Mental toughness is a factor related to performance, better coping, and increased confidence. There has been a growing trend toward assessing mental toughness behaviorally. The purpose of this paper was to develop a behavioral assessment of mental toughness in volleyball. Following a five-stage process to develop a systematic observation instrument, the current study identified 10 mental toughness behaviors in volleyball, specifically, six behaviors occurring during a play and four behaviors after a play (i.e., when a point is scored from the opposing team). Furthermore, eight behaviors represent mentally tough actions, while two behaviors represent mentally weak actions. The results indicate that the behavioral checklist is a reliable systematic observation instrument. Coaches and certified mental performance consultants can benefit from using this checklist by discussing mental toughness and behaviors corresponding to mental toughness during game play, and then have a quantifiable way to track behaviors with individuals and volleyball teams.
Psychological skills such as goal setting, imagery, relaxation and self-talk have been used in performance enhancement, emotional regulation, and increasing one’s confidence and/or motivation in sport. These skills can also be applied with athletes during recovery from injury in the rehabilitation setting or in preseason meetings for preventing injury. Research on psychological skill use with athletes has shown that such skills have helped reduce negative psychological outcomes, improve coping skills, and reduce reinjury anxiety (Evans & Hardy, 2002; Johnson, 2000; Mankad & Gordon, 2010). Although research has been limited in psychological skill implementation with injured athletes, these skills can be used when working with injured athletes or in the prevention of injury. Injured athletes may use psychological skills such as setting realistic goals in coming back from injury, imagery to facilitate rehabilitation, and relaxation techniques to deal with pain management. In prevention of injury, the focus is on factors that put an individual at-risk for injury. Thus, teaching strategies of goal setting, imagery, relaxation techniques, and attention/focus can be instrumental in preparing athletes for a healthy season.
Leilani Madrigal and Diane L. Gill
Using the Integrated Model of Response to Sport Injury as a theoretical framework, athletes’ psychological strengths and emotional responses were explored throughout the injury process using a case study approach. Four Division I athletes completed measures of mental toughness, hardiness, and optimism before their season (time 1), once they became injured (time 2), midway through rehabilitation (time 3), and when they were cleared to participate (time 4). Coping behavior, psychological response, and rehabilitation adherence were recorded at time 2–time 4, while recovering. In addition, interviews were conducted after time 4. Mental toughness, hardiness, and optimism varied over time and across cases, with broad individual differences in response to injury. Athletes experienced a loss of athletic identity combined with feelings of guilt and helplessness over the initial stages of injury, but positive experiences were also found. All cases also reported playing through injury. Understanding the psychological strengths and responses of athletes can help professionals work with injured athletes.
Patrick B. Wilson and Leilani A. Madrigal
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) have important physiological functions and may offer select benefits for athletic performance and recovery. The purpose of this investigation was to assess dietary and whole blood omega-3 PUFAs among collegiate athletes. In addition, a brief questionnaire was evaluated as a valid tool for quantifying omega-3 PUFA intake. Fifty-eight athletes (9 males, 49 females) completed a 21-item questionnaire developed to assess omega-3 PUFA intake and provided dried whole blood samples to quantify α-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and the HS-Omega-3 Index. Geometric means (95% confidence intervals) for the HS-Omega-3 Index were 4.79% (4.37–5.25%) and 4.75% (4.50–5.01%) for males and females, respectively. Median dietary intakes of ALA, EPA, and DHA were all below 100 mg. Among females, several dietary omega-3 PUFA variables were positively associated with whole blood EPA, with total EPA (rho = 0.67, p < .001) and total DHA (rho = 0.69, p < .001) intakes showing the strongest correlations. Whole blood DHA among females showed positive associations with dietary intakes, with total EPA (rho = 0.62, p < .001) and total DHA (rho = 0.64, p < .001) intakes demonstrating the strongest correlations. The HS-Omega-3 Index in females was positively correlated with all dietary variables except ALA. Among males, the only significant correlation was between food and whole blood EPA (rho = 0.83, p < .01). Collegiate athletes had relatively low intakes of omega-3 PUFAs. A 21-item questionnaire may be useful for screening female athletes for poor omega-3 PUFA status.
