What strategies do athletes use to increase mental toughness?

In this study, we assessed the relationship between mental toughness and athletes’ use of psychological performance strategies. Sixty-seven male (mean age 22.6 years, s=5.0) and 40 female (mean age 21.1 years, s=2.8) athletes, who competed at club/university to national standard in a variety of sports, participated in the study. Participants completed the MTQ48 (Clough et al., 2002) to measure mental toughness, and the Test of Performance Strategies (TOPS; Thomas et al., 1999) to measure the use of psychological strategies in practice and competition. Results of Pearson correlations and linear regression analyses revealed that self-talk, emotional control, and relaxation strategies were significantly and positively (r=0.26 to 0.37, P<0.01) related to mental toughness in both practice and competition. Of the MTQ48 subscales, commitment was found to load most frequently against performance strategies and thus it is possible that the results of this study reflect highly committed performers seeking performance enhancement strategies. Consistent with theoretical predictions, athletes of county standard and above reported significantly higher mental toughness than club/university athletes (t 105=-2.25, P=0.03).

Source: “Mental toughness and athletes’ use of psychological strategies” from European Journal of Sport Science, Volume 10, Issue 1 January 2010 , pages 43 – 51

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