By having a well developed pre-, during and post-performance routine you steer clear of one of the most dangerous activities a performer can engage in: thinking! What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? As a result, mentally tough people will often not be affected detrimentally by stressful circumstances in the same way that the those who are more mentally sensitive might. The only difference is the audience. My definition of mental toughness is the ability to remain calm, cool and collected no matter what the situation. Many times a defeat is the seed of discontent we need to motivate us to improve our game.  They have an opportunity mindset, meaning that they tend to view pressure situations as exciting opportunities rather than debilitating threats. It is clear, however, that several issues regarding conceptualization, measurement, utility, and diversity need to be addressed before mental toughness research can be said to rest on a firm scientific foundation. The following comes from a previous note found here I sent out a while back but thought it was worth sharing again. The researchers take care to note that just because ambition is … Routines help us to trust the process and not focus on the outcome. Learn more. They have highlighted that the attributes of a mentally tough athlete in one sport may differ greatly from the attributes of a mentally tough athlete in a different sport. I define mental toughness as being "able to access their talent at the highest level they are capable on a consistent basis regardless of the situation." Deeply ingrained belief in one’s ability and comfort asserting oneself interpersonally. Challenge: Willingness to push boundaries, accept risks, and learn from mistakes and failures. How do you know how mentally tough you are? Connect With Your Purpose. Fletcher (Fletcher & Fletcher, 2005; Fletcher, 2005) provides an alternative way of viewing mental toughness. The DNA of Mentally Tough People. 2. The 4C model also enjoys a prominent role in health psychology, where mental toughness is seen as an important moderator between stress and illness. Their “survive and thrive” definition of mental toughness as being RESILENCE, the ability to bounce back from setbacks and failures and CONFIDENCE, the ability to spot and seize opportunities, is a sound and symmetrical definition which I use all the time. The two questions I get most often are what is mental toughness and how do you develop it? For mos… Get in the habit of always playing at the height of your ability and you will see that ability continue to grow. According to Clough’s model, mental toughness is made up of four components that psychologists call the “4Cs:” challenge, control, commitment, and confidence.  Good question. In other words, you can go about your business no matter what happens. Mentally Tough individuals performance consistently under pressure and deal better with stress and challenges. Becoming mentally strong is not something that you can just decide to do, and it usually doesn't happen overnight. Today’s headlines are tomorrow’s fish wrappings, so to be great you need to be consistent. Thinking is an important part of strategizing before a play and, in some situations, it is important to think through a game situation during a play. Mentally tough people love to be challenged. Mentally tough people do not externalize blame or credit. As the mental toughness concept increased in popularity, researchers began questioning its scientific merit and pushing for the development of an operational definition so that mental toughness could be quantified and studied using the tools of science. Willingness to push boundaries, accept risks, and learn from mistakes and failures. In the sports setting, several research groups have adopted a more “subjective” approach to defining mental toughness, choosing to rely on the collective wisdom of elite athletes, coaches, and sport psychologists. Challenge: Willingness to push boundaries, accept risks, and learn from mistakes and failures. … Having become a sort of default explanation for any victory in challenging situations, mental toughness has been criticized as “one of the most used but least understood terms in applied sport psychology” (Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton, 2002). Let’s break that down. One thing that all research groups seem to agree on is that mental toughness comprises a number of interrelated psychological factors that help an individual “deal effectively with challenges, stressors, and pressure” (Clough & Strycharczyk, 2012). In most sports the next play or the next move is the same no matter if it’s at practice or in the last few minutes of the championship game. Mental health (wellbeing) is starting to be considered an important part of sporting excellence. They look for … An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers, Mental Toughness and Success in Sport: A Review and Prospect, A Qualitative Exploration of Choking in Elite Golf, Mental Toughness in Sport: Achievement Level, Gender, Age, Experience, and Sport Type Differences. Sense of personal responsibility for life circumstances and regulation of emotions. Not every strategy may help you, so take the Bruce Lee philosophy of learning on your search. You can become mentally stronger--and as a result more successful! Mentally tough people control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. One of the most critical elements to building mental toughness and keeping a strong and focused mind is having a strong “why” for all of your short and long-term goals.. I believe that someone who’s mentally tough has a combination of willpower, skill and resilience. The widespread use of the 4C model is due in large part to the efforts of its developers in extending its scope of application beyond sports and into the domains of education, business, and the military.  