional teams engaged in practices specifically designed to promote task-orientation in the young athletes. Measures of motivational climate, task- and ego-orientation, and sportsmanship were collected near the end of each practice. Results support the position that a task orientated motivational climate during practice sessions facilitates development of sportsmanship attitudes in youth basketball players. Professionals in the parks, recreation, and tourism field can use these results in a multitude of ways. Creating mastery motivational climates within youth sport programs through the use of simple techniques could help practitioners promote individual task-orientation as well as sportsmanship among players, particularly if done over an extended period of time. Promoting individual goal achievement, skill clinics, and increased practice time are all relatively inexpensive and easy additions to current programs that could be employed by administrators to heighten the focus on individual improvement. Practitioners should also be careful to minimize the exposure of participants to environments that promote an ego orientation by limiting elimination tournaments, win/loss records, and other aspects of programs that focus on comparative success.

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