Athletes’ motivational needs regarding burnout and engagement

Julio Román Martínez-Alvarado, Félix Guillén García, Deborah Feltz


This study analyzed the relationships between the basic motivational needs, burnout and engagement in soccer players with the aim of finding an explanation for why these athletes stay engaged or burnout. Participants were 227 male Spanish third division soccer players between the ages of 18 and 32 (M = 23.36; SD = 3.63), who completed questionnaires measuring perceived autonomy, perceived competence and the need for relatedness in order to examine basic motivational needs. Athletes also completed questionnaires to analyze burnout and engagement. Soccer players reported moderate satisfaction of psychological needs for competence, autonomy and relatedness, and low to moderate levels of athlete burnout symptoms of emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment and depersonalization as well as moderate to low burnout factors in the global assessment. In regards to engagement factors, moderate to high levels were reported for vigor, dedication and absorption. The results of the structural equation model showed positive and negative predictions of the basic psychological needs about engagement and burnout respectively. The need for autonomy is the variable that predicts best the symptoms of the athlete burnout and engagement in Spanish third division soccer players. Finally, the reduced personal fulfillment symptom was the psychological need that best predicted the burnout symptoms.


Soccer; Self-Determination Theory; Need satisfaction; Engagement; Burnout

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Copyright (c) 2016 Julio Román Martínez-Alvarado, Félix Guillén García, Deborah Feltz