Discover more from 3 Points by Brian Sullivan
An introduction to SDT and how it can help you and your team
Self-Determination Theory (SDT) provides an understanding of motivation, performance, and well-being. Over the past two decades, it has become the predominant theory of motivation and I’d like to share a basic understanding of the theory.
This week’s 3 Points I’ll introduce some core tenets of Self-Determination Theory, why it matters, and how you can give it a try for your team and yourself!
1. Self-determination theory suggests there are three universal psychological needs: Competence, Autonomy, and Connection (defined below) and further that these needs must be continually satisfied for people to maintain optimal performance and well-being.
Competence – The need to feel like we are doing a good job and providing value.
Autonomy – The need to feel like we have control over what we are doing.
Connection – The need to experience meaningful interactions and relationships, a sense of belonging.
2. As coaches, you can play a huge role in meeting your athlete’s psychological needs. Research conducted at the youth, amateur and elite levels of sport has shown that athletes perception of autonomy and social support by the coach positively predict the need satisfaction of the athletes. When the sporting environment satisfies an athlete’s basic needs, we can expect to see greater self-determination, investment, well-being and reduced indicators of ill-being (burnout, anxiety, stress, exhaustion etc.) from the participants.
We know coaches are performers too, and have the same basic needs. A study of over 400 coaches in the UK found that coaches’ need satisfaction of competence and autonomy positively predicted their levels of psychological well-being. Further, coaches’ psychological well-being positively predicted the perception of autonomy support by their athletes, and negatively predicted the perception controlling behaviors – and this is when we can expect to see those good things mentioned above (self-determination, investment, well-being).
To summarize: Your psychological well-being as a coach impacts your ability to help your athletes feel competent, autonomous, and connected. When we do this we can help our athletes maintain optimal performance and well-being.
3. Try it out on your team and yourself today (and everyday)!
What is something that your players/staff are doing well? How are individuals improving and bringing value?
Name something you are doing well.
Is there an area you can allow your team/staff greater input, decision making, and responsibility?
Choose 1 thing for yourself this week.
How can you show your care and support for your athletes and staff extends beyond the court?
Reach out to someone who has made you feel acceptance and belonging.