Examining the role of basic needs support in mediating the relationship between program quality and positive developmental outcomes in the youth sport context


Understanding how program quality and needs support influence youth's psychosocial development within sport programming is critical given the abundance of postulations, yet lack of empirical evidence, that recognize the potential influence program quality and needs support have on youth developmental outcomes. The overall purpose of this study was threefold. The first purpose was to examine the role that program quality and basic needs support played in psychosocial outcomes in youth sport. The second was to investigate if basic needs support mediated the relationship between program quality and psychosocial outcomes. The third purpose was to examine potential invariance of the structural model by gender and competition level. It was hypothesized that program quality and needs support would both contribute to psychosocial outcomes and that program quality would positively predict PYD outcomes and needs support would partially mediate this relationship. Lastly, it was hypothesized that the model would be invariant across gender. A total of 214 youth (Mage = 14.26) completed three questionnaires that assessed the study variables and were analyzed using structural equation modelling. Program quality and needs support significantly predicted psychosocial outcomes and needs support partially mediated the relationship between program quality and psychosocial outcomes. Invariance testing for gender and competition level was conducted on this model and results indicated that it was not invariant across these two variables. Findings provide initial evidence of the importance of delivering high quality programs in order to foster psychosocial development in youth. Applied implications and future research areas are discussed.

Acknowledgments: Support for the writing of this manuscript was given through a doctoral research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada