Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS

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running head: athletes’ and coaches’ views on mental toughness keys to..researcher conducted interviews with coaches and student-athletes from a variety of..38 mental toughness 9. appendix c – consent letter to marietta college...

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Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS pdf




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Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 1
Running head: ATHLETES’ AND COACHES’ VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS Keys to Athletic Success: A Study of Student-athletes’ and Coaches’ Views on Mental Toughness A Thesis Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for The Degree Master of Arts in the Graduate School of Marietta College By Andrea J. Hoover ***** Marietta College 2006 Masters Examination Committee: Dr. William Bauer, Advisor Approved by ________________________ Advisor Department of Education
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Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 2
Mental Toughness ii ABSTRACT Athletes and coaches around the world strive daily for success in sport. There is a never- ending search for knowledge about what gives athletes and teams that certain edge to overcome the competition and reach their full potential. Mental toughness is often included in discussions related to traits of a successful performer. Some sport professionals believe that the mental part of athletics is the hardest to train. The purpose of this study was to explore athletes’ and coaches’ views and attitudes about mental toughness. The researcher conducted interviews with coaches and student-athletes from a variety of athletic programs at Marietta College, a NCAA Division III Institution in Southeastern Ohio.
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 3
Mental Toughness iii DEDICATION To my family: Mom, Dad, Betsy, Katy, Brad, Josh, Emma and my Grandmothers Thank you all for your continuous support in everything I do. To Tom Symons Thank you for giving me this opportunity and helping me through it.
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 4
Mental Toughness iv TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Abstract ………………………………………………………………………………… ii Dedication ……………………………………………………………………………… iii Chapters: 1. Introduction ………………………………………………………………… 1 Statement of the Problem ………………………………………………. 3 Purpose …………………………………………………………………. 3 Research Questions …………………………………………………….. 3 Central Phenomena ..…………………………………………………… 3 Limitations of the Study ………………………………………………... 3 2. Review of Literature ……………………………………………………….. 5 3. Methods ……………………………………………………………………..10 Study Design ……………………………………………………………10 Participants ……………………………………………………………...10 Procedure ………………………………………………………………..11 4. Results ………………………………………………………………………13 5. Discussion …………………………………………………………………. 28 6. References ...……………………………………………………………….. 35 7. Appendix A – Interview Questions………………………………………... 37 8. Appendix B – Marietta College Human Subjects Review Form………….. 38
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 5
Mental Toughness 9. Appendix C – Consent Letter to Marietta College Athletic Director……. 40 10. Appendix D – Signed Consent from Marietta College Athletic Director....41 v
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 6
Mental Toughness 1 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION The game clock ticks to five seconds. The game-winning play, set up by the coach during the team’s final time-out, is in motion. The gymnasium is packed with fans and the echoes of their countdown ring in the players’ ears. The shooting guard’s feet are set, the ball is passed and the shot goes up. What does that player possess that gives the coach and the team confidence to put the game in that person’s hands? What makes that player successful under pressure? Coaches and athletes of all ages and skill levels face situations similar to this one daily. What are the keys to success in sport? Athletes and coaches continuously search for knowledge that is going to give them a competitive edge and make them successful. Frequently, leaders in their field are studied. Who is the best of the best and what are their secrets? Basketball coaches may study Duke University’s head coach Mike Krzyzewski to find his keys to success. Young athletes may look to Michael Jordan to seek out what made him reach his potential and climb to the top of the basketball world. Researchers usually find that many factors contribute to athletic success. Of course, physical fitness and athletic ability are obvious parts of that list, but another characteristic that frequently surfaces when these top notch athletes and programs are studied is mental toughness (Ness, 1997). Presently, researchers in the sports’ field are looking into this concept of mental toughness and various ways it can be taught.
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 7
