Goal perspectives and sport participation motivation of Special Olympians and typically developing athletes

Yeshayahu Hutzler, Mali Oz, Sharon Barak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Based on social-learning and self-determination motivational theories, the purpose of this study was to determine the sources of motivation in youth and young adults with intellectual disability (ID) who participate in Special Olympics (SO) competitions and those of typically developed (TD) age- and activity-matched athletes. A convenience sample of 63 SO (25 females and 38 males) and 59 TD (16 females and 43 males) athletes was retrieved through communication with local club coaches. Three sub-groups of SO athletes were identified based on disability, including non specified intellectual disability (NSID. =. 39), Down syndrome (DS. =. 17), and Autism (Aut. =. 7). Mean SO and TD athlete ages were 20.35 (SD. =. 7) and 18.8 (SD. =. 8), respectively. For analysis purposes four age groups were created (<15, 15-17, 18-20, >20 years). Participants completed the 13-item, two-factor Task and Ego Orientation in Sport Questionnaire (TEOSQ) and a 16-item four-factor abridged version of the Sport Motivation Scale (SMS). SO and TD athletes were active in swimming (54 and 48, respectively) and basketball (9 and 11, respectively). Groups with and without ID were compared by means of t-tests in the dichotomized variables gender and activity, as well as by 1-way ANOVA with Tukey HSD post hoc comparisons across disability and age groups. Gender distribution was the same in both groups. Participants with DS and NSID scored significantly higher than TD athletes in most motivational scales. Participants with ID increased their external motivation with increasing age, while a reversed pattern was observed in TD. In summary, significant differences between motivational patterns of SO athletes with ID and TD athletes can be observed. These differences should be considered when developing training and competition programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2149-2160
Number of pages12
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
Issue number7
StatePublished - 14 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Intellectual disability
  • Psychological tests
  • Sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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