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The Relationship Between Developmental Experiences and Mental Toughness in Adolescent Cricketers

Daniel F. Gucciardi

The present study investigated the contribution of positive and negative youth sport experiences (i.e., processes or experiences that occur in a particular activity or setting) to self-reported mental toughness among youth-aged cricketers. A sample of 308 male cricketers aged between 13 and 18 years self-reported mental toughness using the Cricket Mental Toughness Inventory (CMTI; Gucciardi & Gordon, 2009), with 187 of these cricketers also documenting their exposure to a variety of positive and negative developmental experiences. Confirmatory factor and internal reliability analyses supported the hypothesized mental toughness measurement model. Structural equation modeling analyses indicated that a variety of developmental experiences were related to various mental toughness components, with initiative experiences evidencing the strongest overall relationship with mental toughness followed by negative peer influences. The number of years playing experience and hours per week training evidenced largely insignificant relationships with the exception of desire to achieve and attentional control components of mental toughness, as well as its global factor. Collectively, these findings lend support for the validity of the CMTI as a valid measure among adolescent cricketers, and highlight the importance of initiative and interpersonal experiences for mental toughness in cricket.

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Beyond Optimal Performance: Mental Toughness Profiles and Developmental Success in Adolescent Cricketers

Daniel F. Gucciardi and Martin I. Jones

The purposes of the current study were to identify mental toughness profiles in adolescent cricketers and examine differences between these profiles on developmental assets and negative emotional states. A sample of 226 community cricketers (125 New Zealanders and 101 Australians; male n = 210) aged between 10 and 18 years (M age = 14.41 years; SD = 2.11) completed a multisection, online survey containing measures of mental toughness, developmental assets, and negative emotional states. The results of hierarchical (Ward’s method) and nonhierarchical (k means) cluster analyses revealed three mental toughness profiles characterized by low, moderate, and high levels of all five mental toughness assets (i.e., affective intelligence, desire to achieve, self-belief, attentional control, resilience). Those cricketers with high levels of mental toughness reported possession of more developmental assets and lower levels of negative emotional states when compared with cricketers with the moderate levels of mental toughness. No statistically significant differences existed between the moderate and low levels of mental toughness profiles. These findings provided preliminary evidence to suggest that mental toughness might be viewed not only from the traditional view of optimal performance but also from a stance that may represent a contextually salient representation of thriving in youth sport settings.

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Antisocial and Prosocial Behavior in Sport: The Role of Motivational Climate, Basic Psychological Needs, and Moral Disengagement

Ken Hodge and Daniel F. Gucciardi

The purpose of this investigation was to examine whether the relationships between contextual factors and basic psychological needs were related to antisocial and prosocial behavior in sport. A two-study project employing Bayesian path analysis was conducted with competitive athletes (Study 1, n = 291; Study 2, n = 272). Coach and teammate autonomy-supportive climates had meaningful direct relations with need satisfaction and prosocial behavior. Coach and teammate controlling climates had meaningful direct relations with antisocial behavior. Need satisfaction was both directly and indirectly related with both prosocial and antisocial behavior, whereas moral disengagement was directly and indirectly related with antisocial behavior. Overall, these findings reflected substantial evidence from the literature on self-determination theory that autonomy-supportive motivational climates are important environmental influences for need satisfaction, and are important correlates of prosocial behavior in sport, whereas controlling coach and teammate climates, along with moral disengagement, were important correlates of antisocial behavior in sport.

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Revisiting the Performance Profile Technique: Theoretical Underpinnings and Application

Daniel F. Gucciardi and Sandy Gordon

The performance profile technique (Butler, 1989, 1991), which stems from a personal construct psychology (PCP; Kelly, 1955/1991) framework, has become a useful methodology for identifying and understanding an athlete’s perceived need for areas of improvement. Despite the popularity of this technique, current descriptions and practices fail to appreciate key tenets of PCP which offer a greater insight into one’s perspective. Accordingly, the purposes of this paper are to revisit the performance profile technique and describe an extension of its current form by drawing on these key PCP tenets as well as providing an example of the revised methodology in practice. Following a brief overview of PCP, we outline two key tenets of this theoretical framework that have guided the revised version of the performance profile technique presented here. We conclude with a case example of the new methodology in practice using an Australian footballer’s perception of mental toughness.

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Tripartite Efficacy Profiles: A Cluster Analytic Investigation of Athletes’ Perceptions of Their Relationship With Their Coach

Ben Jackson, Daniel F. Gucciardi, and James A. Dimmock

Recent studies of coach–athlete interaction have explored the bivariate relationships between each of the tripartite efficacy constructs (self-efficacy; other-efficacy; relation-inferred self-efficacy, or RISE) and various indicators of relationship quality. This investigation adopted an alternative approach by using cluster analyses to identify tripartite efficacy profiles within a sample of 377 individual sport athletes (M age = 20.25, SD = 2.12), and examined how individuals in each cluster group differed in their perceptions about their relationship with their coach (i.e., commitment, satisfaction, conflict). Four clusters emerged: High (n = 128), Moderate (n = 95), and Low (n = 78) profiles, in which athletes reported relatively high, moderate, or low scores across all tripartite perceptions, respectively, as well as an Unfulfilled profile (n = 76) in which athletes held relatively high self-efficacy, but perceived lower levels of other-efficacy and RISE. Multivariate analyses revealed differences between the clusters on all relationship variables that were in line with theory. These results underscore the utility of considering synergistic issues in the examination of the tripartite efficacy framework.

