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2007 Grant Recipient: Longitudinal analysis of gymnasts’ sport commitment: Exploring developmental differences, sport commitment types, and parental perceptions.

Windee Weiss, University of Northern Iowa

The purpose of our study was to extend the current knowledge base on sport commitment in four ways: (a) examining the parents’ perceptions of their daughter’s competitive gymnastics with regards to sport commitment constructs, (b) exploring sport commitment type differences from a developmental perspective, (c) examining the influence of the original and additional predictors of psychological and behavioral sport commitment from a developmental perspective (i.e., different models for various age groups and competitive levels), and (d) longitudinal analysis of sport commitment constructs. The AASP Research grant allowed us to travel and collect data with 16 private gymnastics clubs in 6 states, with a total of 491 female gymnasts, ages 8 to 18 years of age. Gymnasts were currently competing in levels 4 through 10 within the USA Gymnastics organization. Additionally, a total of 283 parents completed similar questionnaires designed to tap their perceptions of sport commitment constructs. Ultimately, our goal is to follow these gymnasts for the next five years in order to tap changes over time and developmental shifts in regards to sport commitment constructs. 

In order to explore our first purpose, parental perceptions of sport commitment, parent responses were paired with that of their daughters. Results revealed that: (a) higher gymnasts’ perceptions of social constraints was related to higher parent perceptions of social constraints, (b) lower parents’ perceptions of social constraints and higher perceptions of benefits significantly predicted higher gymnast commitment across all competitive levels, (c) parents of gymnasts competing in levels 8 – 10 perceived significantly higher costs compared to parents of gymnasts competing in levels 4 – 5 and 6 – 7, (d) parents of gymnasts competing in levels 6 – 7 and 8 – 10 perceived higher utility value than did parents of lower level gymnasts (levels 4 – 5), but were not significantly different from each other, (e) parents of lower level gymnasts (levels 4 – 5) perceived higher parent intimacy and companionship compared to parents of gymnasts in higher levels (6 – 7 and 8 – 10), and (f) parent perceptions of social constraints was the only significant predictor of gymnasts’ sport commitment, with lower perceptions of parents social constraints predicting higher gymnast sport commitment for the highest level gymnasts.

Data analyses are underway for the other study purposes, as well as Time 2 data collection.