Background: Physical activity is a major public health issue as trends show inadequate levels of physical activity for health and rising levels of obesity. Understanding motivation for physical activity in youth by assessing their motivational profiles associated with school physical education could inform future interventions.
Aims: To investigate goal orientation and perceived competence profiles in young adolescents and to test the nature of differences between clusters on motivational and physical activity measures.
Sample: Boys (N = 427) and girls (N = 391), aged 11-14 years, from two comprehensive schools in England.
Method: Cross-sectional survey using cluster analysis.
Results: Clusters reflecting 'highly', 'moderately', and 'lowly' motivated youth were found. Physical activity, incremental sport ability beliefs, and self-determined motivation were highest in the highly motivated cluster. Girls were under-represented in this cluster.
Conclusions: High motivation towards physical activity is characterised by high task and high ego orientation, and high perceived competence. With only 38% of this group being girls, interventions are required to boost motivation for girls based on goal and self-determination approaches.