Mental toughness in sport : perspectives of Master Strength and Conditioning Coaches.
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Stamatis, Andreas, 1981-
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In recent years, mental toughness (MT) has frequently been associated with success in sports. However, MT remains one of the most misunderstood terms in Applied Sport Psychology. Moreover, although evidence links the crucial role of environmental influences that coaches create for their athletes, no research has been done concerning the perceptions of MT among Master Strength and Conditioning Coaches (MSCC) to date. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the perceptions of MSSCs in regards to MT using a mixed-method design. Purposeful quantitative and qualitative data were collected using a questionnaire (i.e., S.T.A.M. II) from these important stakeholders about (a) whether or not MSCCs perceive MT to exist as a unique construct in the sports domain, (b) how MSCCs define/conceptualize MT, (c) whether or not MSCCs perceived MT as transferability to other areas of life, (d) how to measure MT and/or if they would be willing to use an MT instrument, (e) whether or not MSCCs think that MT can be developed, (f) whether or not MSCCs know how to train MT, incorporate MT training, design an MT training program, (g) the extent to which MSCCs believe MT affects optimal performance, (h) whether or not MSCCs perceive differences in MT on the basis of gender, and (i) the extent to which MSCCs perceived differences in views on MT between SCCs and Head Coaches (HCs). The response rate was 45%. Although there was variation in the MSCCs responses, the findings have both clinical and methodological implications. The majority of MSCCs believes in the existence of MT and really appreciates its value. Although there is no clear conceptualization of the construct, MSCCs believe that MT is developed and transferable, while there are no gender differences nor differences between the perceptions of MSCCs and Head Coaches. In addition, although they do not appear to know how to measure the construct, MSCCs use more physical than psychological strategies when training it. Based on the above perspective of MSSCs, a new working definition of MT was created.