Negotiating identity and the development of incremental mindset in a female adolescent sport context

Alaina C. Zanin, Elissa A. Adame, Lucy C. Niess, Laura V. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This interpretivist study describes how female club soccer players (N = 28), ages 14–15 years, use implicit theories about ability and effort to manage their identities when their effort is sanctioned by peers. Data revealed that all participants had been labeled as a “try hard” (i.e. a person who is putting in too much effort) by their peers. This ascribed identity was used by participants’ peers to sanction their effort toward performances of excellence in athletics and academics. Secondary analysis indicated two strategies for negotiating this ascribed identity that reinforced an entity mindset (i.e. avoiding, concealing excellence), as well as three strategies that reinforced an incremental mindset (i.e. ignoring, rejecting, and embracing a “try hard” identity). Practical recommendations for communication strategies to bolster incremental mindset in adolescent female athletes are provided. Lay summary: The study explores how adolescent female athletes respond to a peer’s sanction on effort towards performances of excellence in athletics or academics. Given their sport experiences, study participants were more likely to believe that they can improve their performances through effort. As a result, participants responded in positive ways to peer sanctions. Recommendations for how to change talk about effort in sport contexts are provided.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Applied Sport Psychology
StatePublished - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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