Master of Education in Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies Graduate Projects


Achievement goal theory explains the underlying reasons for why people do what they do (Roberts & Papaioannou, 2014). At the heart of this theory are two goal orientations; task-orientation which describe individuals who view success as making improvements and giving high effort, while ego-oriented individuals view success by outperforming others (Duda & Treasure, 2015). In addition to having individual goal orientations, motivational climate is a construct within achievement goal theory that describes the environment created by authority figures, via their words and actions (Duda et al., 2014). The environment created is described as either being task- or ego-oriented. Previous research suggests that task-oriented motivational climates elicit more enjoyment, satisfaction, and interest in sport, while ego-oriented motivational climates are correlated with higher levels of anxiety, more avoidance or reduced effort in response to failure, decreased quality of friendships, more conflict within the team, and contingent self-worth (Baric & Bucik, 2009; Breiger, Cumming, Smith, & Smoll, 2015; Curran, Hill, Hall, & Jowett, 2015; Duda et al. 2014). The stress-injury model (Andersen & Williams, 1988) proposes that an athlete’s personality, stress history, and coping resources influence the athlete’s cognitive appraisal of the stressful situation and influence the risk of injury (Andersen & Williams, 1988). To reduce the risk of injury, athletic trainers (ATs) can help athletes to control stress through by teaching the athlete strategies to help cope with stress including deep breathing techniques and controlling negative thoughts. However, there are many challenges that arise for ATs that are working within ego-oriented motivational climates. It is important that the AT knows how to navigate the ego-oriented motivational climate in order to provide the best care for the athletes. The purpose of this paper is to provide a theoretical background of achievement goal theory and practical solutions for ATs to combat ego-oriented motivational climates that are created by the coaching staff. Suggestions to do so include teaching athletes to be assertive, using role play to prepare the athletes for difficult conversations, and weighing the pros and cons during decision making.


Vikki Krane

Second Reader

Matt Kutz