Strategies to Promote Self-Determination in Collegiate Rowing Selection


  • Jason Rich Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Suzanne T. Pottratz Barry University


Autonomy, Competence, Relatedness, Assessment, Psychological Needs


The cooperative aspect of rowing where eight rowers synchronously contribute to boat speed, complicates boat lineup selection due to the difficulty in assessing individual performances in ecological context. The rowing selection process traditionally relies on a variety of measures that include assessment on both land and water such as ergometer tests, observation, and seat races. Many of these assessments lack either reliability, validity, or objectivity which can result in anxiety, uncertainty, and ultimately loss of motivation for many rowers. The Self-Determination Theory (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 1985) posits that autonomous motivation is grounded in three basic psychological needs being met; competence, autonomy, and relatedness. While many traditional rowing selection processes thwart these needs, a transparent and objective selection process emphasizing performance feedback, a team environment, and an athlete-centered approach may yield more intrinsically motivated athletes during a typically stressful aspect of the sport. A sample selection process that takes the three needs of SDT into consideration has been proposed in the hopes that it may provide a framework for rowing coaches who seek to enhance their selection process as well as the overall motivation and well-being of their athletes.


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