Interpersonal characteristics of sport as predictors of sport enjoyment in young female athletes


Adolescent girls are three times more likely to drop out of sports compared to boys, and report lower enjoyment and commitment. Given the importance of the interpersonal context (i.e., social relationships and interactions occurring within sport) to the sport experience among adolescent girls, this study aimed to test the association between interpersonal characteristics and sport enjoyment and commitment. Two-hundred and eleven adolescent female athletes [M (SD) age = 16.09 (1.4)] completed self-report surveys, and two hierarchical regressions, controlling for age, were conducted. The models for sport enjoyment and commitment were significant (both adjusted R2= .32, p< .001). Comparison tendencies (?= -.17), negative information on sport ability (?= -.2), support and encouragement (?= .26), and opportunities for observational learning (?= .23) were unique correlates of sport enjoyment. Negative attitudes (?= -.22) and positive information on sport ability (?= .27) were correlates of sport commitment. Based on these findings, the interpersonal context is important for adolescent girl athletes. To increase sport enjoyment and commitment, interpersonal sport sources (e.g., teammates, coaches, parents) should (1) encourage and support athletes in order to help reduce negative attitudes towards sports, (2) provide opportunities for observational learning, (3) reduce negative, and provide positive, information about abilities, and (4) discourage ability related comparisons. Interpersonal context variables tied to competence and social support appear to be important for adolescent girls.