The reliability and validity of the sport engagement instrument in the Finnish dual career context

Joni Kuokkanen, Tuomo Virtanen, Mirja Hirvensalo, Jan-Erik Romar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Although engagement is key to predicting burnout and dropout, few existing instruments measure this phenomenon in the sports context. As part of a larger three-year Lower Secondary Sports Schools Pilot Project (LSSSPP) in Finland, we conducted two studies as part of the present research with the major aims of (a) constructing the Sport Engagement Instrument (SpEI) and (b) validating the new instrument in the Finnish dual career context. In the preparatory study, an expert panel constructed the SpEI, a questionnaire comprising 37 items intended to measure cognitive and affective sports engagement. The main study utilised questionnaire data collected from two independent samples (n 1 = 992 and n 2 = 465) of lower secondary school student athletes aged 13 and 14 years to validate the SpEI. Six competing factorial structures with differing numbers and subsets of the 37 items were analysed using a series of confirmatory factor analyses. The results indicate that 18 items dispersed along with four affective engagement factors and either two first-order or one second-order cognitive engagement factor described the sports engagement phenomenon most accurately in both samples. Higher levels of sport burnout correlated negatively and behavioural engagement positively with affective and cognitive dimensions of engagement, which supported the instrument’s validity. Although further validation is needed, the SpEI, in combination with coach and parental observations of changes in behavioural signs, might be useful in identifying athletes with low sports engagement and developing subsequent interventions accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
JournalInternational Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Affective engagement
  • cognitive engagement
  • behavioural engagement
  • burnout
  • questionnaire


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