Self-regulated learning in sport and academic domains for competitive youth athletes

  • Lindsay McCardle Department of Educational Psychology and Leadership Studies, University of Victoria
  • Laura Jonker Center for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen
  • Marije T Elferink-Gemser Royal Dutch Football Association
  • Chris Visscher Center for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen


Athletes have evidenced high levels of achievement in academics as well as in sport. Self-regulated learning (SRL) has been suggested as a link between these domains (Jonker et al., 2009). Self-regulated learning refers to learners' proactive control of their learning processes in order to reach self-set goals (Zimmerman, 1986). We examined (a) the relation between and (b) the differences between self-reported levels of SRL engagement in academics and sports. Dutch competitive youth athletes (N = 215) responded to each item of the Self-Regulated Learning – Self-Report Scale for academics and for sports on a 4- or 5-point scale. Moderate to high positive correlations (r = .47 for effort to r = .82 for reflecting) were found between subscale scores in sports and academics. These findings indicate participants who had high engagement of metacognitive processes and motivational variables in sport also had high engagement in academics. This suggests there is a possibility of transfer of SRL across domains. Latent mean differences revealed significantly higher engagement of SRL in sports than in academics for all six subscales (all ps < .01). Particular differences in the effort subscale highlight the importance of motivation for self-regulation. The research contributes to the discussion on domain-generality versus domain-specificity of SRL.

Acknowledgments: This study has been supported by a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship and Michael-Smith Foreign Study Supplement and a grant of the Dutch National Olympic Committee NOC*NSF.