Individual motivations for physical education and recreation: conceptual fundamentals

PhD, Associate Professor M.A. Elmurzaev1
PhD, Associate Professor I.A. Panchenko1
PhD, Associate Professor Yu.I. Vinogradov1
1Saint-Petersburg Mining University, Saint-Petersburg

Keywords: motivation, physical education and recreation activity, personality values and motivations, recreational motivations.

Background. Motivation may be interpreted in general terms as the determined human behavior that, in the context of concepts of behaviorism, refers to unconditional reflective, impulsive and other psychophysical actions and manifestations of human functions. It should be mentioned that this definition is unlikely inclusive enough as it ignores some important socio-cultural aspects. Motivation acts as a kind of individual activity focus for the entire system of psychological and personality qualities, abilities and traits that channels the individual physical education and recreation activity and makes it possible to forecast its progress and outcomes [3, 5, 9].
Objective of the study was to analyze the conceptual basics of physical education and recreation motivations on the relevant theoretical and empirical provisions.
Methods and structure of the study. Methodologically, the study was designed on the relevant theoretical and empirical provisions with comparative analyses of the physical education and recreation design logics and practices.
Results and discussion. Having clarified some theoretical aspects of motivations, we may conclude that the existing theoretical concepts of motivations are based on different grounds – namely socio-demographic grounds plus gender classes of the physical education and recreation subjects in some cases; theory of needs (traditionally dominated by the biological needs) in other cases; and cultural concepts of personality and activity in the third group of cases. Motivation, therefore, may be more accurately described as the multilevel and multi-component system prioritizing different personality aspects including the individual psychological qualities, motor experience, health, communication skills, etc.
One of the key values of a physical recreation is its socio-cultural focus, with its dominant leisure-time preferences shaping up the human activity driven by the individual culture and needs. It is in this domain that the cultural potential of physical recreation is formed. Therefore, recreational motivations should be studied at the biological, psychological and social levels of human nature [1].
Our analysis of the available empirical studies of physical education and recreation motivations showed that they are analyzed mainly at the structural-functional level, with a special priority to the social group specific motives. We believe that the studies underestimate the purely psychological aspect of the subject matter, and a qualitative analysis of the subjective motives of physical education and recreation subjects is needed since subjectivity is the key recreational motivations factor that determines the choice of recreation forms, models and services with the relevant functions and contents. It is the transition from a potential and possible into the actual goals and reality that is the most important component of the individual socio-cultural and psychological development; with the psychological traits of the physical education and recreation subjects largely shaping up their recreational motivations.
Each motive, despite being very specific, is driven by different situational factors in its manifestations, and this is the way for the motivations to progress. It should be also mentioned that motivations may evolve in the active recreation process depending on changes in the recreation service environment, locations, partners and even weather conditions. Primary motives for physical education and recreation are seldom determined by sustainable needs and do not significantly affect its content, goals and expectations. Secondary motives normally come up in the needs satisfying process and may be interpreted as deliberate and focused drivers in the context of a stable attitude to recreation, as they directly encourage the individual for the goal-centered activity [2, 3]. The relevant research toolkit is extremely versatile and, consequently, the results vary in a wide range as well to complicate a comparative analysis. Thus, for example, A.N. Nikolaev identified 11 leading motives in his study of the students’ physical education and recreation motivations.
It is never easy to quantify every motive and hierarchy of motives in the individual motivational system, even when the sample is fairly homogeneous – for many reasons including, e.g., the lack of a common scale to test and rate motives. Some researchers use a 4-point rating scale and others an 11-point scale. These difficulties still complicate the efforts to develop a commonly recognized concept of physical education and recreation motivations and run a comparative analysis to rate benefits of such concept versus the other relevant concepts that exist in different sciences in application to different social, demographic and gender groups [4].
Thus the teenage groups are basically driven by socio-psychological motives including the informal group affiliations and group communication with joint fun, games, freedom form parental control, etc.; whilst health and physical progress motivations are normally ranked fourth or fifth on their lists of priority motives. Student groups tend to prioritize motives having sound socio-cultural meanings – e.g. fitness for body shaping and nice slim figure, good health etc. Our findings are consistent with results of a few national study reports that demonstrate the teenagers’ physical education and recreation motivations being dominated not so much by the desire to achieve absolute life values (health, physical perfection, motor skills etc.) but also by the leadership, independence and self-assertion motives [3, 5].
Conclusion. Studies of the personality values and motivations in the physical education and recreation domain should be based on theoretically and empirically sound methodological approaches. Individual personality values and motivations in physical education and recreation service domain are largely determined by the health, social well-being and the general life satisfactions ranked among the key socio-psychological personality qualities.


  1. Bolotin A.E., Piskun O.E., Pogodin S.N. Special features of sports management for university students with regard to their value-motivational orientation. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2017. no. 3. pp. 51-53.
  2. Dementyev K.N. Motivational basis for youth physical education process. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2017. no. 11. pp. 33-35.
  3. Kuvanov V.A., Korostelev E.N. Students' awareness of healthy lifestyles: questionnaire survey and analysis. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2017. no. 5. pp. 21-22.
  4. Nikolayev A.N. Sport activity rating methodology. Methodology to assess motives for doing sports. St. Petersburg. Lesgaft SPbSUC publ., 2003. pp. 18-25.
  5. Pristav O.V., Dementev K.N., Mironova O.V. Study of motivational sphere of academic swimmers in context of popularization of physical education and sports. Uchenye zapiski universiteta im. P.F. Lesgafta.  2014. no, 10 (116). pp. 208-212.

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Objective of the study was to analyze the conceptual foundations of motivation for sports and recreational activities from the perspective of theoretical and empirical approaches.
Methods and structure of the study. The methodological base of the study was built on the basis of theoretical and empirical approaches based on a comparative analysis of the practice of organization of sports and recreational activities.
Results of the study and conclusions. While clarifying particular theoretical aspects of motivation the authors found that motivation for recreational activities should be studied at different levels of human organization - biological, psychological and social.
A brief analysis of the results of empirical studies of the motivation for sports and recreational activities showed that this problem is studied mainly at the structural and functional levels: motives of different degrees of manifestation are distinguished among representatives of different social groups. According to the authors, empirical studies lack a "purely" psychological approach to the problem, namely a qualitative analysis of subjects’ motives for sports and recreational activities.
The authors conclude that realization by the subject of own motivational-value orientations during sports and recreational activities is determined by the level of his/ her health, social wellbeing and the degree of satisfaction with life as the most important socio-psychological qualities of the individual.