Mental Toughness & Willpower

Providing the Mental Edge, Part IX



The beginning discussion of mental toughness and willpower makes up part nine of Providing the Mental Edge series. Prior to reading further, ask yourself a few questions:

What is mental toughness?

What is not mental toughness?

How would you build mental toughness?

How would you destroy mental toughness?


Once you’ve thought about those questions you may start to form an impression of what mental toughness actually is and how to train it.

Mental toughness training allows players to tap into emotional and mental resources that keep play at its prime as often and as consistently as possible. Jim Loehr stated, “Toughness is the ability to perform toward the upper range of your talent and skill regardless of the competitive circumstances.”

The following are six mental toughness qualities to look for in athletes:

  1. They combat negative thought.
  2. They know how to see themselves succeeding.
  3. They learn to see stress as a challenge, not a threat.
  4. They use humor to break up tension.
  5. They know how to learn and move on from mistakes.
  6. They develop what Loehr calls a “just for today” spirit.

After asking yourself those intro questions and reviewing the video above, you can begin to expand on a list of things to build mental toughness:

  • What I will NEVER do because it will undermine or destroy the building of mental toughness with myself.
  • What I will do GENERALLY to build mental toughness with myself.
  • What I will do DAILY to build mental toughness with myself.
  • What I will do WEEKLY to build mental toughness with my teammates.

It’s easy to watch these videos and get hyped up about training and putting in the work. But the goal of developing mental toughness and willpower is to not NEED these videos and instead, have trained and acquired the mindset so it’s automatic. 

It’s a process, just like anything else, to develop mental toughness. As coaches, we’re in a unique position to help people realize their own mental toughness and willpower within themselves. 


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