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:

  • Positive Self-talk
  • Imagery
  • Concentration and Focus Training
  • Relaxation Training
  • Reflection

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.

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