Mental Toughness Sports psychologists, along with coaches and athletes, continue to search for answers to these questions. The mental part of sport is investigated by participants and coaches much more than in the past, and sports psychology is becoming more prevalent in today’s society (Plessinger, 2005). Many articles have been written and theories created about the attributes that go into mental toughness; however, most of these are based on personal experience. Quality research on this critical key to success is lacking and a true definition is hard to find. This study explored the central phenomena – what is mental toughness and can it be developed? The researcher interviewed coaches and student-athletes from Marietta College, a NCAA Division III Institution in Southeastern Ohio. The Marietta athletic 2 teams participate in the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC). The OAC is a strong Division III conference with teams representing a variety of sports frequently ranked among the nation’s top 25. Marietta’s athletic programs have experienced varied levels of success in the OAC ranging from winning conference titles to finishing last place. Through the research process of interviewing subjects and coding the data, the researcher distinguished themes in four different topics concerning mental toughness. The topics included: 1. The definition of mental toughness, 2. Characteristics of a mentally tough performer, 3. The ability to develop mental toughness, and 4. Factors in and strategies for the development of mental toughness. The premise of this study was to provide insight into the views of athletes and coaches on mental toughness as a key to athletic success.
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 8
Mental Toughness Statement of the Problem 3 The absence of mental toughness is often highlighted as a top reason why athletes and teams do not reach their full potential and the highest possible level of success. Athletes frequently struggle with the mental aspect of sport and many coaches question how to teach and enhance this skill. This researcher is intrigued by this mental factor in athletic success and discovered little quality research completed in the United States on the views of athletes and coaches regarding this characteristic. Purpose and Research Questions Mental toughness is considered by many professionals in the sports’ field a critical element to athletic success. The purpose of this study was to explore the views of athletes and coaches regarding mental toughness. By interviewing both male and female athletes and coaches from a variety of sports at Marietta College, the researcher examined how mental toughness is defined by athletes and coaches, what characteristics are associated with being a mentally tough performer, if mental toughness can be taught or enhanced in athletes, and how mental toughness is developed in athletes. The researcher believed a study would be helpful to coaches and athletes striving to reach their potential and be competitive in their sports. Central Phenomena What is mental toughness and can it be developed? Limitations of the Study This study was strictly a qualitative study. This researcher explored the views of athletes and coaches regarding mental toughness. This study’s sample was limited to NCAA Division III athletes and coaches from one institution in Southeastern Ohio,
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 9
Mental Toughness 4 which will not allow the researcher to make generalizations about the views and attitudes of the entire population of collegiate athletes and coaches across the United States. Another limitation of this study was the time commitment needed to collect data. The researcher scheduled interviews around class, practice and competition schedules, and the selection of subjects was limited to those athletes and coaches who were willing to volunteer their time. Also, the Marietta College athletic programs are not highly diverse. Researchers may find different results in a more diverse population of athletes and coaches.
Running head: ATHLETES' AND COACHES' VIEWS ON MENTAL TOUGHNESS - page 10
Mental Toughness 5 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF LITERATURE In the world of soccer, the name Mia Hamm needs no introduction. The list of this elite performer’s accomplishments includes: four-time member of the NCAA champion University of North Carolina soccer team, youngest woman ever to play with the United States National Team at the age of 15, member of the gold medal winning United States National Team at the 1996 Olympic Games, first-ever three-time United States Soccer Athlete-of-the-Year, and generally considered the best all-around woman soccer player in the world (Womens Soccer World Online). As with many athletes, Hamm has had a career full of positive moments, disappointing mistakes and nagging injuries. At the 1995 World Cup in Sweden, when starting goalkeeper Briana Scurry was ejected from the game, Hamm had to step out of her comfort zone and normal position on the field and into her teammate’s key position. During the 1996 Olympic Games, Mia Hamm sprained her ankle against Sweden in the opening round of the games. She fought through the injury and led her team to victories over Norway and China to claim the Gold. What helped this elite performer reach her peak potential? What gave her the edge to overcome adversity and the stress of competing to rise above the rest of her opponents? Mia Hamm possesses many valuable characteristics that led to her athletic success, but she states, “The most important attribute a player must have is mental toughness” (Mack and Casstevens, 2001, p. 24).
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