A cross-sectional study of the psychosocial predictors of re-engaging in team sport during early motherhood

Publication Name

Mental Health and Physical Activity


Background: Mothers with young children in Australia have significantly low rates of participation in physical activity and sport. This is potentially due to the postpartum transition to motherhood, and the expectation of the maternal role. This study aimed to apply an extended model of self-determination theory to compare mothers who have and have not re-engaged in team sports since their child was born and investigate the psychosocial factors that may have influenced their re-engagement in team sports. Methods: A cross-sectional design was used to collect data from 191 mothers (M = 32.2) who were either currently playing or had previously played team sport. A hierarchical multiple regression was used to predict mother's motivation to re-engage using self-determination theory factors (autonomy, relatedness, competence), postpartum mental health (depression, anxiety, and stress) and maternal identity. A hierarchical binary logistic regression was then conducted to predict the likelihood of re-engagement based on motivation, postpartum mental health, and maternal identity. Results: Findings showed that autonomy, competence, anxiety, and maternal identity play key roles in predicting the motivation of mothers to engage in team sport. Additionally, greater motivation increased the likelihood of a mother re-engaging in team sport. Conclusion: This study has important theoretical and practical implications in that it expands the knowledge of the unique population of ‘everyday’ mothers within a sport and physical activity context, as well as provides preliminary directions for applied research in motivating mothers to re-engage in team sports.

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