The purpose of this article is to promote the use of mental toughness within football. Mental toughness is an important concept that coaches and players should engage during training and matches. Enhanced mental toughness increases the chance of consistent success. There are identifiable characteristics that relate to mental toughness within football (see table below).
Mental Toughness Characteristic
|Desire||Have the inner desire to succeed|
|Commitment||The ability to train hard and continue to train when others may have completed training|
|Task Orientation||To develop short & sharp tasks to complete during training and games|
|Attention to detail||Be prepared mentally, physically and in relation to technique|
|Ability to bounce back from adversity||Overcome defeat or personal drawback to enable future opportunity for success|
|Consistency||Provide consistency in training and game situations to increase chance of success|
|Motivation||To reach goals that are both intrinsic and extrinsic|
|Confidence||Increase confidence levels through use of appropriate mental/psychological skills|
|Responsiveness||To demands placed by management/opposition in both training and game situations|
|Progressive||Appreciate how progress has been made|
|Determination||The ability to be determined when attempting to achieve set goals|
|Leadership||Provide strong leadership that relate to becoming a role model|
|Organised||Be organised in preparation for training and matches|
|Dedication||Related to performance levels during training and matches|
|Resilience||Continue to attempt task goals irrespective of outcome in order to become more resilient|
|Composure||Be composed under pressure|
|Control||Control is important and can be maintained through the practise of mental/psychological skills|
|Flexibility||Allows opportunities to develop positive mind-set in performance|
|Strong||Being and remaining strong during both successful and unsuccessful situations|
Becoming mentally though is an evolving process and to achieve these states the footballer must be capable of reflecting on their performance levels and using practise time to continuously improve skills levels. To make mental toughness effective it is also proposed that the footballer sets continuous process and performance related goals.
To enable progressive and enhanced mental toughness it is advised that the following strategies are also incorporated:
In summary, mental toughness is an important attribute that can lead to successful performance. Mental toughness can be utilised at all levels of performance and is not solely for elite performers. In addition, mental toughness can be trained through continuous practice and should form part of all programme routines. It is imperative that strategies should be incorporated to enhance mental toughness and reflective practice should provide unique opportunities to further enhance mental toughness. The information above should allow players to maintain balance and control within the mind. These strategies will support both physiological and mental states.