When the going gets tough: Mental toughness and its relationship with behavioural perseverance

This study investigate the relationship between self-reported mental toughness and behavioural perseverance among a sample of male Australian footballers in a naturalistic context. 330 male Australian footballers aged between 15 and 18 years (M=16.86; SD=.71) with between 2 and 14 years playing experience (M=9.32; SD=2.51) participated. Initially, footballers completed a mental toughness questionnaire, before having their height and body mass measurements taken. Subsequently, a performance testing session was completed, which included the 20m sprint, Australian football-specific agility run, vertical jump, and the MST. Bayesian estimation was used to allow for the simultaneous examination of existing findings with our new data in a way that provides an automatic meta-analysis of evidence in this area. The analysis indicated a 95% probability that the association between mental toughness and behavioural perseverance lies between .14 and .34, even when controlling for other factors known to affect MST performance, including age, height, body mass, and years playing experience.

Taken together with previous research, these findings support the theoretical proposition that persistence, effort or perseverance represents a behavioural indicator of mental toughness.