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Toward a Multidimensional Model of Athletes’ Commitment to Coach-Athlete Relationships and Interdependent Sport Teams: A Substantive-Methodological Synergy

Ben Jackson, Daniel F. Gucciardi, and James A. Dimmock

Drawing from a three-factor model of organizational commitment, we sought to provide validity evidence for a multidimensional conceptualization designed to capture adolescent athletes’ commitment to their coach–athlete relationship or their team. In Study 1, 335 individual-sport athletes (M age = 17.32, SD = 1.38) completed instruments assessing affective, normative, and continuance commitment to their relationship with their coach, and in Study 2, contextually modified instruments were administered to assess interdependent-sport athletes’ (N = 286, M age = 16.31, SD = 1.33) commitment to their team. Bayesian structural equation modeling revealed support for a three-factor (in comparison with a single-factor) model, along with relations between commitment dimensions and relevant correlates (e.g., satisfaction, return intentions, cohesion) that were largely consistent with theory. Guided by recent advancements in Bayesian modeling, these studies provide a new commitment instrument with the potential for use and refinement in team- and relationship-based settings and offer preliminary support for a conceptual framework that may help advance our understanding of the factors underpinning individuals’ engagement in sport.

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Adolescent Performers’ Perspectives on Mental Toughness and Its Development: The Utility of the Bioecological Model

John W. Mahoney, Daniel F. Gucciardi, Clifford J. Mallett, and Nikos Ntoumanis

In light of the extant literature, the aim of the current study was to compare adolescents’ perspectives on mental toughness and its development across performance contexts, and to explore if such perspectives align with Bronfenbrenner’s (2001) bioecological model. Eighteen mentally tough adolescents (9 boys, 9 girls, Mage = 15.6 years) from three performance contexts (i.e., sport, academia, and music) participated in focus groups, 7 of whom also participated in follow-up one-to-one interviews. Inductive analyses revealed that mental toughness was conceptualized by 9 personal characteristics, and that while similar across performance contexts, some difference between previous mental toughness conceptualization and the current study existed. Analyses also revealed that mental toughness development was predicated on significant others, supportive social processes, critical incidents, and curiosity. These findings resonated with the properties of the bioecological model. Future research into how bioecological factors combine to facilitate mental toughness development during critical stages of life was suggested.

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Cross-Cultural Invariance of the Mental Toughness Inventory Among Australian, Chinese, and Malaysian Athletes: A Bayesian Estimation Approach

Daniel F. Gucciardi, Chun-Qing Zhang, Vellapandian Ponnusamy, Gangyan Si, and Andreas Stenling

The aims of this study were to assess the cross-cultural invariance of athletes’ self-reports of mental toughness and to introduce and illustrate the application of approximate measurement invariance using Bayesian estimation for sport and exercise psychology scholars. Athletes from Australia (n = 353, M age = 19.13, SD = 3.27, men = 161), China (n = 254, M age = 17.82, SD = 2.28, men = 138), and Malaysia (n = 341, M age = 19.13, SD = 3.27, men = 200) provided a cross-sectional snapshot of their mental toughness. The cross-cultural invariance of the mental toughness inventory in terms of (a) the factor structure (configural invariance), (b) factor loadings (metric invariance), and (c) item intercepts (scalar invariance) was tested using an approximate measurement framework with Bayesian estimation. Results indicated that approximate metric and scalar invariance was established. From a methodological standpoint, this study demonstrated the usefulness and flexibility of Bayesian estimation for single-sample and multigroup analyses of measurement instruments. Substantively, the current findings suggest that the measurement of mental toughness requires cultural adjustments to better capture the contextually salient (emic) aspects of this concept.

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Perfectionistic Profiles Among Elite Athletes and Differences in Their Motivational Orientations

Daniel F. Gucciardi, John Mahoney, Geoffrey Jalleh, Robert J. Donovan, and Jarred Parkes

Although there is an emerging body of research that has examined perfectionistic clusters in the general population, few studies have explored such profiles in athlete samples. The purposes of this research were to explore perfectionistic profiles within a sample of elite athletes and the differences between them on key motivational variables. A sample of 423 elite athletes (179 males, 244 females) aged between 14 and 66 years (M = 25.64; SD = 8.57) from a variety of team (e.g., rowing, hockey, baseball, rugby) and individual sports (e.g., cycling, athletics, triathlon, gymnastics) completed a multisection questionnaire including measures of sport perfectionism, motivation regulation, achievement goals, and fear of failure. Cluster analyses revealed the existence of three perfectionism profiles, namely, nonperfectionists, maladaptive perfectionists, and adaptive perfectionists. Subsequent analyses generally supported the robustness of these perfectionism profiles in terms of differential motivational orientations (achievement goals, fear of failure, and motivation regulation) in hypothesized directions. Overall, the differences in motivational orientations between the three clusters supported a categorical conceptualization of perfectionism.

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Mental Toughness in Sport: Motivational Antecedents and Associations With Performance and Psychological Health

John W. Mahoney, Daniel F. Gucciardi, Nikos Ntoumanis, and Cliff J. Mallet

We argue that basic psychological needs theory (BPNT) offers impetus to the value of mental toughness as a mechanism for optimizing human functioning. We hypothesized that psychological needs satisfaction (thwarting) would be associated with higher (lower) levels of mental toughness, positive affect, and performance and lower (higher) levels of negative affect. We also expected that mental toughness would be associated with higher levels of positive affect and performance and lower levels of negative affect. Further, we predicted that coaching environments would be related to mental toughness indirectly through psychological needs and that psychological needs would indirectly relate with performance and affect through mental toughness. Adolescent cross-country runners (136 male and 85 female, M age = 14.36) completed questionnaires pertaining to BPNT variables, mental toughness, and affect. Race times were also collected. Our findings supported our hypotheses. We concluded that BPNT is generative in understanding some of the antecedents and consequences of mental toughness and is a novel framework useful for understanding mental toughness.