Teammate Influence on Collegiate Swimmers’ Basic Psychological Need Satisfaction
A Qualitative Perspective
Keywords:self-determination theory, NCAA, teammate interactions, elite sport, qualitative research
AbstractTo enhance student-athletes’ psychological welfare and motivation it is essential to foster positive relationships and interactions with those in their surroundings, especially when considering that others’ actions toward them can have a significant impact on their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors (Vallerand & Losier, 1999). Deci and Ryan’s (2000) self-determination theory offers an ideal lens to understand social influences as it suggests that various social factors have a direct influence on individuals’ basic psychological need satisfaction (Vallerand, 1997), which in turn affects the development of self-determined forms of motivation and well-being (Deci & Ryan, 2000). The purpose of the current research was to explore how teammates act as social factors for National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I swimmers’ basic psychological need fulfillment. Eight NCAA Division I swimmers participated in semistructured interviews. Consensual qualitative research (Hill, Thompson, & Williams, 1997) procedures revealed three domains: (a) foundational components of a need-fulfilling team environment, (b) elements in practice that nurtured athletes’ perceptions of competence, and (c) teammate interactions outside the pool which impacted athletes’ perceptions of relatedness. Results showed that positive teammate interactions allowed athletes to create a team environment that fostered basic psychological need satisfaction and helped members to internalize their team’s values, goals, and behaviors.
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