Elite athletes possess characteristics that resonate closely to mental toughness. Arguably, Usain Bolt epitomises mental toughness that has acquainted him with success.
Key characteristics of mental toughness include:
1) Ability to cope under pressure
Pressure in sport must be enjoyed and undoubtedly Usain Bolt loves pressure. Athletes who enjoy pressure have an ability to cope much better with competitive demands. The 100m Final is the Premier Event in the Olympics and carries with it immense pressure. The intensity of this pressure is what makes Usain Bolt a champion because he thrives on its very purpose.
Desire must evolve from within, is built over time and increases closer to competition. Training hard to develop perfectionism leads to increased desire. The 100m Final is what I would term the ‘Rainbow Effect,’ the final act in what is a four-year gap. In other words, elite athletes build this desire concurrently over time and train rigorously to compete in an event that lasts less than 10 seconds.
Self-confidence is a characteristic that elite athletes must possess. Although self-confidence can fluctuate, elite athletes seem to have abundance amounts and recover quickly from setbacks. Usain Bolt has enhanced levels of self-confidence and will maintain these levels consistently owing to in built self-belief.
Motivation comes in two forms, intrinsic and extrinsic. Becoming a legend is a great motive for elite athletes. Usain Bolt will want to repeat his Gold medal success in Rio 2016. To achieve this goal, Usain Bolt will be setting targets that concentrate on specific goals associated to technique, physical, process, performance and outcome.
Resilience is a formed characteristic that elite athletes require to combat competitive demands. A famous statement reads, ‘getting to the top is easy, staying there is difficult.’ Usain Bolt builds his resilience from continued achievement of positive results and coping with being the fastest man in the world.
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About Gobinder Gill
Gobinder is a lecturer in Sport Psychology and Research Methods at Birmingham Metropolitan College in the West Midlands.