Mental Toughness in Coaching

In the world of athletics, metrics play a crucial role. Research and data help coaches and athletes to optimize their routines, and also make changes to them if required to improve their performance.

An important concept that’s linked to coaches and athletes is mental toughness, but it is also an aspect of sports that has limited research.

A study was conducted to investigate and learn more about mental toughness. Approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), the study focused on the perspectives of 22 elite coaches and what qualities they felt were vital for defining mental toughness in coaching. Given below are the key points the coaches agreed on:


The coaches believed that confidence was an essential component of mental toughness. They felt that acting confidence helped to instill confidence in their athletes, and it also enabled them to come up with productive coaching behaviors. The coaches or managers are a reflection of their team. A deflated and dejected coach passes off the same energy to his team, and that could be a recipe for underperformance.


Coaches have to be able to keep up with the long hours of involvement that their role demands. For instance, they are involved in preparing the workout schedules for athletes and deciding how well athletes are adapting to these routines. They have to handle various activities, training, planning, recruiting, and traveling. Moreover, they have to endure the highs and lows that come with competitive athletics, that include handling victory and loss with a stable mindset. Losses take a toll on the athletes’ psyche, so they must be prepared to handle these situations.


A coach needs to maintain a consistent approach towards the sport throughout a season. A season is bound to have its ups and downs. The coach needs to present their best efforts to the team consistently. This would also encourage the team to perform to the best of their abilities. Intensity from the coach also keeps the players grounded and focused during season highs and lows.

Positive spirit

It’s not unusual for people to experience something negative and then draw strong conclusions based on that. A mentally tough coach would not fall prey to such negative experiences. They would maintain a positive outlook and not be fazed by losses or setbacks. The pressure from the press and the fans should be taken on the chin by the coach and not projected on the athletes, as it could affect their confidence.


A mentally tough coach would be incredibly passionate about the game. A coach’s passion would propel the athletes and fill them with even more passion for the game. The team is a reflection of the coach. Passion from the coach is telling on team performance. Adaptability

During their careers, coaches have to adapt and change to stay relevant and efficient in their respective tasks. They have to adapt with regards to the technical elements, tactical issues, and social situations as well. A mentally tough coach can have a long career in the sport because they can push themselves to adapt and have the ability to re-invent themselves. A coach should not have his ego bruised if his tactics are challenged. Instead, he should look for ways to improve and to improve team performance as well.

Inner strength

Competitive sports demand inner strength to navigate highly tricky and complicated situations. It’s especially important when handling personnel and management problems. Athletes are human beings, and as such, it is important to understand each athlete personally to get the best from them. Being able to manage people effectively would determine the mental toughness of a coach.


The people surrounding a coach may not be patient, which is what makes it critical for a coach to display this quality. Not being swayed by one’s emotions is a powerful sign of mental toughness. Emotional intelligence is key. Knowing when to be angry, patient, or erratic is the key to success for a coach.

Instilling these qualities can help one to strengthen their mentality and be prepared to withstand immense pressure on and off the field of play. If you are a coach looking for ways to improve your skills or a player seeking methods in mental toughness to improve your game, make sure to book a free consultation with Dr. Joe and find out how he can assist you with your goals

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