Leilani Madrigal, Sharon Hamill and Diane L. Gill
Mental Toughness (MT), which refers to an inner focus and commitment to rise above challenges when facing adversity, is viewed as one of the most important psychological attributes in determining success in sport. However, there is little consensus on key components of MT, and existing measures vary greatly while focusing on elite athletes. The purpose of this research was to develop a measure of MT for use with college athletes. Collegiate and noncollegiate athletes (N = 271) completed the original 54-item Mental Toughness Scale (MTS) in study 1. Factor analysis (PCA) results reduced the scale to an 11-item scale, with good reliability and validity as demonstrated by its positive correlations with self-esteem and flow. A second study of college basketball players (N = 143) was conducted to establish the psychometric properties of the MTS. Study 2 demonstrated convergent, divergent and criterion validity through correlations with related measures, and a CFA provided moderate support for the MTS as a one-dimensional measure of mental toughness in sport.
Leilani A. Madrigal and Patrick B. Wilson
This study assessed the hormonal and psychological responses to a free-throw shooting competition in twelve NCAA Division I female collegiate basketball players. Salivary cortisol, alpha-amylase, and testosterone were collected before and after the competition, in addition to a self-reported measure of anxiety. Using nonparametric statistics, cortisol (Z = –3.06, p = .002) and testosterone (Z = –2.67, p = .008) levels were significantly higher precompetition compared with postcompetition. There were no statistically significant differences between winners and losers for anxiety or hormone responses. Concentration disruption (rho = .63, p = .03) and total competitive anxiety (rho = .68, p = .02) were positively correlated with precompetition cortisol. Concentration disruption also correlated positively with postcompetition cortisol (rho = .62 p = .03) and postcompetition testosterone (rho = .64, p = .03). Future studies are needed to examine the psychological and physiological stress responses of basketball players during different competition tasks.
Leilani Madrigal, Katherine Wurst and Diane L. Gill
In this study, we explored mental toughness, injury response, and coping among female athletes in roller derby (n = 68) and collegiate rugby (n = 122). Participants completed a survey with measures of mental toughness, hardiness, optimism, coping with injury and psychological response to injury, as well as questions regarding injury status. Injured roller derby players had a more negative response to injury than injured rugby players, but did not differ on mental toughness. Mental toughness was related to approach styles of coping and negatively related to adverse psychological responses to injury. Rugby players who would play through injury reported higher mental toughness than those who would not play through injury; however, the reverse was found for roller derby players. Mental toughness is related to adaptive coping and positive injury response, but also to engaging in activity when injured, with potential detrimental effects.
Leilani Madrigal, Jamie Robbins, Diane L. Gill and Katherine Wurst
Collegiate rugby is a competitive, collision sport, yet insufficient empirical evidence exists regarding participants’ perspectives on pain and injury. This study addressed male and female rugby players’ experiences with injury, and their views about playing through pain and injury. Eleven rugby players (five male; six female) competing in USA Rugby’s National College 7’s tournament participated in semistructured interviews, which were recorded, transcribed, and content-analyzed. Two major themes emerged: passion for sport and sport ethic. Passion for sport was composed of (a) love of the sport, (b) meaning of the sport, and (c) desire to be on the field. Sport ethic included: (a) helping the team, (b) game time sacrifice, (c) personality, (d) minimize, and (e) accepted behavior. The researchers explain these findings and propose strategies for increasing future athletes’ understanding of the dangers associated with playing through pain, and confronting the currently accepted culture of risk.
Leilani A. Madrigal, Vincenzo Roma, Todd Caze, Arthur Maerlender and Debra Hope
This study aimed to provide further psychometric validation of the Sport Anxiety Scale-2 (SAS-2) by assessing the factor structure, invariance across gender, and convergent and divergent validity of the SAS-2 by correlating both related (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, brief fear of negative evaluation, intolerance of uncertainty, and negative affect) and unrelated constructs (i.e., positive affect, self-confidence). A total of 542 current and former competitive athletes completed a questionnaire through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk system. All data were collected via online survey. Participants were randomly assigned to an exploratory factor analysis (n = 271) and confirmatory factor analysis group (n = 271). Results indicated that both exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses supported the three-factor model of anxiety involving somatic anxiety, worry, and concentration disruption. Additionally, this study found the SAS-2 to be reliable, gender invariant, and have strong construct validity. Our findings extend the generalizability of the SAS-2 in more varied populations of athletic backgrounds.