Mental toughness is more than just mental. It’s also:
In order to be mentally tough you:
- Must have talent
- Be in peak physical condition
- Your technical skills have to be sharp
Mental toughness acquires you to:
- Recognize that the physical, emotional and mental sides of your self
affect each other
- Mental toughness training allows players to tap into emotional and mental resources that keep play at its prime as often and consistently as possible
Jim Loehr (1993) is a noted sport psychologist who has worked with many top athletes over the last twenty years. He suggests the following definition for toughness: “Toughness is the ability to consistently perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of competitive circumstances”. Toughness is not about having a “killer instinct” or being mean or cold. Loehr describes four emotional markers of mental toughness.
1) Emotional Flexibility – The ability to handle different situations in a balanced or non-defensive manner. Emotional flexibility also speaks to the skill of drawing on a wide range of positive emotions – humor, fighting spirit, pleasure.
2) Emotional Responsiveness – You are emotionally engaged in the competitive situation, not withdrawn.
3) Emotional Strength – The ability to handle great emotional force and sustain your fighting spirit no matter what the circumstances.
4) Emotional Resiliency – Being able to handle setbacks and recovering quickly from them.
Like other aspects of mental toughness, these skills can be learned. For some players it comes more easily than for others. The use of thinking skills, imagery, confidence building and other skills can be powerful techniques in enhancing mental toughness.
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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.