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What is Mental Toughness?

This is an excerpt from Focused for Rugby by Adam Nicholls & Jon Callard.

Improve your mental toughness to become the best rugby player you can be. Learn more in Focused for Rugby.

What Is Mental Toughness?

Most coaches and athletes believe that mental toughness is one of the most important psychological characteristics that determine success in rugby. Mental toughness is a widely used, but often misunderstood, term. People who are mentally tough have complete self-belief in their own ability, an unshakable faith that they are in complete control of their own destiny, and a conviction that they will be relatively unaffected by setbacks.

Four Cs of Mental Toughness

Mental toughness consists of the 4 Cs: control, commitment, challenge, and confidence (Clough, Earle, & Sewell, 2002).

  • Control. People who are mentally tough are not afraid to take control or responsibility for the situation that they are in.
  • Commitment. Mentally tough individuals involve themselves fully in what they are doing and always give maximum effort.
  • Challenge. The athlete who is mentally tough views all stressful situations as being challenging and focuses on what can be gained from stressful situations (e.g., enhancing reputation, scoring a try, winning the match).
  • Confidence. The most mentally tough rugby players have an immensely strong belief in their ability to achieve success.

The four Cs are the foundations of mental toughness. Researchers have also identified a number of traits and behaviours that are associated with mental toughness (see figure 4.1).

Becoming More Mentally Tough

We have now explained what mental toughness is, and you might now be asking yourself what you can do to become more mentally tough. Researchers have investigated the strategies and behaviours of the most mentally tough athletes. You can improve your mental toughness by

1. adopting the mind-set, attitude, and behaviour of a mentally tough rugby player and

2. engaging in the strategies used by the most mentally tough athletes.

Read more from Focused for Rugby by Adam Nicholls, Jon Callard.