Mental toughness, (MT), an inner focus and commitment to rise above challenges when facing adversity, has long been recognized as among the most important psychological attributes for achieving performance excellence in sport (Gould, Hodge, Peterson, & Petlichkoff, 1987). It is widely believed that coaches play a key role in the development of essential MT attributes, and a study examining professional tennis players found that 81% of players cited their coach as the source of the MT strategies that they employ (Defrancesco & Burke, 1997). The goal of this research was to investigate the main mental toughness attributes for tennis and strategies to achieve these attributes as recommended by NCAA Division 1 tennis coaches. Recorded phone interviews were conducted with eleven NCAA Division 1 coaches (10 male; 1 female) which ranged from 15–30 minutes in length. Interviews were semi-structured and included five main questions: defining MT as a term, determining MT’s main attributes in regard to tennis, specific MT strategies to utilize, how the coach learned MT techniques, and resources needed to improve MT.
Results found that coaches defined MT as it relates to tennis as the ability to handle and respond to adversity, manage emotions and stress, and consistently maintain a high level of performance. The MT attributes listed by coaches were body language, hard work, consistency, emotional control, staying present, staying calm under pressure, and never giving up in a match. The top strategy suggested to develop MT qualities was making practice more difficult by utilizing conditioning, changing scoring rules, and increasing pressure by adding a consequence. Other strategies listed multiple times included utilizing breathing exercises/meditation, journaling body language and emotional states after matches and practice, utilizing match video, and establishing team goals and vision to refer back to in pivotal moments. Future directions in this field could include comparing coach and athlete perceptions of MT in tennis, looking at MT differences between levels of tennis players or coaches, and evaluating MT interventions in populations of tennis players.
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|Commitee:||Ede, Alison, Vargas, Tiffanye|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 57/05M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Sports Management, Kinesiology, Psychology, Higher education|
|Keywords:||Mental toughness, Mental toughness development, Sport psychology, Tennis|
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