Youth Participation in Organized and Informal Sports Activities Across Childhood and Adolescence: Exploring the Relationships of Motivational Beliefs, Developmental Stage and Gender

Nickki Pearce Dawes, Andrea Vest, Sandra Simpkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Involvement in physically active pursuits, such as sports, contributes to achieving and maintaining good emotional and physical health. The central goal of this article was to examine the longitudinal relationships between participation (i.e., time spent in the activities) in organized and informal sports contexts and motivational beliefs, and factors that might impact these relationships, such as developmental stage and gender. The data for the current study were drawn from the childhood and beyond longitudinal study, which utilized a cohort sequential design with data collected on three cohorts across four waves. The current study sample included 986 European American youth (51 % female), who t were mostly from working- and middle-class families. Self-report questionnaires were used to collect data from the youth about their participation in sports and their motivational beliefs (i.e., value and perceptions of competence) about this activity. Structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationships between participation and motivational beliefs across childhood and adolescence. The results provide some support for a model of reciprocal relationships between participation and motivational beliefs in organized and informal sports activities. These relationships between participation and motivational beliefs did not vary significantly based on developmental stage or by gender. Overall, the findings suggest that participation in organized and informal sports contexts may be fostered by supporting the development of positive motivational beliefs about the activities across developmental periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1374-1388
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2014



  • Developmental perspective
  • Motivational beliefs
  • Sports participation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine(all)

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