When preparing for a race, a competition or just everyday exercise, mental preparation plays a vital role in the training process. Mental toughness is the psychological edge that an athlete uses to cope with the demands of training and performances at an event. It allows the athlete to remain consistent, determined, focused, confident and in control under the pressures that they face.
Athletes who are considered mentally tough exhibit signs of:
• Composure under pressure
Research suggests that working on a mental strength training program such as goal setting, visualization, relaxation, concentration and thought-stopping skills can lead to improvements in performance and self rated mental toughness (Crust, Azadi).
Mental toughness allows athletes to avoid distractions and stay calm under pressure. Although some athletes will naturally be stronger in this area, all athletes can improve this skill. Other athletes may not be as mentally tough but given the
right sets of tools and situations they can vastly improve, just like any skill. It plays such a big role that athletes without the right mind set when performing under pressure can
have a negative result compared to their performances during training
Having the best physical skills on the field is not enough on it's own. For athletes that want to gain that competitive edge, it's essential to exercise your mind as well.
References from the SIRC Collection:
1. CRUST L, AZADI K. Mental toughness and athletes' use of psychological strategies. European Journal Of Sport Science. January 2010;10(1):43-51.
2. Gordon S. Strengths-based approaches to developing mental toughness: Team and individual. International Coaching Psychology Review. September 2012;7(2):210-222.
3. Ritz N. The Effects of Mental Preparation for Distance Runners. Marathon & Beyond. March 2012;16(2):120-130.
4. Sullivan J, Murphy B. Sweat Is Not Enough: Mental Preparation for Better Running on Race Day. Marathon & Beyond. September 2008;12(5):41-44.
5. Weinberg R, Butt J, Culp B. Coaches' views of mental toughness and how it is built. International Journal Of Sport & Exercise Psychology. June 2011;9(2):156-172.