Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Robert H. Stupnisky


Ice hockey goaltending is a physically and mentally challenging task within a complex sport. Although goaltending has been shown to contribute more to team success outcomes than any other ice hockey position, goalies are often misunderstood and either under or improperly coached. As a result, goaltenders, coaches, parents, and hockey organizations alike express a need for deeper understanding of the position, especially its mental aspects. Motivation has long been considered a foundational factor for athletic success and continues to be recognized as essential for athlete performance and overall well-being. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to analyze fundamental psychosocial aspects of goaltending by measuring basic psychological needs satisfaction (BPNS), self-determined motivation, and assess how these factors relate to performance. North American and international ice hockey goaltenders (N = 180) ages 18 and older completed a survey measuring participant characteristics, social factors (i.e., number of parents who played hockey and frequency of goalie coaching received), BPNS, motivation, perceived success, and performance. For each measure, descriptive statistics, exploratory factory analysis, and Cronbach’s alpha tested for reliability and validity within the context of goaltending. Differences in key study variables were assessed across gender, level of play, starting status (i.e., starter, second string, third string), and number of parents who played hockey. Multiple regressions measured the degree to which social factors, BPNS, motivation, and other covariates predicted goaltender perceived success and performance. Results indicate that, while elite goaltender BPNS, autonomous motivation, and perceived success levels were high, so too were their controlled motivation and amotivation. BPNS and motivation types differed significantly across level of play and starting status, where professionals and starting goalies demonstrated most optimal psychological and performance outcomes while college and second-string goalies scored lowest. Additionally, social influences such as number of parents who had played hockey negatively associated with psychological and performance constructs, while, conversely, frequency of goalie coaching associated positively. Congruent with SDT, autonomy and relatedness positively predicted autonomous motivation, and competence negatively predicted amotivation. Surprisingly, however, autonomy predicted (nearing significance) an increase in controlled motivation. Finally, social variables, BPNS, and motivation types predicted performance as measured by games played and recent game performance but not by goals against average nor save percentage. In conclusion, autonomous supportive coaching provides a viable framework for applying the tenants of SDT to sports and, more specifically, ice hockey goaltending. Study findings inform the hockey community how to better support goaltender development within psychosocial contexts and will guide goalie coach education efforts.