Community recreation’s role in pre-adolescent girls’ participation and retention in youth sports

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Willette T. Middleton (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Thomas Martinek

Abstract: Community recreation facilities are an important resource in closing programming and participatory gender gaps often seen in youth sports. Therefore, the purpose of this research study is to examine the motivational climate of community recreation centers in the participation of pre-adolescent girls in youth sports. In doing so, six pre-adolescent girls participation rates in youth community recreation sports can be specified. Lastly, this research aims to use principles highlighted in Self Determination Theory (SDT) to demonstrate a link between participation of pre-adolescent girls’ in youth sports and motivational climate. SDT considers the motivational climate of facilities, participants’ sense of freedom of choice in activity preference, and participants’ skill proficiency as factors associated with continued sport/physical activity participation (Deci & Ryan, 2000). A multiple-case design was implemented to understand this phenomenon. Based on this study’s findings in terms of the six participants, the following conclusions can be made: a) Overall, it was found that the pre-adolescent girls experienced autonomy, relatedness and competence in their sports practice environment at a local community recreation center. b) Coaches had a direct influence on the autonomy within the sports practice environment experienced by the pre-adolescent girl participants. When coaches practice schedule and structure was rigid and uniformed, it lessened the perception of autonomy. When coaches minimized control over the practice schedule, and gave participants choices, participants’ perception of autonomy intensified. c) Participants’ connection within the sports practice environment was linked to receiving praise and positive feedback from teammates and coach. Participants acknowledged that physical displays of praise, high-fives, and handshakes reinforced their sense of belonging to the team. d) Most of the participants felt competent in their skill level in youth basketball. Participants acknowledged feeling challenged by teammates and coach to perform skills. The challenges that participants experienced in their practice environment, aided in their perception of competency. Participants viewed criticism from coaches and teammates as helpful and a way to strengthen the team and increase individual competencies. e) All participants acknowledged they would like to continue playing youth basketball after this current season at their local community recreation center. f) Most of the participants considered their family and local recreation staff as a source of encouragement to continue participating in youth basketball, either at a local community recreation center or at their local school. g) Some of the participants acknowledged having a desire to play other sports besides youth basketball. Participants posed questions about how to sign up for other sports at their community recreation center. Many of the participants felt limited in the sports that are offered at their community recreation center. h) The sports practice environment at each local community recreation center, provided participants with a setting to experience self-determination and nurtured motivation to continue participating in youth sports.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2019
Gender Sports, Girls in Sports, Recreation, Youth Development, Youth Sports
Sports for girls
Basketball for girls
Recreation centers
Youth development

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