The main aim of this study was to examine the differences in motivation to participate in sport activities among sports students from three different countries. On a sample of 390 sports students from Slovenia, Croatia and Germany we studied what motivates an interest in being sports active. The sample was stratified across the choice to attend table tennis lessons at all three institutions and all students have completed the Participation Motivation Questionnaire (PMQ). The results revealed that the latent structure of the types of sports students' motives consisted of six factors (sport action with friend, popularity, fitness & health, social status, sports events, relaxation through sports). We also found significant sex differences in motivation to participate in sport activities for all sports students from the three different countries. We did not find relevant age-based differences among the students, and this is the only initial hypothesis that we can reject. Key pointsThe potential implications of the result can be in better understanding the relationship between different motivational orientations - in particular, extrinsic motivation - and sport motivation among school-aged individuals.In the context of Self Determination Theory, students can be encouraged in developing more autonomous orientations for sport activity, rather than controlled and impersonal, especially in certain countries.Significant factors of differences have been found in motivation to participate in sport activities among sports students from three different countries and also some significant sex differences have been found in motivation to participate in sport activities for all sports students.
Keywords: Sports activities; cross-cultural study; school.