Mental toughness, mental skills, and hardiness in team and individual athletes


Background: Superior sport performance has been attributed to a variety of factors including mental toughness, mental skills, and hardiness (Gould, Dieffenbach, & Moffett, 2002). However, it has been suggested that these factors may vary between participants in different types of sport (Nicholls, Polman, Levy, & Backhouse, 2009). Research Design: Cross-sectional survey design. Participants: 159 varsity and club athletes from ages 18-33 (M= 20.23 SD = 2.05) were recruited from multiple sports. Measures: Test of Performance Strategies (TOPS) measured mental skills. The Sport Mental Toughness Questionnaire (SMTQ) measured mental toughness. The Dispositional Resilience Scale (DRS-15) measured hardiness. Procedures: Independent t-tests were conducted to assess the difference between team and individual athletes on mental skills, mental toughness, and hardiness subscales found in their respective questionnaires. Results: On the TOPS, significant differences were found between team and individual sport athletes on practice activation (p=0.018), practice relaxation (p=0.004), competition activation (p<0.001), competition automaticity (p<0.001), and competition emotional control (p=.012). For the SMTQ, significant differences were found only for scores on the control (p=0.015) subscale. There were no significant differences on any subscales of the DRS. Conclusion: The results suggest that team athletes demonstrate more practice activation, competition activation, competition automaticity, and competition emotional control while individual athletes experience more practice relaxation on the subscales for TOPS, regarding mental skills. In addition, team athletes experience more control on the subscale for SMTQ, regarding mental toughness. The results suggest that psychological factors associated with sport performance may vary by the type of sport an athlete participates in.