Athletes across a board spectrum often point to mental toughness as being a key indicator of success in their chosen sport, from weekend warriors, to professionals, to the elite of the elite.
This article series will seek to shed light on the following questions;
- what is mental toughness?
- is mental toughness something we are born with? Or can it be developed much like other athletic skills?
- does mental toughness require regular “strength training sessions” such as other forms of toughness?
After extensive research conducted by Amercian Psychologists, Graham Jones, Sheldon Hanton, and Declan Connaughton the following definition of mental toughness was developed;
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 a performer; specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure.” (Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton, 2002, p. 209).
This gives us a working definition of what mental toughness is. Interestingly enough, the researchers state that mental toughness can be both “natural or developed”.
These same researchers later established 12 characteristic traits that make up mental toughness. These 12 attributes cover such topics as self-belief, desire/motivation, dealing with pressure and anxiety, focus (performance-related), focus (lifestyle-related), and pain/hardship factors (Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton, 2002, p. 209).
Something to keep in mind, mental toughness is something that should encompass all areas of your athletic development, from the training phase to the competition floor, and especially upon post-competition. Mental toughness is NOT something we should wait until game time to account for.
Just as you prepare your body to compete physically, you must also train the mind for battle. Every time you practice should be with a championship in mind.
Athlete or not, we can all use these tips to help reach the top of our chosen endeavor. Whether our competition is in the boardroom, classroom, on stage at the Arnold, or CrossFit Games floors preparing mentally is the skill that will separate you from the pack.
Physical skills can only be trained so hard, pushed so far, developed so much; mental toughness, however, is limitless.
Interested in stepping up your mental game? Take the next step toward.