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Parkour and Intrinsic Motivation: A Mixed Methods Analysis of Self-Determination Theory in an Emerging Youth Sport


Carson, J. & Larsen, B.



Annals of Behavioral Medicine

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Physical activity is important for improving lifelong health and wellness, yet only a quarter of US children meet physical activity guidelines. Highly competitive youth sports may impact youth dropout and providing alternative options to be active may be a solution. Self-Determination Theory, a psychological theory around the idea of intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation, is an underutilized framework that may be helpful in addressing this issue. We employed a mixed method design to understand how Parkour, an emerging youth sport, may better address psychological needs as defined by Self-Determination Theory. Cross-sectional survey data from 38 children/adolescents (ages 7-17) enrolled in Parkour versus other sports were compared, and 15 of the Parkour participants were individually interviewed to gain a deeper understanding. There were significant differences between the two groups for their motivations and physical activity habits, and the addition of the qualitative data illustrates the potential advantages of Parkour to reach children who may be otherwise uninterested. This study provides an important background for future research into Parkour that has thus far been limited.


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