chapter  57
10 Pages

Mental toughness

ByDaniel F. Gucciardi, Clifford J. Mallett

Researchers and practitioners have long considered psychological factors as essential ingredients for performance excellence and well-being across a number of settings. Athletes and coaches commonly describe an athlete’s “mental game” as one of the key distinctions between good and great athletes. Mental toughness is the umbrella term that coaches, athletes, sport psychologists, and the media use when referring to the constellation of psychological factors that appear to discriminate good and great athletes. Although once considered a little-understood construct, the knowledge base contributing to current conceptualizations of mental toughness now has some scientific rigor owing to the efforts of several groups of researchers. Researchers have studied the perceptions of athletes and coaches from a variety of team (e.g., rugby union, netball, football) and individual sports (e.g., swimming, triathlon, boxing) in an attempt to identify the make-up of mentally tough performers. Recent investigations have adopted a context-specific approach in which mental toughness is examined within a single sport (e.g., cricket, soccer) to provide a context-rich understanding of this construct (for a review, see Gucciardi, Gordon, & Dimmock, 2009a).