4 Creating a mastery motivational climate
A burnout prevention strategy attempting to create a mastery motivational climate is one that seeks to change the way in which athletes evaluate their competence in their chosen sport.
A mastery motivational climate (either coach-created or parent-created) emphasises and rewards the importance of tasks involving personal development and improvement. This is in contrast to a performance (or ego-involving) motivational climate which emphasises and rewards relative standing in the group and sporting outcomes (results). As you saw earlier in, ego-involving climates can lead to higher levels of stress and feelings of low autonomy. Thus, building mastery motivational climates may be an effective long-term strategy for preventing burnout. This type of intervention draws on Achievement goal theory (e.g. Ames, 1992) in which three factors interact to determine motivation:
- goals (e.g. outcome or task goals)
- perceived ability and
- behaviour (e.g. persistence, task choice).
Research using this theory revealed the impact of task-involving or ego-involving climates (e.g. Ntoumanis and Biddle, 1999).
Coaches and parents strongly influence the expectations of younger athletes and often need appropriate education so they can appreciate how their actions impact on athlete welfare. Examine Box 1 in which a research summary of the impact of motivational climate is presented – can you identify any link between perfectionism and motivational climate?
Box 1 Profiles of perfectionism, parental climate and burnout among junior athletes
In a study by Gustafsson et al. (2016), 237 junior athletes from Sweden (aged 16–19), from a variety of sports, completed measures of athlete burnout, perfectionism and parent-initiated motivational climate.
Three levels of perfectionism were identified:
- non-perfectionistic athletes
- moderately perfectionistic athletes, and
- highly perfectionistic athletes.
Analysis suggested that junior athletes high in perfectionism were at comparatively greater risk of burnout. It was also found that this may especially be the case when the athletes perceive that their parents emphasise concerns about failure and winning without trying one’s best (i.e. elements of an ego-oriented motivational climate).
This research indicates that a strategy aimed at developing a mastery motivational climate helps manage those with perfectionistic tendencies. Lemyre et al. (2008) argue that a mastery motivational climate stimulates:
- a desire for challenge, and intrinsic interest
- motivationally enhancing characteristics for achievement, and
- protection of athletes from burnout.
In contrast, an ego-involving climate:
- promotes an intense focus on validating self-worth
- fosters feelings of incompetence, and
- heightens a sense of personal threat and anxiety,
all of which renders athletes vulnerable to burnout (Lemyre et al., 2008).
You have read a lot on new ideas presented so now it is timely that you recap with a summary of the three preventative strategies.