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Mental toughness research: Key issues in this area

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Abstract

This report reflects on the man books and articles which describe and attempt to understand mental toughness. In doing so, the authors sought to (a) raise awareness of the key conceptual and methodological issues, and (b) stimulate research activity in this area. Populist texts, anecdotal evidence, and personal accounts have defined mental toughness as a personality trait, a decisive factor accounting for successful performance, and a defense mechanism against adversity. These accounts have resulted in a vast array of terms and positive psychological characteristics being associated with mental toughness which have contributed to the inconsistency and ambiguity in the literature. Methodological issues have also added to the confusion surrounding the overall understanding of mental toughness. Recent studies which have tried to address the concept of mental toughness in a more scientific manner are discussed.
... MT is a concept embedded in a multidimensional framework including personal characteristics, and several conceptual models have been proposed (3,30). MT is important for success in sport due to its cognitive, affective and behavioural components (3,6,8,12,17,37 ratings) were also given (e.g., the weightlifters were not told that the questionnaire was assessing MT only, they were told that it was a measure of "personal styles in competition" basically). ...
... 7. I may keep a copy of the participant consent form for my own records. 8. I agree that research data gathered for the study may be published provided that my name or other identifying information are not used. ...
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Mental Toughness (MT) is a crucial factor for super-elite athletes "Olympians", since differences in physical and technical competences are minimal at the professional level. A sample of 28 Egyptian male weightlifters (14 elite & 14 non-elite) and 11 female (9 elite & 9 non-elite) were selected to study the differences between the Egyptian elite and non-elite weightlifters. Also determine of the relationship between MT and the level of achievement was targeted. Participants completed the Mental Toughness Questionnaire (MTQ) evaluating an individual's competitive desire, focus, self-confidence, and resiliency (4 subscales). T-test and Pearson correlation coefficient were used for data analysis. MT of elite was significant than non-elite weightlifters (p < 0.05, 2-tailed). Subscales associated with MT were also significant at elite. Focus and competitive desire were the most important psychological attributes characterizing the elite male weightlifters, while resilience and focus were at elite female. The correlation between MT and the achievement level was r =0.974 ** (p < 0.01, 2-tailed). MT represents a condition for developing the achievement level. It is recommended that sport psychologists should help Egyptian elite weightlifters to develop and refine their MT to enter "high mental toughness range", assisting with the formal integration of psychological training into physical training. As such, this integration may facilitate the effective transfer of mental skills into competition, which can help Egyptian weightlifters to achieve better results in great competitions (e.g., Olympic Games).
... It has been a matter of curiosity by athletes, coaches, sports commentators, and sports psychologists why certain athletes are the world's best in their field. 1 Despite having the right technique, the right exercises, the right meals and the right equipment, it has been stated that psychological factors are an important element that helps the athlete to perform better. When examined scientifically, the differences in the athlete's performance were found to be associated with mental toughness. ...
... 6 Motivational climate, family and peers of the athlete, intrinsic motivation and sport-specific life experiences are important for the athlete's success in the long-term development of mental toughness. 1 This highlights the fact that developing mental toughness requires an appropriate motivational climate. Once mental toughness is developed, an internalized desire for success and motivation are needed to maintain this structure. ...
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Background: It has been a matter of curiosity by athletes, coaches, sports commentators, and sports psychologists why certain athletes are the world's best in their field. Aim: In our study, the mental toughness and motivational climates of licensed basketball players were examined according to age and gender variables. Methods: In this study, the relational screening model was used to determine the relationship between mental toughness and motivational climate in licensed basketball players studying in physical education and sports teaching departments. Results: As a result of this study, where mental toughness and motivational climate, which are known to be necessary to maintain the ideal performance level during competition, are evaluated according to age and gender variables, it is seen that the motivational climate and mental toughness scores do not differ according to the gender of the athletes. Conclusion: As a result of this study, where mental toughness and motivational climate, which are known to be necessary to maintain the ideal performance level during competition, are evaluated according to age and gender variables, it is seen that the motivational climate and mental toughness scores do not differ according to the gender of the athletes. Keywords: Mastery Climate, Performance Climate, Mental Toughness, Age, Gender
... This approach has resulted in the creation of the 6 Cs model of MT. Despite MTQ48's wide application has been the subject of some criticism [19], the results of the analyses did not corroborate the principle of the four-and six-factor approach, although Gucciardi, Hanton [15] insisted on the necessity to re-examine the MTQ48 with a broader membership. In addition, a recent statement in response to his article noted that he did not have a complete review of the literature, did not recognize the shortcomings of the confirmatory factor analysis CFA, and used irrelevant samples. ...
