Beyond Reps and Sets – Strength and Conditioning Coaches Guide to Implementing Self-Determination Theory into Practice

by Stacey Herzog, CSCS
NSCA Coach May 2022
Vol 9, Issue 1


The purpose of this article is to provide strength and conditioning coaches with practical knowledge from the framework of self-determination theory to facilitate student-athlete motivation within the weight room across varying sports.

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This article originally appeared in NSCA Coach, a quarterly publication for NSCA Members that provides valuable takeaways for every level of strength and conditioning coach. You can find scientifically based articles specific to a wide variety of your athletes’ needs with Nutrition, Programming, and Youth columns. Read more articles from NSCA Coach »

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1. Bandura, C, and Kavussanu, M. Authentic leadership in sport: Its relationship with athletes’ enjoyment and commitment and the mediating role of autonomy and trust. International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching 13(6): 968-977, 2018.

2. Deci, EL, and Ryan, RM. The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry 11(4): 227-268, 2000.

3. De Muynck, G, Vansteenkiste, M, Morbee, S, Vandenkerckhove, B, Broek, G, and Soenens, B. The interplay between normative feedback and self-critical perfectionism in predicting competitive tennis players’ competence, tension, and enjoyment: An experimental study. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 10(3): 345-358, 2021.

4. Fransen, K, Boen, F, Vansteenkiste, M, Mertens, N, and Broek, G. The power of competence support: The impact of coaches and athlete leaders on intrinsic motivation and performance. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 28(2): 725-745, 2017.

5. Gillham, A. Maintaining motivation for collegiate basketball players. NSCA Coach 3(1): 22-24, 2015.

6. Graupensperger, S, Benson, A, Eys, M, and Hastings, B. Perceptions of groupness during fitness classes positivilty predict recalled perceptions of exertion, enjoyment, and affective valance: An intensive longitudinal investigation. Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology 8(3): 290-304, 2019.

7. Gustafsson, H, Carlin, M, Podlog, L, Stenling, A, and Lindwall, M. Motivational profiles and burnout in elite athletes: A person-centered approach. Psychology of Sport and Exercise 35: 118-125, 2018.

8. Halperin, I, Wulf, G, Vigotsky, A, Schoenfeld, B, and Behm, D. Autonomy: A missing ingredient of a successful program? Strength and Conditioning Journal 40(4): 18-25, 2018.

9. Liew, G, Kuan, G, Chin, N, and Hashim, H. Mental toughness in sport. German Journal of Exercise and Sport Research 49: 381-394, 2019.

10. Moore, W, Quartiroli, A, Zakrajsek, R, and Eckenrod, M. Increasing collegiate strength and conditioning coaches’ communication of training performance and process goals with athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal 41(2): 18-24, 2019.

11. Olsson, LF, Madigan, AP, and Grugan, MC. Do athlete and coach performance perfectionism predict athlete burnout. European Journal of Sport Science: 1-12, 2021.

12. Quartiroli, A, Moore, EW, and Zakrajsek, RA. Strength and conditioning coaches’ perceptions of sport psychology strategies. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 2020.

13. Radcliffe, J, Comfort, P, and Fawcett, T. The perceived psychological responsibilities of a strength and conditioning coach. The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 32(10): 2853-2862, 2018.

14. Rodrigues, F, Teixeira, D, Neiva, H, Cid, L, and Monteiro, D. The bright and dark sides of motivation as predictors of enjoyment, intention, and exercise persistence. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports 30(4): 787-800, 2019.

15. Ruser, J, Yukhymenko-Lescroart, M, Gilbert, J, Gilbert, W, and Moore, S. Gratitude, coach-athlete relationships, and burnout in collegiate student-athletes. Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology 15(1): 37-53, 2021.

16. Ryan, RM, and Deci, EL. Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and wellbeing. American Psychologist 55(1): 68-78, 2000.

17. Sattar, S, Hussain, SA, and Ahemd, SI. Impact of coaching behavior on the performance of female athletes: A correlational study. 15: 189-198, 2020.

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Stacey Herzog, CSCS

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