An Analysis of the Components of Mental Toughness in Sport
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Many coaches are becoming aware of the importance of developing mentally tough performers and are designing programs to develop it in their athletes. One of the most significant problems in designing these programs is the inconsistency in the definition and description of mental toughness. If programs are to be designed with the goal of developing mental toughness in athletes, the components of the construct must be identified.
Based on the advantages that mental toughness can offer to the performer, this study was designed to develop an understanding of the components of mental toughness in sport. The purpose of this study was to identify the components of mental toughness as perceived by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coaches and was guided by two fundamental questions: what are the essential components of mental toughness? and to what degree are these components teachable (trainable).
Twenty-two NCAA coaches were selected to participate from a mix of Division I, II, and III male sports teams. The procedures for this study were divided into a two-phase approach. Phase One consisted of each participant completing a questionnaire for the purpose of evaluating the importance and teachability (trainability) of 20 separate components of mental toughness. Phase Two consisted of follow-up, semi-structured interviews that provided further insight into the perspectives of the participants.
The results of this study indicated the essential components of mental toughness based on their importance to the construct. The results also indicated the degree of teachability (trainability) of each component. A unique relationship between teachability and trainability was also revealed in this study. These findings provide a better understanding of the components of mental toughness and support the need for its development in sport.