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The use of structural equation models (SEM) in scientific research perform a promising methodological and empirical direction to validate the measurement of psychological constructs. The aim of this paper is to validate the measurement of mental toughness of athletes and non-athletes with SEM. The sample consisted of 853 Tunisian participants (444 males and 409 females; 409 athletes and 444 non-athletes), aged 14 to 27 years (M=20.38 SD=4.12). The sample completed the Arabic translated questionnaire of Clough, Earle [1] which measures six components of their mental toughness. The SEM approved a good model fit (χ ² =1146.33; df =1065; CFI=.93; SRMR=.063; RMSEA=.009) which allows for a valid Arabic-speaking measure of the six components of mental toughness.
... Cowden (2016) conducted a study on MT and tennis, and found that MT may contribute to successful tennis performance and in a study with adolescent volleyball players, the research of Raudsepp and Vink (2018) indicated a positive association between MT and sport-specific practice. It is globally recognised that MT contributes to success in all sport (Connaughton et al., 2008) and serves as a catalyst in maintaining emotional, behavioural, and cognitive control (Jones et al., 2007). In view of the literature emphasising the importance of MT in a sport environment, the MT of professional South African rugby players must receive continual attention and be highlighted as a top priority. ...
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This study explores the relationship between common mental disorders and mental toughness in professional South African rugby players. A cross-sectional survey design was used by administering a questionnaire and preliminary and bivariate analyses were conducted. The inclusion criteria were professional rugby players who are able to communicate in English. The results indicated that, in general, these players (N = 215) portray significant mental toughness (M = 5.69) on a 7-point scale. Anxiety/depression and distress measured the lowest (M = 1.65) of all the common mental disorders measured in this study. Furthermore, the results indicated a positive relationship between mental toughness and sound sleep (r = .262). Negative relationships were found between mental toughness and all other common mental disorders with the highest relationship being with anxiety/depression positive 2 (r =-.423). Other significant relationships were found with anxiety/ depression (r =-.401), distress (r =-.259), and common mental disorders problems in general (r =-.220). The results indicated that the management of teams and clinicians need to look at specific aspects, such as alcohol consumption among players, the implications of alcohol use on performance, but also mental wellbeing in general.
... These results align with Dweck's (2006) growth mindset, theorising that some students will rebound after setbacks and that self-belief will motivate students to exert extra time and effort to accomplish higher achievement. Goldberg (1998 cited in Connaughton, Hanton, Jones & Wadey, 2008) describes this determination as "mental toughness … the ability to stand tall in the face of adversity … time and time again" (p. 193). ...
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Personal characteristics contributing to success in higher education has become an important area of focus in recent years. Duckworth’s (2007) grit framework shows positive correlations with a range of academic outcomes. This article explores the characteristics of grit in a study of female students who identified as mothers during their enrolment in an enabling program at CQUniversity Australia. Data was gathered from 284 participants and findings suggest that despite mothers facing competing challenges that conflict with study; demonstrating grit-ability is what enables success. The courage to begin; conscientious determination to achieve; resilience to overcome obstacles; endurance to persist; and striving for excellence were identified as key contributors to positive academic outcomes and personal fulfilment. Framework Methodology underpinned this thematic analysis using the grit terms of reference to examine survey responses. These findings highlight the relevance of grit as desirable student characteristics for experiencing success in enabling education.
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The rapid increase of poverty, crime, and unemployment in South Africa results in youth vulnerability. Youth not in employment, not in education, and not in training are most vulnerable to life setbacks, find it difficult dealing with criticism, rejection, and failure. Thus, youth workers responsible for the coordination of youth service programme need to design an autonomy-supportive programme that can prepare youth mentally before youth are placed in a youth development programme that seeks to enhance youth employability. The National Youth Development Agency in South Africa under the National Youth Service Programme has developed a mental toughness programme curriculum that NYS volunteers undergo before participating in youth skill development programme or community service programme for a minimum of five days. The aim of the study is to explore the impact of the Mental Toughness Programme on the positive development of youth through youth lived experience in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. This study made use of a qualitative research approach, non-probability sampling to sample eight youth who participated in the Mental Toughness Programme offered by the National Youth Development Agency. In this study, we recommend that the National Youth Development Agency knowledge and research division should conduct a longitudinal study that can evaluate the impact of the Mental Toughness Programme on positive youth development in South Africa. The National Youth Development Agency should revise the mental toughness programme curriculum in a way that the programme goes beyond five days and physical toughness should be cooperated in the curriculum to enhance social cohesion. Received: 27 July 2021 / Accepted: 6 October 2021 / Published: 3 January 2022
Thesis
