Measuring Mental Toughness In Sport As Well As Mental Health
Mental toughness in sports is frequently spoken about but rarely measured. The Mental Toughness Questionnaire for Athletes and Players (MTQ-A) below resolves this. It is a simple way for competitors to gain insight into the mental aspects of what they do. It will assess both the mental aspects of your sport (Mental Toughness) and overall mental health and wellbeing. NOTE: If you want to provide access to the MTQ-A for your entire squad or organisation, please email [email protected] instead so that we can tailor the questionnaire to your organisation and needs.
If you are not an athlete/player, complete the Questionnaire that best describes your role from the options here instead. The questionnaire takes about 10 minutes to complete. Once submitted, you’ll be contacted by one of the team with a summary of your results within 24 hours.
This Mental Toughness Questionnaire is available to all athletes/players for free. ‘Insight’ is often the first step to ‘improvement’ regardless of whether you are considering getting professional assistance or not.
The Development of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire for Athletes
“I have been struck again and again by how important measurement is to improving the human condition”Bill Gates
Okay, I’ll admit it – we’re a little jealous of professionals who assist athletes with the physical side of performance. Tests like the VO2 max for cardiovascular endurance. Stretch and reach tests measure the flexibility of various body regions. Even the humble bathroom scales to determine body weight don’t have objective mental equivalents.
Assessing mental toughness is so tricky that we didn’t even attempt it when we first started in 2005. In those days, we preferred to ask a series of questions at the start of the coaching journey. But if not bothering because it’s too hard is something we did frequently, we’d be in the wrong business. So, over the years, we have tried to improve how we assess the areas we help our clients with.
It’s worth quickly explaining that there is no direct way to measure anything psychological. We can try to assess several areas via questions and/or observations. However, any results will act as a “guide” to one or more psychological variables.
Most Psychometrics Are Subjective
The exception to this would be a formal intelligence test (such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale). Although it would be easy to fake a poor score on the WAIS (by giving incorrect answers on purpose), it would not be possible to get a high score without actually possessing those mental abilities. This makes tests such as the WAIS more objective than most other psychometrics, which rely on opinions. Unfortunately, knowing how intelligent someone is isn’t that useful in our work.
With the luxury of time (rare), the reliability of the MTQ-A answers can be improved via additional observation. Observing athletes in real situations can be invaluable. Imagine how useful it is to watch a tennis player smash her racket during a match. And compare this with just a couple of questions about her emotions.
But just because the answers are opinions doesn’t render these tools useless by any means. It’s just we need to be mindfulness of their relative subjectivity when interpreting the results.
What Exactly Are We Trying To Measure?
This question is great when choosing, designing, or reviewing any psychological assessment. At Condor Performance, we have always believed that the main purpose of questionnaires is to save time. Instead of spending that first 30 minutes with the client finding out what makes them tick, we already have some idea. This allows us to move on to ‘solutions’ much earlier in the process.
What we’re most eager to learn before and during the journey falls into four general groups.
- Mental aspects of training
- Mental aspects of competing (if competing)
- General functioning / mental health and wellbeing
- Other important stuff like age, sport and long-term goals
Why we measure mental aspects of performance and mental health separately is explained in this separate post.
The open and closed questions then generate scores for the various subcomponents of mental toughness. This provides the sport psychologist or performance psychologist with incredible insight into how to assist this performer. For example, the conversation and suggested solutions for an athlete who has high motivation but poor focus levels will be very different compared with if those two areas were the other way around.
Screening for Mental Health Issues
Mental Health is also assessed (screened) due to the inclusion of The Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21) at the end of our Mental Toughness Questionnaires. Because 99% of our work is done 1-on-1, we can work on mental toughness and mental health simultaneously without pretending they are the same thing!