Sports Psychology Coaching


Mental Toughness

The 69 Characteristics Of Mentally Tough Individuals

Bill Cole, MS, MA
The Mental Game Coach™
Silicon Valley, California

What does it mean to be mentally tough? Why do top achievers and performers revere it? Does mental toughness imply being insensitive, uncaring and rude? Does it mean being cold, selfish, unethical and overly aggressive? Not at all. An individual with mental toughness can be quite well mannered, ethical, friendly, helpful, affable and warm. The quality of mental toughness means that an individual has the ability to master the naturally unmanageable desires of the body and mind and bring them under a discipline to achieve and sustain demanding goals and performance under pressure.

Mental toughness is something championship athletes possess. Any military person should have plenty of it. Police and fire personnel personify it. Disciplined musicians, theater actors and public speakers have it. Sales people and leaders display it every day.

This article describes these 69 characteristics of mental toughness. Use it to discuss the nuances and seeming paradoxes of this highly desirable quality.

  1. Self-discipline
  2. Makes a commitment
  3. Displays self-sacrifice
  4. Loves the battle
  5. Loves pressure
  6. Loves competition
  7. Handles mind games
  8. Does not sabotage self
  9. Has mature emotional control
  10. Can perform injured
  11. Does not beat self
  12. Knows how to win
  13. High self-esteem
  14. High self confidence
  15. Controls slumps
  16. Controls burnout
  17. Loves the game
  18. Ability to handle pain and discomfort
  19. More than adequate physical fitness
  20. Has endurance and persistence
  21. Bounces back from adversity
  22. Uses challenges to grow
  23. Realistic viewpoints and judgments
  24. Uses reality checks
  25. Take-charge mind set
  26. Thinks like a winner
  27. Takes calculated and bold risks
  28. Controls what they can and lets the rest go
  29. Assertive and aggressive
  30. Killer instinct
  31. Will to prepare to win
  32. Will to win
  33. Loves to win
  34. Hates to lose
  35. Self-motivated
  36. Self-aware
  37. Makes own luck
  38. Raises game when needed
  39. Gives 110%, but doesn't try too hard
  40. Leaves no regrets after a contest
  41. Has mental discipline
  42. Sees difficulties as challenges
  43. Accepts the stress and pain of competition
  44. Handles the paradox of success
  45. Pushes self when necessary
  46. Overcomes or pushes past fears
  47. Has high standards
  48. Loves hard work
  49. Learns well from mistakes
  50. Handles losing emotionally
  51. Recovers quickly from mistakes
  52. Learns from mistakes and losses
  53. Adjusts tactics and performance mid-stride
  54. Paces self, knows how to recover
  55. Not sensitive to criticism and coaching
  56. Unwavering concentration
  57. Maintains focus
  1. High achiever, not a perfectionist
  2. Fair sportsmanship
  3. Competes fully-no tanking
  4. Controls momentum
  5. Shows excellent personal image to opponent
  6. Influences key players
  7. Visualizes success
  8. Stays centered
  9. Sets realistic goals
  10. Has an advance game plan
  11. Has contingency plans
  12. Controls the clock

10 Questions About These 69 Mental Toughness Characteristics

  1. How can you TELL when someone is mentally tough?

  2. How can you tell when someone does NOT have mental toughness?

  3. What are the ADVANTAGES of being mentally tough?

  4. What PROBLEMS arise when an individual is NOT mentally tough?

  5. How does one ACHIEVE mental toughness?

  6. In WHAT ARENAS is mental toughness desirable?

  7. WHO would you point to as EXAMPLES of mental toughness?

  8. What are some BARRIERS that PREVENT people from achieving mental toughness?

  9. What are some MISCONCEPTIONS about mental toughness?

  10. What about being mentally tough seems PARADOXICAL AND CONTRADICTORY?

578 words

Copyright © 2004-2008 Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on sports psychology, peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps sports teams and individuals achieve more success. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association, an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published author of books and articles, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports and big-time college athletics.

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Mental Toughness

Bill Cole, MS, MA
Sports Psychology Coaching

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