The 4C model also enjoys a prominent role in health psychology, where mental toughness is seen as an important moderator between stress and illness. People who are mentally tough develop good habits, and then they stick with them. Dr. Dave shares his expertise via blogging, individual coaching, team workshops, and speaking engagements. Being Mentally Well and Mentally Tough are not the same thing. A … In Webster’s Dictionary, mental is defined as relating to the mind. A mentally tough person is someone who is comfortable in their own skin, they take what comes in their stride and enjoy the challenge. What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? They have an “unshakeable” belief that they will ultimately succeed that is unperturbed by challenges, adversity, or even defeat. Here within this final section, let’s break down the DNA of mentally tough people. Being mentally tough isn’t about how smart, confident or motivated you are. Research shows that mentally tough children perform up to 25% better in exams. They know that fear of change is paralyzing and a major threat to their success and happiness. These are the strategies I teach.  In my next article, I will address this question by doing what I always do – looking at the evidence, if any exists, for training techniques designed to enhance mental toughness. Contact Kathy A. Feinstein a certified Sports Performance Consultant in Naples, Florida.  They have an “unshakeable” belief that they will ultimately succeed that is unperturbed by challenges, adversity, or even defeat. For example do mentally tough athletes exhibit more positive self-talk in comparison to less mentally tough athletes. There is an encouraging change taking place behind the scenes in elite sport around the world. To be mentally tough, you must have some degree of resilience, but not all resilient individuals are necessarily mentally tough. And it's a lot harder than it sounds. Strong internal drive to succeed and relentless pursuit of goals. In most sports the next play or the next move is the same no matter if it’s at practice or in the last few minutes of the championship game. In a sea of athletes who may be bigger, faster, and stronger than you, always seek out ways to be able to access your talent on a moments notice. Laurence Gonzales, author of SURVIVING SURVIVAL: The … Mentally tough people are flexible and are constantly adapting. This definition considers mental toughness as a constituent of the stress process, whereby the word “propensity” considers that mental toughness resid… According tough Clough and Earle, Mental Strength is first the capacity that an individual has to deal effectively with the stressors, challenges and pressure to present their best performance in spite of their circumstances (2012), and according to Clough & Strycharczyk, it is also part of the personality trait that contributes the large part of how an individual deal with stress, the pressures and challenges facing … Mentally tough people do not shy away from the spotlight. A person with mental toughness faces challenges directly and is effective in solving them.  Given that no consensus definition has been reached, the best we can do at this point is look at the overlap between the most widely used definitions. This 2-factor model can be reconciled with the 4C’s above if control and commitment are considered subfactors of resilience while confidence and challenge are subsumed under robust self-confidence, as in the graphic below: Thus, if remembering all 4 components of the 4C model exceeds your working memory capacity, you can simplify it down to only two! A mentally tough athlete treats practice and pre-season competitions with the same intensity as league and post-season games. The Strycharczyk and Clough definition of mental toughness, and the MTQ 4C’s framework that supports it, focuses on resilience and confidence and their related attributes that enable you to perform at your best, whatever the circumstances. In this article, I reviewed several attempts by researchers to bring scientific rigor to the mental toughness concept. Commitment: Strong internal drive to succeed and relentless pursuit of goals. “Able to access their talent...” An athlete who has all the talent and strength they need through weight training and conditioning, learning the technical aspects of their sport or position, and years of experience against great competition must be able to use all of that when the time comes. Being mentally and emotionally strong means that you can behave normally no matter how much stress is presented. Though the field of sport psychology is relatively new in comparison to traditional psychology, there are a few mental game strategies that have stood the test of time and brought much success to athletes before you. And this, in many ways, is the central idea of mental toughness – that it facilitates an adaptive rather than a maladaptive response to challenging circumstances. mentally definition: 1. connected with or related to the mind: 2. connected with or related to the mind: .  What emerges is a two-factor conceptualization in which, mental toughness is considered a combination of, Yet another important unsettled debate involves the proverbial nature-nurture question: Are some people just born with more mental toughness or is it something that can be developed through training? The result was their 4 C model of mental toughness: Control: Sense of personal responsibility for life circumstances and regulation of emotions. “...they are capable…” Your effort has nothing to do with the competition. Mental Toughness can be developed through training interventions, coaching and helping individuals adopting behaviour of mentally tough individuals, which ultimately maximises resilience and confidence in teams and organisations. Specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, This definition has been criticized for its emphasis on being “better than opponents” and thus describing a relative rather than an absolute notion of mental toughness.  Nevertheless, it set the stage for nearly two decades of research during which,  numerous alternative definitions have been put forward, each promising to be the one that unites the field. Â, One thing that all research groups seem to agree on is that mental toughness comprises a number of interrelated psychological factors that help an individualÂ, deal effectively with challenges, stressors, and pressure”Â,  a durable conviction in one’s ability to succeed,  an ability to recover quickly following adversity, defeat, or injury, In a 2017 review of 19 quantitative studies from 2007-2016 relating mental toughness to competitive standard, performance, and achievement, Richard Cowden found that the results collectivelyÂ, “support the commonly held belief that mentally tougher athletes tend to be more successful”, “88% of relevant studies found athletes with higher levels of mental toughness tend to achieve more or perform better.”, Qualitative studies have provided additional support for the role of mental toughness in performance, particularly during critical moments.  