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Historically, mind studies have been separated from those carried out on the brain and behavior; the mind was still an abstract concept. However, later on, neurosciences and sports psychology have gone further and created a new discipline: sports neurosciences, aimed at exploring the physical and mental confines of an athlete and make them grow more and more. Neurosciences can, therefore, help bring closer psychological and biological areas, cognitive and mechanical structures. Several researches have been done on activation in situations under pressure, imagery (in hypnosis) and electroencephalogram (EEG); however, there is an obvious lack of studies that analyze how to monitor mental training on activation in situations under pressure by means of EEG, both in the office and on the field. Consequently, the objective of the present thesis is to monitor mental training on activation during a neutral situation and in a situation under pressure, by analyzing the heart rate, brainwaves and subjective registrations in athletes with and without previous imagery experience. The pilot test analyzed the heart rate behavior in the activation of 7 athletes during imagery of under-pressure situations. In it, there was an increase in the heart rate in the situations under pressure, which was experienced, mainly, at the moment of highest pressure. From Study 1-A and 1-B neutral situation imagery (tennis service) was compared with imagery of under-pressure situations on 16 tennis players. On the one hand, in Study 1-A the activation during imagery of a neutral situation was monitored through the analysis of the heart rate, brainwaves and subjective registrations of tennis players with and without prior experience in imagery; on the other hand, in Study 1-B activation during imagery was also monitored, although this time in a situation under pressure (tennis match). Results show that imageries from both neutral and under-pressure situations increased the heart rate, especially on those subjects with imagery experience; being this increase higher in the case of imagery of situations under pressure and finding its highest point at the moment of maximum pressure of the imagery: interval 5-6. Regarding brainwaves, imagery of both neutral and under-pressure situations (either by intervals, hemispheres, zones or channels) led to a decrease in the gamma wave activity, both in tennis players with previous experience in imagery and without. In the case of Study 1- B, an increase of the gamma wave was also observed in interval 5-6, which corresponds to the moment of maximum pressure. Regarding entropy, in Study 1-A it was lower in the neutral situation imagery, both in those with imagery experience and without; while in Study 1-B, the approximate and sample entropies were higher in the imagery of the situation under pressure in those without imagery experience. With regards to the subjective registrations, in psychological abilities (activation, self-confidence, motivation and concentration) of Studies 1-A and 1-B there were no significant differences between pre and post neither between before, during and after, except in Study 1-B between pre and post for the activation at during with a significance level of 10%. Regarding the reality of imagery, in Study 1-A the most real dimensions, from highest to lowest, were kinesthetic, visual, emotional, tactile and auditory (score from 3 to 5). Those that were more difficult to be perceived as real and to be aware of were the gustatory and olfactory ones in Study 1-A and only the olfactory in 1-B. In Studies 2-A and 2-B mental training on activation during imagery of an under-pressure situation was monitored through a protocol with and without mental training carried out in the office (Study 2-A) and on the court (Study 2-B) based on the analysis of the heart rate, brainwaves and subjective registrations in a tennis player with high imagery experience in order to be able to see how activation developed, session by session, through the mental training carried out. Results show that both in the office (Study 2-A) and on the court (Study 2-B) the tennis player’s heart rate increased in the imagery of the situation under pressure (I.3-8), being higher in the office and in Protocol 2. It decreased in the mental techniques application imagery (I.8-13) in Protocol 2, being also greater in the office; it decreased further in the final breathing attention (I.13-f), being higher in the office and in Protocol 1. In the case of brainwaves, the beta wave increased in the imagery of the situation under pressure (I.3-8), both in the office and on the court, being higher in the office in Protocol 1 and on the court in Protocol 2. Also, gamma, theta and delta waves increased in Protocol 2 on the court. Beta, gamma, delta and theta waves decreased in the mental techniques application imagery (I.8-13), both in the office and on the court, being higher on the court, except for the gamma wave, which was higher in the office. Alpha and beta waves increased in the final breathing attention (I.13-f), both in the office and on the court, being higher in the office in Protocol 2. Regarding entropy (approximate entropy and sample), it decreased in the imagery of the situation under pressure (I.3-8), both in the office and on the court and both in Protocol 1 and 2, being higher on the court and in Protocol 2. It increased in the mental techniques application imagery (I.8-13) in the office as well as on the court, being higher on the court. It also increased in the final breathing attention (I.13-f), both in the office and on the court, being higher in the office in both protocols but markedly in Protocol 2. Regarding subjective registrations, the tennis player managed to feel the pressure in the imagery of the situation under pressure both in the office and on the court before, during and after between points (highest pressure moment), being higher in Protocol 2. In the mental techniques application imagery he regulated the activation to feel it at an optimal level (7), although he found it more difficult on the court. All imageries were realized with great reality in all dimensions (visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, kinesthetic and emotional), being the olfactory dimension more difficult to feel in the situation under pressure in the office for both Protocols, and on the court in Protocol 2, and the gustatory one on the court and in Protocol 2. Unexpectedly, it was also more difficult to feel the auditory one in the office in Protocol 1. In the mental techniques application imagery, the gustatory dimension was more difficult to feel both in the office (Study 2-A) and on the court (Study 2-B) and also, unexpectedly, the auditory one on the court. Therefore, the thesis results reflect the importance of monitoring the mental training of activation in situations under pressure; data of great use to improve neutral and under- pressure imagery and mental training in order to help athletes work on their activation. It is also useful to create neurofeedback protocols to increase the ability to perform imagery in athletes with both high and low experience and thus improve their mental training and self-awareness of under-pressure situations in their lives, what causes them, how they experience them and what they must do to deal with them.
