It is widely accepted that when psychological needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are encouraged in physical education classes, they can play a potentially important role in enhancing motivation and positive consequences. Purpose. The purpose of this study was to analyse the relations between self-determination theory and the importance and usefulness pupils give to physical education. Basic procedures. The sample consisted of 440 Spanish students, aged between 14 and 16, who were measured for psychological mediators (autonomy, competence and relatedness), motivation types (intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation and amotivation) and physical education importance (PEI). Main findings. The results showed that PEI was positively related to autonomy, competence, relatedness and self-determined motivation. Amotivation was negatively associated with PEI. Conclusions. The satisfaction of the three basic psychological needs and self-determined motivation develop a more positive attitude of the students towards physical education. The results are discussed with regard to enhancing participation rates and, potentially, physical activity levels.
Key words: physical education; motivation; self-determination