Developing Mental Toughness - Fact or Fiction

This is more of a comment(s)/tangent than a list of topics. Developing mental toughness is a fallacy. You either have it or you don't. This is THE number one message that coaches NEED to understand. Some people have it and might not know it, others are naturally that way, others just don't have it. Doing ridiculous ROTC/Navy SEAL training , running athletes into the ground, making them crawl across the field like an animal, getting in their face and calling them derogatory names doesn't develop anything, except injuries and reduced morale. You want to test their mental toughness? As my co-worker Willie Danzer says, "throw a scantron at them and have them do algebra while they run."

How many times in the huddle in overtime/extra innings/etc have you gathered your players together and said, "Guys/Gals, remember that super tough running/ROTC training we did 9 months ago? You can do anything, let's go team!". Never. Not once. Your athletes don't respond to it. They don't get better. They don't win. All you're doing is weeding out players that don't want to play for that bullshit.

You want mentally tough players? Recruit better athletes. Recruit intrinsically motivated kids. Understand the training process and developing athletes. Disregard the status quo, doing it "this way" because that's what you did 20 years ago as an athlete is a disservice to your team and this athletics program. Coach Education is desperately needed, mental toughness isn't the place to start (or maybe eliminating the thought process of developing it is the best place...).

-Christian Carter has his PhD in Sport Performance from East Tennessee State University. He has coached and worked with some of the top weightlifters in the country in addition to being a Strength & Conditioning Coach at the collegiate level for several different teams, including football, basketball, track & field, volleyball, softball, baseball, soccer, swimming & diving, and tennis. Christian is a consultant to Renaissance Periodization, specializing in weightlifting programming and working with our team sports.

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