Sarah M. Boeren

Document Type

Honors Project

First Advisor

Dr. Lori Gano-Overway

Degree Award Date

Spring 2012


Perfectionism, Autocratic Coaching, Basic Needs Theory, Athlete Burnout, sports psychology


Health Psychology | Psychology | Sports Sciences


·Burnout affects the entirety of an athlete (mind, body, & soul) and has many influential antecedents and compon~nts. This study attempts to make the connections between perfectionism, autocratic coaching, and the basic needs theory and how they interplay to influence athletic burnout. Perfectionism may cause athletes to set unrealistically high goals, which helps create unneeded stress and frustration when these goals are not met. Autocratic coaches create environments that are low in social support and autonon1y. Both of these factors can then influence the three basic needs enabling optimal well-being and reducing the possibility of burnout. This research study generated an autoethnographic piece that tells a personal narrative of a collegiate basketball player to provide insight into how these factors intertwined to create burnout. This particular autoethnography uses personal stories and experiences that are written in first person, use dialogue, emotion, and sub-conscious thoughts. This basketball player's three basic needs (autonomy, relatedness, & competence) were not getting met due to her coach's autocratic style and her_ own socially prescribed perfectionism, so she experienced a full blown burnout episode. By looking at this study and others like it, coaches can learn how their actions influence their athletes. Also, if coaches can create a positive and supportive environment, then athletes may be less likely to burnout.