Elite Swimming Coaches’ Perceptions of Mental Toughness

in The Sport Psychologist

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Andrew P. DriskaMichigan State University

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Cindra KamphoffMinnesota State University Mankato

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Suzannah Mork ArmentroutMinnesota State University Mankato

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Using the mental toughness framework of Jones, Hanton and Connaughton (2007), the authors interviewed thirteen highly-experienced swimming coaches in a two-part study to determine the specific mental toughness subcomponents present in mentally tough swimmers, and to examine the factors that led swimmers to develop mental toughness. Interviews were transcribed and analyzed using methods outlined by Creswell (2007). While confirming eleven of thirteen subcomponents of mental toughness previously identified by Jones et al. (2007), the participants identified (a) “coachability” and (b) “retaining psychological control on poor training days” as previously unidentified subcomponents of mental toughness. In the second part of the study, the authors identified six higher-order themes describing how both the coach and the swimmer acted to develop mental toughness in the swimmer. Implications for researchers, swimming coaches, and sport psychology consultants are discussed.

Driska is with the Dept. of Kinesiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI. Kamphoff and Armentrout are with the Dept. of Human Performance, Minnesota State University, Mankato, Mankato, MN.

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