Self-determination theory and its applications in sport and exercise settings have been reviewed thoroughly elsewhere (Hagger & Chatzisarantis, in press; Ryan & Deci, 2002) and will not be reviewed in detail here. Instead, one construct from this theory, autonomy support, will be highlighted for its potential to inform and enhance coach training programs. Autonomy support can be construed as part of the motivational climate in which activities take place. The functional significance of autonomy-supportive climates is that individuals feel that their behavior originates from and expresses their true selves as opposed to being a response to external pressures or demands (i.e., controlled; Deci & Ryan, 1987). In contrast to controlling climates, autonomy support has been associated with high levels of intrinsic motivation, creativity, cognitive flexibility, conceptual learning, persistence in behavior change, self- esteem, perceived competence, trust, and health (Deci & Ryan, 1987).
The benefits of autonomy support also have been demonstrated in the physical domain. For example, in physical education classes, autonomy support has been positively linked with psychological need satisfaction, self-determined motivation (i.e., relative autonomy) for physical activity in physical education and leisure-time activities, physical activity intentions, leisure-time physical activity behavior, teacher ratings of motivated behavior, and concentration, and negatively linked with negative affect (Hagger, Chatzisarantis, Barkoukis, Wang, & Baranowski, 2005; Hagger, Chatzisarantis, Culverhouse, & Biddle, 2003; Ntoumanis, 2005; Standage, Duda, & Ntoumanis, 2005, 2006). Autonomy support also increases the strength of relations between physical education teachers’ early expectations and students’ later perceptions of competence (Trouilloud, Sarrazin, Bressoux, & Bois, 2006). In exercise, autonomy support has been positively linked to self-determined motivation, exercise intentions, effort expenditure,