Everyday we face life with positive, negative or indifferent thoughts and feelings based on our mental state. There have been numerous studies completed based on how our lives are enhanced or hindered with our state of mind. Well what makes up mental toughness? According to David Yukelson, mental toughness is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to cope better than your opponents with the many demands that are placed on you as a performer (Yukelson, David, What is Mental Toughness and how to Develop It).

There are plenty of words that describe mental toughness and key psychological characteristics associated with mentally tough elite athletes and people. Some of these characteristics are self-belief, motivation, focus, and handling pressure. Self-belief is your belief in your ability to achieve competition goals because of your unique skill sets and qualities that make you better than the competition. Motivation is an internalized motivation for your success with a great ability to recover from performance setbacks with an increased determination to succeed. Focus is fully engaged in the task at hand and not being adversely affected by others performance or your own internal distractions. Finally, handling pressure is thriving on the pressure of competition and accepting that anxiety is unavoidable in competition and know you can cope with it (Yukelson, David, What is Mental Toughness and how to Develop It).

A key component of mental toughness is learning how to condition your mind to think confidently and be able to overcome frustration along with overcoming self-critical negativity.
Therefore, how is mental toughness developed? A great starting point is to start with a positive and confident mind state while believing confidently in what your core strengths are. Then, program your mind with positive thoughts, affirmations, and expectations. Next, create a routine that turns on the desired emotional state of mind for your best practice, training, or performance. In addition, have composure and learn how to let go of mistakes quickly if things are not going your way. Plus, control your negative self talk that will cause you to get frustrated, intimidated or lose focus on the goal. Next, look at failure as a stepping stone for greater success in the future. Finally, be a difference maker and step up for your peak performance to lead you and your team to success (Yukelson, David, What is Mental Toughness and how to Develop It).

Additional elements of mental toughness are resiliency, courage, strength, responsiveness, and flexibility. Mentally tough people rebound from mistakes, missed opportunities, and disappointments and get right back in the game remaining optimistic in the face of adversity. They quickly change when necessary and resolve to make things better (Riordan, Christine, Forbes, Six Elements of Mental Toughness). Mentally tough people have courage to do the right thing for themselves and the team by suppressing the temptation to cut corners or to undermine others so they come out on top. They have the courage to make the hard but right decisions for the team (Riordan, Christine, Forbes, Six Elements of Mental Toughness). In addition, mentally tough people find strength to dig deeper even when in a losing game or situation because they focus on giving their best and fighting hard until the end. They are responsive, engaged, and connected with situations especially when under pressure. They are constantly identifying the opportunities, challenges, and obstacles that will hinder their success or the success of the team. Finally, mentally tough people remain flexible when something isn’t going well or doesn’t turn out as expected while looking for new ways to solve the problem (Riordan, Christine, Forbes, Six Elements of Mental Toughness).

“Confidence is about who puts it on the line, who has the courage to compete like a warrior without fear of failure” –quote: Jerry Lynch

“I failed over and over, that is why I succeed” – quote: Michael Jordan

“You can program yourself to be positive. Being Positive is a discipline and the more adversity you face, the more positive you have to be. Being positive helps build confidence and self-esteem” – quote: Rick Pitino

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