An investigation into the nature of mental toughness in sport

Fourie, Sansonette (2000-03)

Dissertation (MScSportSc)--University of Stellenbosch, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study investigated the components of mental toughness as reported in the sport psychology literature and by coaches and athletes. A questionnaire devised for this purpose by the researcher, was completed by 131 expert coaches from 30 different sport disciplines and by 160 elite level athletes from 31 different sport disciplines. The information gathered from the literature, as well as from the coaches' and athletes' written statements, was analysed by means of an inductive content analysis. Content analysis organises the data into increasingly more complex themes and categories representing the components of mental toughness. From the literature analysis, eight components of mental toughness were identified, these being: motivation level, arousal control, confidence maintenance, cognitive skill, competitive behaviour, planning skills, emotional readiness and team cohesion. The analysis of the statements provided by the coaches and athletes resulted in the identification of 12 components of mental toughness. These are, in descending order: motivation level, coping skills, confidence maintenance, cognitive skill, discipline and goal-directedness, competitiveness, possession of prerequisite physical and mental requirements, team unity, preparation skills, psychological hardiness, religious convictions and ethics. In addition the coaches and athletes rated their mentioned characteristics. The coaches regarded concentration as the most important characteristic while the athletes regarded perseverance as most important. The coaches rated a coach and a sport psychologist respectively, to be significantly more effective (p<0.05) in strengthening the characteristics of mental toughness than athletes did. It is concluded that a definition of mental toughness should include the following components: motivation level, coping skills (including arousal control strategies), confidence maintenance (including discipline and goal directedness), cognitive skill, competitive behaviour (including competitiveness and possession of the prerequisite physical and mental requirements), planning and preparation skills, psychological hardiness (including emotional readiness) and, finally, religious convictions and ethics. In team sports the definition of mental toughness contains an extra component, namely team cohesion and unity.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie het die komponente van sielkundige taaiheid ondersoek soos dit in die sportsielkunde literatuur en deur afrigters en atlete vertolk word. 'n Vraelys, wat deur die navorser vir hierdie doelontwerp is, is deur 131 kundige afrigters vanuit 30 verskillende sportdissiplines en deur 160 elite atlete vanuit 31 verskillende sportdissiplines, voltooi. Die inligting ingesamel vanuit die literatuur, asook die stellings gemaak deur die afrigters en atlete, is deur middel van 'n induktiewe inhoudsanalisemetode geanaliseer. Inhoudsanalise organiseer data in toenemende komplekse temas en kategorieë wat die komponente van sielkundige taaiheid voorstel. Vanuit die analise van die literatuur het die volgende agt komponente van sielkundige taaiheid na vore gekom: motiveringsvlak, beheer van opwekking, handhawing van selfvertroue, kognitiewe vaardigheid, kompeterende gedrag, beplanningsvaardighede, emosionele gereedheid en spankohesie. Die analise van die afrigters en atlete se stellings het tot gevolg gehad dat 12 komponente van sielkundige taaiheid geïdentifiseer is. Hulle is, in dalende volgorde: motiveringsvlak, hanteringsvaardighede, handhawing van selfvertroue, kognitiewe vaardigheid, dissipline en doelgerigtheid, mededingendheid, beskikking oor die nodige liggaamlike en sielkundige vereistes, eenheid van die span, voorbereidingsvaardighede, sielkundige gehardheid, godsdienstige oortuigings en etiese waardes. Bykomend het die afrigters en die atlete die belangrikheid van hul stellings beoordeel. Konsentrasie is deur die afrigters as die belangrikste geoordeel terwyl deursettingsvermoë deur die atlete verkies is. Die afrigters het bepaal dat 'n afrigter en sportsielkundige beduidend meer (p<0.05) die eienskappe van sielkundige taaiheid kan versterk, as wat die geval met die atlete was. Die gevolgtrekking is dat 'n definisie van sielkundige taaiheid, die volgende komponente moet bevat: motiveringsvlak, hanteringsvaardighede (sluit opwekkingsbeheer in), handhawing van selfvertroue (sluit dissipline en doelgerigtheid in), kognitiewe vaardigheid, kompeterende gedrag (sluit mededingendheid en beskikking oor die nodige fisieke en sielkundige vereistes in), beplanning- en voorbereidingsvaardighede, sielkundige gehardheid sluit emosionele gereedheid in) en, laastens, godsdienstige oortuigings en etiese waardes. Spansportsoorte se definisie van sielkundige taaiheid sluit 'n ekstra komponent, spankohesie en -eenheid in.

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