The Science Behind Mental Toughness, and The Top 4 Attributes You Should Have
Mental toughness can be defined as a personal capacity to produce consistently high levels of subjective or objective performance despite everyday challenges and stressors as well as significant adversities. (Gucciardi et al., 2015)
Clearly, mental toughness is a beneficial quality to have, it allows you to push past inevitable setbacks to achieve success. But what are the top attributes of mental toughness?
- Self-belief in your ability to achieve goals
- The ability to bounce back from setbacks
- Having a self-belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponents
- The ability to remain fully focused on tasks in the face of competition-specific distractions
The Study: In a study by Jones et al., 2002, athletes ranked 12 attributes of mental toughness in order of importance.
1. Self-belief in your ability to achieve goals
Numerous studies, including this one, show that the most important attribute of mental toughness is self-belief in your ability to achieve goals. Self-belief in yourself can be developed through vicarious experiences – by watching others who have embarked on a similar path and have achieved success, you can develop the belief that you can achieve that same success yourself.
What you believe about yourself and tell yourself are crucial to mental toughness, Rewire has integrated self-talk mantras to help develop this and in turn, build your mental toughness.
“This record was in my mind for a long time, I’m so happy to have made it reality today.”Geoffrey Kamworor – On his Half Marathon World Record (2019)
2. The ability to bounce back from setbacks
In this same study, athletes ranked ‘bouncing back from performance set-backs as a result of increased determination to succeed’ as the second most important attribute of mental toughness.
One of the athletes involved with the study was quoted as saying ‘Nobody’s rise to the top is completely smooth, there are always little hiccups or turns in the road.’
Negative results provide increased determination as no one ever wants to be known as a ‘failure’. This increased determination coming from failure is a key part of mental toughness, it differentiates those who will never give up from those who will.
Related: Brain-Endurance Training for Athletes: What You Need To Know
4. The ability to remain fully focused on tasks in the face of competition-specific distractions
The third most important attribute of mental toughness was a self-belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponents. Rewire is all about developing qualities that set you apart from your competition by providing mental training so that you can develop your mental endurance above that of your competitors, allowing you to have that self-belief that you are better than your opponents.
‘Every quarterback can throw a ball; every running back can run; every receiver is fast; but that mental toughness that you talk about translates into competitiveness.’Tom Brady
4. Having a self-belief that you possess unique qualities and abilities that make you better than your opponents
The fourth attribute, and the final one we will discuss, is the ability to remain fully focused on tasks in the face of competition-specific distractions. Numerous distractions can occur in competitions, causing your mind to be taken off the task at hand reducing your performance. Using Rewire helps to develop your mental focus. You are ranked on mental focus after every training workout, with the ability to track it over time.
Related: Overview of Rewire’s Neuro-Performance System
Laura Kline, Rewire Athlete and Former World Duathlon Champion, tells us: ‘It’s not letting your mind wander and your legs slow down as it [Rewire] keeps you focused the entire time.’
To summarize, mental toughness is universally accepted as a key part of athletic performance, as Eliud Kipchoge says: “If you don’t rule your mind, your mind will rule you”. Mental toughness allows you to achieve high levels of performance even in the face of setbacks. It’s time we started to work on it….
Related: How to Build Mental Toughness in Athletes
‘If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it.’Michael Jordan
See how mentally tough you are by trying our FREE online Mental Toughness Challenge!
Studies Covered in Article for Further Reading
‘What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers’
Jones G; Hanton S; Connaughton D.
JOURNAL OF APPLIED SPORT PSYCHOLOGY
Copyright © 2002 by the Association for Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology
‘The Concept of Mental Toughness: Tests of Dimensionality, Nomological Network, and Traitness’
Gucciardi F; Hanton S; Gordan S; Mallett C; Temby P
Journal of Personality 2015
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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