Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Frederick, Evan

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Shreffler, Megan

Committee Member

Shreffler, Megan

Committee Member

Hancock, Meg

Committee Member

Immekus, Jason

Author's Keywords

strength and conditioning; motivation; self-determination theory; achievement goal theory; collegiate athletes


The purpose of this study was to understand the motivations of Division I collegiate athletes to participate in strength and conditioning programs as a part of their sports performance program. Specifically, this study examined what the motivations were and whether there were any differences between the athlete subpopulations of age group, gender, sport played, sport type, and injury status. In contrast to existing sport participation motivation research, this study focused on the participation of strength and conditioning as a part of sport participation, an area barren of motivational understanding and literature. This study utilized Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and Achievement Goal Theory (AGT) as theoretical frameworks by adapting existing instruments originally designed for sport participation to strength and conditioning training participation. This was in effort to capture athlete motivations in their approach to training as a portion of their sport participation. The SDT identified motivations along a scale according to the level of self-determination each motivation expresses while AGT identifies two primary goal-orientations one may espouse when participating in an activity. To address the purpose of the study, a questionnaire comprised of demographic items and the two adapted instruments was distributed to student-athlete emails and the institution’s strength and conditioning coaches encouraged athletes to respond. Participant responses (n=89) revealed trends in motivational patterns among the subpopulations. Most notable was the motivational trend among athletes who experienced injuries significant enough to require specific return-to-play protocols to report lower levels of autonomous motivations. This specific population is under-studied regarding motivations for strength and conditioning participation. A second notable takeaway was the current study was among the first to utilize sport played as a predictor variable for motivation in training participation. Additional analyses showed no statistically significant differences among subpopulations’ motivations. The results indicate theoretical and practical implications for researchers and strength and conditioning practitioners. Theoretically, it is notable to find athletes with a positive injury status history to have lower autonomy than their uninjured counterparts, leaving an open area of study to further explore the injury-autonomy relationship. Practitioners can use this knowledge to alter their motivation styles and emphases to better support and nurture athlete autonomy in training after injuries. The differences in motivations among sports should be further researched for significance and any findings may support coaching modifications to best reach sport teams. This study provides initial motivational trends among Division I student-athletes in their participation to strength and conditioning programs and poses suggestions for future research in this area.