Mental Toughness Makes Winners

What is it that really makes someone mentally tough? Mental toughness is a term that is often used in sports but not very well understood. There are a variety of different ways to define mental toughness. Jones (2002) defines being mentally tough as, “Mental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to: Generally, cope better than your opponents with the many demands (competition, training, lifestyle) that sport places on a performer and specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure” (p. 209).

Being mentally tough makes you stronger and that much better. It gives you that extra edge over your competitor. You can be physically tough and prepared to the highest degree athletically, but you can only go so far without being mentally tough as well. According to Sheard (2012), “when it comes down to it, there are two qualities that are necessary for victory in any sport: ability and mental toughness” (p. 2). Champions have both the ability or physical skill along with the mental toughness. Winning is a hard thing to do, and it is a mental game. How hard can you push your body? Or how hard will your mind allow you to push your body? In my experience, being a national championship cheerleader is not something that came easy. It involves performing and giving 110% effort even when you are so sore that you cannot get out of bed and you think you are actually dying. I have learned how to be mentally tough through experience, and the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it all the effort.

Mental toughness is something that is hard to put into a defined set of words or guidelines, but we can find common themes between champions and our own experiences of winning. It is about pushing harder when you are tired, having confidence, and being able to perform to your best ability under pressure. You can have all the skill and talent, but if you cannot control your nerves and you let them effect the way you perform, then you are mentally weak and you will end up losing. You often hear in interviews after a tough win that the players and coaches say, “we stayed mentally tough and got the win” or “we did a great job staying mentally tough, got through that rough half and came out on top”. I think that mental toughness is a lot about keeping your mind calm and confident and not letting defeat get to you. In basketball when a player misses their free throws they are either going to dwell on the losses or focus on making that perfect three-point shot. I think mentally tough athletes have a way of staying focused on the main goal and not letting mistakes ultimately effect the rest of their performance or confidence. Mental toughness is not only something that should be used in sports. We can apply the concept of mental toughness in all aspects of life because being mentally tough is what breeds winners.

References for Information Sources

Jones, G. (2002). What is this thing called mental toughness? An investigation of elite sport performers. Journal of applied sport psychology,14(3), 205–218.

Sheard, M. (2012). Mental toughness: The mindset behind sporting achievement. Routledge.

References for Media

Mental toughness picture retrieved from: http://www.strongrunnerchicks.com/mental-toughness/

Muhammad Ali picture retrieved from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/296885800406630145/