For example, choke-prone elite golfers identified, low mental toughness as an important feature of their choking episodesÂ, mental toughness not only reduces susceptibility to choking, but also increases the odds of recovering optimal performance after a choke has occurredÂ, romanticized ideal that reinforces the pathologically macho culture of competitive sportÂ, In this article, I reviewed several attempts by researchers to bring scientific rigor to the mental toughness concept.  Â, Confidence: Deeply ingrained belief in one’s ability and comfort asserting oneself interpersonally. Dr. Dave Schroerlucke is a mental performance expert helping individuals and teams develop the attitudes, habits, and mental skills that promote optimal performance, particularly within the context of competitive or high-stakes environments. It’s practice that takes work, but if … Specifically, let’s take a look at core beliefs, habits and the mindset that mentally tough people cultivate that helps them get through life’s toughest challenges. A mentally tough athlete treats practice and pre-season competitions with the same intensity as league and post-season games. The definition of grit almost perfectly describes qualities every successful person possesses, because mental toughness builds the foundations for long-term success. In their article titled What is this Thing Called Mental Toughness?, Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton (2002) aggregated input from 10 international-level athletes and came up with: “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.”, This definition has been criticized for its emphasis on being “better than opponents” and thus describing a relative rather than an absolute notion of mental toughness.  Nevertheless, it set the stage for nearly two decades of research during which numerous alternative definitions have been put forward, each promising to be the one that unites the field. Â.  Although each scale often comes with a persuasive discussion of the theoretical rationale for its development, none has achieved gold-standard status and all suffer from equivocal findings with respect to their psychometric properties (validity and reliability).  Accordingly, there is no real basis upon which to recommend one measure over any other. Mental toughness made its sports debut in the mid-1980s with the early work of Jim Loehr, who defined it rather loosely as “the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances.” Â. “...regardless of the situation.” A mentally tough athlete treats practice and pre-season competitions with the same intensity as league and post-season games. A mentally tough individual sees challenge and adversity as an opportunity and not a threat, and has the confidence and positive approach to take what comes in their stride (Strycharczyk, 2015).  They are able to identify and focus on the things that are under their control and don’t waste time worrying or complaining about things outside of their control. Mental Toughness describes the capacity of an individual to deal effectively with stressors, pressures and challenges, and perform to the best of their ability, irrespective of the circumstances in … Â. When speaking of mental toughness people utter words like dominant, stoic, unaffected, or robotic. Becoming mentally tough doesn’t happen overnight. Some psychologists have argued that a separate, sport-specific definitions of mental toughness should be developed. In most sports the next play or the next move is the same no matter if it’s at practice or in the last few minutes of the championship game. It’s good to practice any of these in your daily life, whenever you can. In this article, I aim to bring some conceptual clarity to this topic by reviewing the various ways that mental toughness has been defined and measured in the research literature.  I then weigh the empirical evidence on the question of whether mental toughness is useful as a predictive variable for high achievement. Differences have been hypothesized between male and female athletes, as well as between "team sport" and "individual sport" athletes, but to date, little empirical evidence has shown what these differences are. These are the things that people do to make sure that they toughen themselves up mentally. Mentally tough individuals tend to be sociable and outgoing; as they are able to remain calm and relaxed, they are competitive in many situations and have lower anxiety levels than others. Piggybacking off of the already well-established concept of “hardiness” (with its 3 components of control, challenge, and commitment), Clough and colleagues added a 4th component of confidence, which they felt was essential to the notion of mental toughness. Top-tier athletes know that mental toughness training is a part of their great athletic achievements. As a natural corollary to the conceptual confusion described above, measurement of the mental toughness construct has not been consistent across studies.  Given that no consensus definition has been reached, the best we can do at this point is look at the overlap between the most widely used definitions. Having become a sort of default explanation for any victory in challenging situations, mental toughness has been criticized as, “one of the most used but least understood terms in applied sport psychology”, Mental toughness made its sports debut in the mid-1980s with the early work of Jim Loehr, who defined it rather loosely as, “the ability to consistently perform towards the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances.”. But what exactly are they talking about?  What emerges is a two-factor conceptualization in which mental toughness is considered a combination of robust self-confidence and resilience.  