Discovering Mental Toughness: A Qualitative Study of Mental Toughness in Elite Athletes [R]
Simon C. Middleton, Herb W. Marsh, Andrew J. Martin, Garry E. Richards, and Clark Perry
SELF Research Centre, University of Western Sydney, Australia
What is mental toughness? This research draws on the experience of elite athletes and coaches to unearth a
conceptualisation and definition of mental toughness. The interviews of 33 elite athletes and coaches (including 25 current or former elite athletes, of whom 15 had achieved an Olympic Gold Medal or World Champion status) were transcribed verbatim and analysed qualitatively to reveal underpinning components of mental toughness. Mental toughness is multi-dimensional and consists of twelve components, including: self-efficacy, potential, mental selfconcept, task familiarity, value, personal bests, goal commitment, perseverance, task focus, positivity, stress minimisation, and positive comparisons. Mental toughness is defined as an unshakeable perseverance and conviction towards some goal despite pressure or adversity. This conceptualisation of mental toughness provides a platform from which instruments of measurement can be developed.