Sports Psychology and Mental Toughness


One aspect of sports psychology which we hear about alot is mental toughness, but what is it and how can it be attained. A fantastic article on shares alot of information like:

What do we mean by mental toughness?

  • achieve relatively consistent performances regardless of situational factors;
  • retain a confident, positive, optimistic outlook, even when things are not going well, and not ‘choke’ under pressure;
  • deal with distractions without letting them interfere with optimal focus;
  • tolerate pain and discomfort;
  • remain persistent when the ‘going gets tough’;
  • have the resilience to bounce back from disappointments


The ‘3Cs’ model of mental toughness

  1. Control – the perceived ability of the individual to exert influence rather than experience helplessness;
  2. Commitment – ie a refusal to give up easily;
  3. Challenge – involving a person’s ability to grow and develop rather than remain static, and to view change rather than stability as the norm.


This 3C’s model is similar to to the 4C’s mentioned in an earlier post.

Four major influences on toughening

  1. Early life experiences. Both human and animal studies have shown links between exposure to stressors in early life and reduced fear or emotionality when exposed to threats in adulthood;
  2. Passive toughening. Intermittent exposure seems to protect against depletion of ‘stress hormones’ and is linked with their quicker returns to baseline levels. In other words, people become less sensitive and more tolerant of stress;
  3. Active toughening. Physical fitness gained through aerobic conditioning is thought to be an important means of self-toughening. This could be related to the application of control;
  4. Ageing. This has the opposite effects to the other three, tending to make people more sensitive to and less tolerant of stress.


For more information about developing mental toughness and reasons why people may loose their mental toughness read this blog post.

At the Possible Mind we aim to help you develop your mental toughness by using a variety of techniques to support you to be all you can be. For more information please contact us.

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