You scored (out of 18):
Novice Mental Toughness – The Tiger-Cub
You are a tiger-cub when it comes to mental toughness: You have all the capabilities of the fully-grown tiger, only you do not yet know how or when to use them for optimal performance. While you might have the physical ability and strength, your inexperienced or untrained mind holds you back from your physical, fully developed, tiger-potential.
You get frustrated when you make mistakes, you find it difficult to manage your emotions or anxiety with ease, your body gets tight and your mind goes blank at key moments, and you’re often looking to others – your peers, your parents, and/or your coaches – for validation.
No worries, you are a committed athlete (why else would you be spending your time on this assessment?) and all of this mental toughness is trainable. It will simply take some time and concentrated effort to shift your habits from that of a novice to that of a champion.
Mental Toughness Training for the Mental Toughness Tiger-Cub
Performance only happens in the present:
- The best athletes are able to perform especially when the pressure is on (3), and the game is on the line; so, if you are in a pressure-filled environment and you can’t handle it, you have quite a ways to come in your mental toughness.
- It might seem like the pressure is coming from the situation or from people around you, but it is actually coming from you. In these pressure-filled situations, I would bet that you are focused either on:
- What might happen in the future (or the “what ifs?”) For example: What if I mess up? What if we lose? Etc.
- What happened in the past (or the “if onlys…”) For example: If only I’d done x, then y would or wouldn’t have happened.
- And, when you’re focused on past or future thoughts, you almost always get emotional too. This is when you’ll start feeling angry, frustrated, anxious, etc. which only fuels any negative self talk you might be experiencing.
- Performance only happens in the present, so if your mental energy is focused on the future, you’ll have less mental energy focused on your skill execution in the present (where performance happens).
Here’s what you can do:
Recognize that it is YOU that is creating the pressure with your thoughts and your concerns
- Start to notice what your body does when the pressure is on – let’s call this your Mental Toughness Signal (MTS)
- Challenge yourself to notice as early as possible when your MTS goes off, (i.e. when you start getting tight or feeling anxious). When you ‘feel’ your MTS, know that your mental energy is focused on future or past thoughts (or definitely not in the present).
- The next step is to pick a refocus cue (I like to use the word ‘Now!’)
- It’s also good to check in who you’re playing/performing for? The more your motivation and drive comes from within, the more unshakeable you’ll be in your performance.
- Any performance is really only a bunch of ‘right now’s’ all strung together; so, if you can keep bringing yourself back to ‘right now, now, now’, your body will chill out and your performance will return.
- You can do anything if you keep your mind focused on right now!
Why Mental Toughness?
Mental toughness is basically a “natural or developed psychological edge”(1) that helps you better deal with the demands, pressures and distractions of your sport. Now who wouldn’t want that, right? Especially when some researchers say that mental toughness is that extra characteristic that separates talented athletes from those who become superstars (2).
Mental toughness will help you:
- Stay relaxed in any environment
- Experience low anxiety levels
- Be competitive without stressing about winning or losing
- Believe in yourself, in your abilities, and in your ability to control your destiny
- Remain unshakeable even in the face of adversity
Call to Action
Whether you scored high or low on this quiz, or somewhere in between, it’s equally as important that you keep training your mental toughness. The competition is going to get harder and your competitors will get tougher, so it is imperative you train your mental along with your physical skills.
This assessment is a call to action. No matter where you’re at, the next level of your mental toughness training starts right NOW:
- Fully take on the coaching in this assessment or in the ‘Mental Toughness Tipster’ weekly email you will now receive.
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to get daily Mental Toughness Tips (@GetPsychedMTI).
- Or send us an email with any questions you have.
- Consider taking this audio course we’ve designed for you: The Mental Toughness Training Program for Champion Athletes.
We are committed to your Mental Toughness, so use us as resource to achieve your peak potential right away!
The Mental Toughness Team
(1) Connaughton, D., Wadey, R., Hanton, S., & Jones, G. (2008). The development and maintenance of mental toughness: Perceptions of elite performers. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26 (1), 83-95.
(2) Crust, L. & Kayvon, A. (2010). Mental toughness and athletes’ use of psychological strategies. European Journal of Sport Science, 10(1), 43-51.
(3) Pelletier, L.G., Fortier, M.S., Vallerand, R.J., & Briere, N. (2001). Associations among perceived autonomy support, forms of self-regulation, and persistence: A prospective study. Motivation and Emotion, 25(4), 279-306.
Other research that informed this assessment:
– Clough, P.J., Earle, K., & Sewell, D. (2002). Mental toughness: The concept and its measurement. In I. Cockerill (Ed.), Solutions in sport psychology. London: Thomson. pp. 32-43