What it takes: Perceptions of mental toughness and its development in an English Premier League soccer academy
Cook, C., Crust, L., Nesti, M., Littlewood, M., & Allen-Collinson, J.
This paper included interviews with key staff working in player development at one of the most successful Premier League soccer teams. Four general dimensions emerged as salient to mental toughness: competitiveness with self and others, mindset, resilience and personal responsibility. Coaches sought to foster in the young players two key characteristics: independence and resourcefulness, via a challenging but supportive learning environment. In comparison to skill development, it was reported that the psychological development of young players was inadequately addressed. Although mental toughness was acknowledged to be a crucial factor in securing a professional contract in the EPL, coaches reported a relative lack of knowledge about effectively nurturing this quality in players.
A phenomenological exploration of exercise mental toughness: perceptions of exercise leaders and regular exercisers
Crust, L., Swann, C, Allen-Collinson, J., Breckon, J., & Weinberg, R.
This qualitative study reported the results of interviews with seven mentally tough exercisers and seven mentally tough exercise leaders. The reported findings identified that mental toughness was visible in exercise settings the associated cognitions and behaviours were found to be relatively consistent with those reported in elite sport contexts. Some negative consequences of mental toughness were noted such as training through injuries and risking more serious injury as a result.
Identifying the Cognitive Basis of Mental Toughness
Crust, L., Dewhurst, S., Anderson, R., Cotter, G. and Clough, P.
This laboratory-based study aimed to understand the cognitive mechanisms that underpin mental toughness. The results support the view that mentally tough individuals don’t allow past or previously learnt information to interfere with current tasks – in this case remembering lists of words. This finding could also explain how mentally tough sports people are able to forget previous mistakes and move on.
Developing Mental Toughness: from Research to Practice
Crust, L. and Clough, P.
This paper provides a review of relevant research on psychological talent development in sport but specifically focuses on the important construct of mental toughness. Numerous key strategies are discussed but the overall message is that sports participants need to be gradually exposed to increasingly challenging situations (rather than shielded from them) and that setbacks and failure are important learning opportunities.
The Relationship Between Mental Toughness and Dispositional Flow
Crust, L. and Swann, C.
Previous researchers have argued that relationships between flow (also known as being in the zone) and personality have been largely overlooked. It is possible that because of their own traits or dispositions that some people are more likely to experience flow than others. On this basis, using a questionnaire-based approach, we examined relationships between mental toughness and flow, finding significant and positive relationships between the two. Given these findings it is possible that developing mental toughness in sports people could actually facilitate more frequent experiences of flow, although this needs to be established through further research.
Comparing Two Measures of Mental Toughness
Crust, L. and Swann, C.
Numerous psychometric measures of mental toughness have been produced, although most of these are open to criticism based upon conceptual and psychometric analyses. In this work we compared two of the most popular measures, the MTQ48 and the SMTQ, using the Multitrait-Multimethod approach. Correlations between similar mental toughness subscales were found to be positive and significant but somewhat lower than expected. Results suggest instrument subscales with similar labels are not measuring the same components of mental toughness.
Mental Toughness, Coping Self-Efficacy and Coping Effectiveness Among Athletes
Nicholls, A., Levy, A., Polman, R. and Crust, L.
This work looked to test for relationships between mental toughness, coping self-efficacy and coping effectiveness in a sample of athletes. The questionnaire-based approach was the first to establish that mental toughness is associated with more effective coping.
Mental Toughness and Attitudes to Risk-Taking
Crust, L. and Keegan, R.
This study used questionnaires to establish relationships between mental toughness and attitudes to risk-taking. Numerous previous theorists had suggested that mentally tough athletes were risk-takers although this has not been established through research evidence. Pearson Product Moment Correlations found significant and positive correlations between overall mental toughness and attitudes towards physical risks, but no relationship with psychological risk. The mental toughness subscales of challenge, commitment, and confidence in abilities were all significantly and positively related to attitudes towards physical risk.
Mental Toughness and Coping in an Ultra-Endurance Event
Crust, L., Nesti, M. and Bond, K..
This innovative qualitative study used “in-situ” interviews and a post-event focus-group to establish how non-elite competitors coped during a 24-hour, 100km walking event. Additionally, the walkers were asked to describe what their view of mental toughness were in relation to the requirements of the walk. Participants described mental toughness in language that closely alligned to the 4C’s model of mental toughness proposed by Clough et al. (2002).