Team and Individual Strength use as predictors of Athlete Engagement: the moderation effect of gender
Athlete engagement is a cognitive-affective experience that increases athlete flow and decreases burnout. It is feasible that team and individual strengths be deemed valuable resources that could be harnessed to ensure optimum athlete engagement. In understanding the predictors of athlete engagement, team- and individual athlete interventions and coaching practices could be enhanced to achieve optimal performance and athlete success. While research on athlete engagement has increased in recent years, research focusing on strength use and gender differences in athlete engagement is minimal. Research that has found differences in the way males and females utilise different resources to perform could be valuable in determining better coaching interventions in sport, as well as how a team environment could be designed to enhance athletic engagement. The aim of this study was to investigate team- and individual strength use as predictors of athlete engagement. It furthermore examined the influence of gender on the relationship between team strength use and athlete engagement as well as the influence of gender on the relationship between individual strength use and athlete engagement. This study followed a quantitative, cross-sectional approach. A target sample population (n = 235) was utilized to highlight the prevalence of relationships and associations at a given time. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to obtain factor scores. PROCESS in SPSS evaluated moderation. Statistical analysis highlighted a low athlete engagement when team strength use is low. In a study performed by Stander et al. (2017) it was indicated that individual strength use strongly correlated with athlete engagement. The lowered athlete engagement with low team strength use and increase in athlete engagement with individual strength use indicates a plausible correlation between strength use and athlete engagement. The findings from the research could assist coaches in understanding the importance of team strength use when working with female athletes. Team climate and team relationships could be a focal point for team strength use in an athlete’s environment. The Job Demands-Resources Model (JD-R Model) and Conservation of Resources (COR) Model in sport psychology can be influential when applying the understanding of gender differences in obtaining favourable outcomes.