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This study tested the effects of individual and group-level characteristics on performance during a mandatory and challenging physical education course at the United States Military Academy (USMA). We focused on attributes related to mental toughness, and examined both self-report and utilized an other-rating scale that measures mental toughness-related characteristics and is important to USMA generally. We examined course scores for 5,581 first-year students over five academic years, accounted for background physical fitness, and determined how mental toughness attributes at the group and individual-level contributed to overall course score and scores on constituent events (e.g. obstacle course, rope climbing). Self-reported optimism, self-reported resilience, and mental toughness items from a peer rating scale, but not self-reported grit, significantly improved course performance. The average score across class section on optimism or the peer rating scale also positively covaried with course score, over and above the individual-level impact of that attribute. Analyses of individual events demonstrated that “group-level character” was important for some events, whereas individual attributes were most important for others. Findings suggested an emergent group character capable of influencing individual physical performance scores. Being a member of a tough group may have comparable effects to individual mental toughness.
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Bu çalışmanın temel amacı; spor bilimleri fakültesindeki sporcu öğrencilerin kendinle konuşma ve zihinsel dayanıklılık düzeyleri arasındaki ilişkinin incelemesidir. Çalışmaya Akdeniz ve Gazi Üniversitelerinin Spor Bilimleri Fakültelerinde öğrenim görmekte olan rastgele yöntemle seçilmiş 198 sporcu öğrenci katılmıştır. Katılımcıların 86’sı kadın (%43,4), 112’si erkektir (%56,6). Araştırma kapsamında veriler, araştırmacılar tarafından hazırlanan Kişisel Bilgi Formu, Sporda Zihinsel Dayanıklılık Envanteri (SZDE) ve Kendinle Konuşma Envanteri (KKE) ile toplanmıştır. SZDE, Sheard, Golby ve Van Wersch (2009) tarafından geliştirilmiş ve Türkçe uyarlaması Altıntaş (2015) tarafından yapılmıştır. KKE ise Zervas, Stavrouve Psychountaki (2007) tarafından geliştirilmiş ve Türkçe uyarlaması Engür (2011) tarafından yapılmıştır. Elde edilen verilerin analizinde betimsel istatistik yöntemleri kullanılmıştır. Kendinle konuşma alt boyutları olan motivasyonel kendinle konuşma ve bilişsel kendinle konuşmanın, zihinsel dayanıklılık alt boyutlarından, güven alt boyutu, devamlılık alt boyutu ve kontrol alt boyutlarının birer yordayıcısı olup olmadığı çoklu regresyon analizi (aşamalı) ile test edilmiştir. Zihinsel dayanıklılık ile kendinle konuşma alt boyutları arasındaki ilişki ise Pearson korelasyon analizi ile değerlendirilmiştir. Yapılan analizler de anlamlılık düzeyi p< 0.05 olarak kabul edilmiş ve analizler de SPSS 25.0 paket programı kullanılmıştır. Araştırma sonucunda, motivasyonel kendinle konuşma altboyutu ile zihinsel dayanıklılık düzeyi arasında pozitif yönlü zayıf bir ilişki, bilişsel kendinle konuşma altboyutu ile zihinsel dayanıklılık düzeyi arasında ise pozitif yönlü orta şiddetli bir ilişki saptanmıştır. Ayrıca motivasyonel kendinle konuşma alt boyutunun zihinsel dayanıklılığın devamlılık alt boyutuna, bilişsel kendinle konuşma alt boyutunun ise zihinsel dayanıklılığın güven alt boyutuna etkisinin manidar olduğu tespit edilmiştir.
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Studied personality as a conditioner of the effects of stressful life events on illness onset. Two groups of middle- and upper-level 40-49 yr old executives had comparably high degrees of stressful life events in the previous 3 yrs, as measured by the Schedule of Recent Events. One group of 86 Ss suffered high stress without falling ill, whereas the other group of 75 Ss reported becoming sick after their encounter with stressful life events. Illness was measured by the Seriousness of Illness Survey (A. R. Wyler et al 1970). Discriminant function analysis, run on half of the Ss in each group and cross-validated on the remaining cases, supported the prediction that high stress/low illness executives show, by comparison with high stress/high illness executives, more hardiness, that is, have a stronger commitment to self, an attitude of vigorousness toward the environment, a sense of meaningfulness, and an internal locus of control. (43 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).
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