Motivation and emotion/Book/2017/Mental toughness
What is mental toughness, how does it help, and how can it be developed?
Overview[edit | edit source]
This chapter explains mental toughness and its application in sport, business and lifestyle. This page hopes to provide insight into the mentallityof our top athlete, as well as highlighting that being mentally tough isnt always a good thing.
What is Mental toughness?[edit | edit source]
Although most people have individual definitions, and meaning of mental toughness, there is no generally accepted definition. Most definitions are applied by using a sporting approach and suggest it is a psychological edge that allows you to cope better than your competition with the pressures of competition.
Coach of the Washington Redskins, Vince Lombardi described mental toughness as "a perfectly disciplined state of mind that refuses to give in".
S. Hanton and D. Connaughton of the University of Wales, investigated, in a study, mental toughness and what it means to an array of athletes from different backgrounds. The three stages of the study were: 1. focus group, 2. individual interviews, 3. individual rating of definition and ranking of mental toughness.
Their results arose the definition that:
"Mental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to; - generally cope better than your opponents with the many demands (competition, training, lifestyle, that sport places on the performer.
- specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident and in control under pressure" 
Through the extensive development of the definition of mental toughness it is suggested that without an opponent its virtually impossible to aquiremental toughness. but what is a competition? are we, as humans contantly in competition, after all its survival of the fitess .
As reported by Jones et al. (2002), mental toughness has been constructed to represent a variety of positive responses to situations which have included the ability to persist and refuse to give in, and to not let adverse situations affect performance. This definition alineswith the work of S. Hanton and D. Connaughton and the words from the washington redskins coach.
The characteristics of mentally tough performers proposed have been wide ranging and include: high levels of optimism, confidence, self-belief, and self-esteem, achieving consistence, desire, determination, and commitment focus and concentration and willpower, control, motivation, and courage . It appears, therefore,that virtually any desirable positive psychological characteristic associated with sportingsuccess has been labelled as mental toughness at one time or another. Despite the breadth and differences of opinion surrounding this construct, there does appear to be some agreement that mental toughness is reflected in an athlete's ability to cope with stress and resultant anxiety associated with high pressure competitive situations.
The general lack of clarity and precision surrounding the term mental toughness is unfortunate since it is arguably one of the most important psychological phenomenonsin both professional and amature sport
Key words from the defintions; cope better, be more consistant , refuse to give in.
How Mental Toughness helps in Sport[edit | edit source]
Sport is no longer run and organised by community clubs. It is a multi-billion dollar business that competes for scarce resources and uses, amongst other things, professional management techniques, to assess sports persons potential from a young age. The increasingly business-like environment of both social and professional sport has resulted in greater analysis of players performance. In particular, the role of physiological attributes and how these can predict success in the world of professional and amateur. However, to date, evidence is sparse concerning the role of personality traits in predicting such success.
Over recent years, sports pyschologyhas improved significantly and has been implemeted by coaching teams in almost every sport. A sports ppsychologist is now a norm in almost all coaching teams, specifically team sports . So, What is sport psychology?
Sports psycology Sports psychologists are a standard in almost all coaching teams . They often travel with the team an are involved deeply with the training sessions .is is a proficiency that uses psychological knowledge and skills to address optimal performance and well-being of athletes, developmental and social aspects of sports participation, and systemic issues associated with sports settings and organizations.
Sport psychologists help individuals to develop their game play and ability to deal with pre-performance anxiety and arousal, and while sport psychology plays a major role in the development in mental toughness its still argued that mental toughness is something individuals are born with and that it can not be taught, it can only be enhanced.
Important attributes associated with mental toughness[edit | edit source]
Along with a defining a strong definition , S. Hanton and D. Connaughton, asked athletes to rate attributes of mental toughness, in terms of how important they were to build a foundations of winning athletes. This is how they rated the attributes from most important to least important:
- Having an unshakable self-belief in your ability to achieve your competition goals
- Having an unshakable self-belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponents
- Having an insatiable desire and internalized motives to succeed
- Bouncing back from performance set-backs as a result of increased determination to succeed
- Thriving on the pressure of competition
- Accepting that competition anxiety is inevitable and knowing that you can cope with it
- Not being adversely affected by others’ good and bad performances
- Remaining fully-focused in the face of personal life distractions
- Switching a sport focus on and off as required
- Remaining fully-focused on the task at hand in the face of competition-specific distractions
- Pushing back the boundaries of physical and emotional pain, while still maintaining technique and effort under distress (in training and competition)
- Regaining psychological control following unexpected, uncontrollable events (competition-specific)
These attributes support the characteristics of the definition from S. Hanton and D. Connaughton, as well as highlighting what athletes are more concerned about in terms of improving their mental toughness. It is highlighted here that self belief is a major factor of mental toughness. 
Examples of Athletes with high mental toughness[edit | edit source]
- Usain Bolt
- Floyd Mayweather
- Rafael Nadal
- Serena Williams
The athletes mentioned above are known for being incredibalydedicated and at times contriverial in their approach to sports man ship .
"My game is my mental toughness. Just not only to be able to play, to win, but to be able to come back when I'm down. Both on the court and after tough losses, just to continue to come back and continue to fight, it's something that takes a lot of tenacity." Serena Williams
Williams attributes her ability to overcome issues to her love for the sport.and while she admits that she has "had her ups and downs in the sport, shes lucky that she can use tennis as a therapy" This love for the game is argued by Declan Connaughton, Cardiff, Ross Wadey , Sheldon Hanton & Graham Jones to be the underpinning of her mental toughness. This can be compared with Nick Kyrious and his game play. His outbursts and boredum with the game highlights a lul in his mental toughness.
Kyriousand is controversial out bursts on the court have often been highlighted in the media, and have only ever been explained by accusing him personally, but research suggests that the pressure surrounding professionalism has taken a toll on his mental toughness . This is sadly a common occurrence in "individual" sports as they are less likely to seek help from sport psychologists, and are rarely forced into sessions.
Personality and mental toughness[edit | edit source]
The study "Mental toughness in sport: Achievement level, gender, age, experience, and sport type differences" completed by Adam R. Nicholls et al. looked at the possibility that athletes with a higher level of achievement were more mentally tough.
The study did not support the hypothesis "that there would be significant differences in mental toughness among athletes of different: (a) achievement level, (b) gender, (c) age, (d) sporting experience, and (e) sport type (team vs. individual and contact vs. non-contact sports)" . They found, through a questionnaire, that differences between levels of athletic achievement are minimal or subtle and that other factors like physical attributes, technical skill, or different psychological factors predict achievement level more accurately. 
positive and negatives of mental toughness[edit | edit source]
An individualsmental toughness is shown in their personality type, but just because an individual possess a certain characteristic doesn't mean they have positive or negative Mental toughness .
People who are defined as mentally tough are often also described as competitive, bossy and emotionally unattached . Usually people who are considered mentally tough will struggle in none competitive situations. Unfortunately this means that people who identify as mentally tough struggle in relationships and in social situations as they come across as too competitive --> because of this people with high mental toughness are at higher risk of mental health issues.
Generally though, people with mental toughness progress faster in all aspects, including, corporate, social and educational areas.
Conclusion[edit | edit source]
While the information sorroundingthe topic of mental toughness is limited it is aparents that the need for further reasearch is needed to further develope an understanding of Mental toughness , Currently we seem to know that mental toughness is a thing, but arent sure why or how people obtain it .
There is no doubt that mental toughness is sourtafter by many people, sportsmen specficially strive for high levels of mental toughness.
See also[edit | edit source]
- Mindsets and motivation (Book chapter, 2016)
References[edit | edit source]