Introduction: Girls are often less motivated to participate in community sport compared to boys. Having a strong social identity with a sports team is positively associated with motivation to continue participation in sport, yet the mechanisms explaining this association are not well-known. In the current study, physical self-concept is tested as a mediator of the association between social identity and motivation.
Method: Girl badminton athletes were recruited to examine how the team environment shapes physical self-concept, and whether this association relates to motivation to participate in sport. Ninety-two girls completed a self-report survey to measure social identity, physical self-perceptions, and motivation. Two mediation models were conducted to examine whether physical self-concept mediated the relationship between social identity and autonomous motivation and controlled motivation.
Results: Physical self-concept partially mediated the relationship between social identity and autonomous motivation. The bootstrapped unstandardized indirect effect was, b = 0.05, 95% CI = 0.002 to.14. Physical self-concept fully mediated the relationship between social identity and controlled motivation. The bootstrapped unstandardized indirect effect was, b = −0.13, 95% CI = −0.30 to −0.01, p = 0.04.
Discussion: These results highlight the importance of the group context in relation to individual physical self-concept and motivation. Overall, targeting aspects of the team environment in community-level sport may be an important strategy to improve girls’ physical self-concept, and autonomous motivation to continue sport participation.