Journal of Human Sport and Exercise

Motivational differences between athletes at junior and senior level: An analysis of the football, handball, and water polo players

Denis Bratko, Viktorija Trninić, Marko Trninić



Research in sport and exercise psychology indicates that motivational factors contribute to exceptional achievement, both in individual and team sports. Therefore, analysing differences between junior and senior athletes in contact ball sports in terms of their motivational differences may be an important information source for the selection process and management of the development of the elite athletes. In this study data on athletes’ motivation was collected via self-assessments. Data was analysed in order to answer the questions regarding the motivational differences of athletes, which might be related to the type of collective ball sport and their competing level related to age. Sample consisted of 316 athletes at junior and 286 athletes at senior level, which were active in one of the three team sports: football, handball, and water polo. They filled in three self-report questionnaires: Self-motivation Inventory – SMI; Sport Attitudes Inventory – SAI; and Task and ego orientation in sport questionnaire - TEOSQ. Results suggest that senior athletes have higher score on self-motivation, motive to achieve power and task goal orientation scales than junior athletes. These findings were replicated in all three sports which were analysed. Besides that, football players have the highest motive to achieve success, motive to achieve power and task goal orientation; water polo players have the most pronounced self-motivation, while handball players show lowest levels of these motives.


Motivation; Sport; Football; Handball; Water polo; Junior; Senior


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