Mental Toughness Article

Posted on March 5, 2013 · Posted in sport

The importance of mental toughness in elite performance, not just in tennis, but all sport and in life is increasingly recognised. But what exactly is ‘mental toughness’ and how do you get it?

Mental toughness means coping better than opponents with mental demands of sport; being more consistent and better in determination, focus, confidence, and control under pressure.

But a key confusion is to mistake stoicism and toughness – stoicism is the Victorian inhibition of emotions, particularly any sign of vulnerability or weakness. Victoria Azarenka when she won championship point at the Australian Open, sobbed dramatically – anyone who has seen Novak Djokovic pound his racket into submission on the court floor, would not see him as ‘unemotional’. The dramatic displays of release of emotion after victory, or defeat, in these champions indicate just how much there is pent up on the inside, and the astonishing level of control being exerted.

The key distinction is that the mentally tough can self-regulate: controlling impulses and emotions. They have superior self-confidence, appraisal of achievements, self-esteem, having a sense of purpose and contribution, self-efficacy, belief in abilities and strengths, and also self-control belief in control of one’s life: captain of your ship and master of your fate.

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