But ask someone what they mean by mental toughness, and you are bound to hear a fuzzy description that might include just about any positive psychological attribute imaginable. For …  From an empirical perspective, this “everything but the kitchen sink” notion is problematic because it does not allow for standardization and scientific analysis. “...on a consistent basis…” Anyone can be great in a random chance moment. Mentally tough people have a quality called “sticktoitiveness” – a dogged perseverance in achieving the goals that they have set for themselves despite setbacks and occasional failures. The first scientifically grounded attempt at defining and measuring mental toughness was provided by Clough, Earle, and Sewell (2002). It is defined differently depending on who you ask. The widespread use of the 4C model is due in large part to the efforts of its developers in extending its scope of application beyond sports and into the domains of education, business, and the military. Â. The qualities of mentally strong people include compassion, caring and patience. Toughness is defined as strong and durable. “...at the highest level...” Whitey Bimstein, a long time boxer and trainer once said, “Show me an undefeated fighter and I'll show a guy who's never fought anybody.” His point was to show that an athlete should seek out the best competition even if that means losing once in a while. History is rife with championships being won on the last ditch effort of some one-hit wonder that only has that one situation to their name, then fades shortly after. Mental toughness is a core skill to have at hand when dealing with challenge and change in the working environment. Here are a few of them in chronological order: Eenie meenie miney mo… Take your pick. The Beliefs of a Mentally Tough … As a society we place too much emphasis on having no losses on our record. If you set out to achieve a huge goal that you don’t have a “why” for, you’re going to find yourself distracted, discouraged, or disengaged as soon as you experience your first setback. If you think of it as a metaphor, resilience would be the mountain, while mental toughness … He defines mental toughness as “an individual’s propensity to manage the demands of environmental stressors, ranging from an absolute resilience to extreme vulnerability” (Fletcher & Fletcher, 2005; p. 158; Fletcher, 2005; p. 1246). Many of these traits are highly sought after, however, they are often showcased to hide underlying feelings of fear, anxiety, or uncertainty. Mental toughness is located between factors of the HEXACO model, but much more squarely aligned with ambition in the HPI." Mentally tough people do not shy away from the spotlight. One could write volumes and volumes of how to become mentally tough. “Mental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to:Â, better than your opponents with the many demands (competition, training, lifestyle) that sport places on the performer. Â.  There are seemingly just as many measurement instruments floating around out there as there are definitions. They look at their failures and mistakes as lessons to be learned from and opportunities for growth. Coaches and sports commentators frequently espouse the importance of mental toughness in competitive athletes. Although the different research groups cannot see eye to eye on a definitive collection of factors, there is substantial overlap on at least a couple of factors.  These are: robust self-confidence: a durable conviction in one’s ability to succeed, resilience: an ability to recover quickly following adversity, defeat, or injury. The only difference is the audience. There is an old adage, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” You can only control three things as an athlete - your effort, your attitude, and your preparation. They sleep better, show better attendance, are more engaged in the classroom and have higher aspirations. If you are willing to suspend your (well-placed) skepticism for a moment and disregard the unstable foundation upon which mental toughness research rests, we can explore the evidence for whether it (whatever “it” is) can be considered a useful construct for predicting differences in performance.  We will discuss the quantitative (statistical) and qualitative (descriptive) evidence separately.Â, In a 2017 review of 19 quantitative studies from 2007-2016 relating mental toughness to competitive standard, performance, and achievement, Richard Cowden found that the results collectively “support the commonly held belief that mentally tougher athletes tend to be more successful” as “88% of relevant studies found athletes with higher levels of mental toughness tend to achieve more or perform better.”Â, Qualitative studies have provided additional support for the role of mental toughness in performance, particularly during critical moments.  For example, choke-prone elite golfers identified low mental toughness as an important feature of their choking episodes  (Hill et al, 2010) and four applied sport psychologists with experience at the elite level agreed that mental toughness not only reduces susceptibility to choking, but also increases the odds of recovering optimal performance after a choke has occurred (Hill et al, 2009), Although these results suggest that perhaps there is a there there when it comes to mental toughness research, the whole enterprise has come under attack as a biased social construct that reeks of elitism and stereotypical masculinity.  Several studies have indeed found significant differences across gender and competitive status – with more accomplished male athletes tending to rate higher in mental toughness .  Some critics have gone as far as to argue that mental toughness is nothing more than a romanticized ideal that reinforces the pathologically macho culture of competitive sport (see Caddick & Ryall, 2012). Â. “Mentally tough” has become the go-to phrase to describe the successful athlete or performer. It's called “Jeet Kune Do” and it states: “Adapt what is useful, reject what is not, and add what is specifically your own.”. Â, In my next article, I will address this question by doing what I always do –. Yet another important unsettled debate involves the proverbial nature-nurture question: Are some people just born with more mental toughness or is it something that can be developed through training? When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. Mentally tough people don’t let the thoughts and opinions of others define the way they experience situations; instead, they let themselves be the judge of how they feel and how they act. The ability to remain calm, cool and collected no matter how much stress presented! See that ability continue to grow qualities of mentally tough athlete treats practice and pre-season with! Clough, Earle, and learn from mistakes and failures the world of! 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