What’s Most Important to Know about Mental Toughness 

Mental toughness is a process of practice, growth and improvement. 

By Mim Haigh, Sports Writer – Athlete Assessments

Mental toughness, resilience and grit, are all mental skills or qualities, which lie on a continuum; meaning some people begin with a little while others begin with a lot. What’s most important to know is that either way, we are all capable of developing a greater capacity or increasing our level of mental skill and toughness. 

The key is understanding and practice. Practicing the elements which contribute to mental toughness enable it to grow. Mental skills can be developed safely in athletes of any age that perform at any level. It’s important to know that it can be learned and grown. Mental toughness falls into the same category as sacrifice, love, and honor, people prefer to learn about it from someone with lived experience rather than academic knowledge that’s detached from real-life. 

Bo Hanson, author of Athlete Tough, is a 3 x Olympic medalist, 4 x Olympian and international coaching consultant. He developed Athlete Tough in response to constant requests from coaches for a step-by-step program to develop mental skills in their athletes. Hanson works with teams all over the world and his ability to improve coaching strategies and performance with clients has resulted in over 18 National Championships, Olympic medals and Pro team Premierships in the last five years alone.

Hanson understands, embodies and continues to live the process of growth and improvement. His coaching and performance strategies build on athlete potential. In the Athlete Tough program, Hanson gives athletes and coaches the tools to grow and develop mental strategies that will improve their performance.

He knows just how crucial the process of improvement is. As a schoolboy athlete, Hanson did not win a single race and just two short years later, he was the youngest athlete to represent Australia in rowing at the Barcelona Olympics. These Olympics were his first and began a 20-year journey which included four Olympics and every World and National Championship in between. During this time, Hanson studied management training and development at the University of Technology, Sydney while he built layer upon layer of experience performing under pressure, producing results on the world stage with different groups of people, different teams and different coaches.

Hanson explains that Athlete Tough is the culmination of his experience as an athlete, coach and consultant; and the tools and tactics that he’s been using himself and with clients over the last two decades.  

The Athlete Tough program is designed to ensure your athletes never give up, never quit on their team and never quit on themselves. It delivers proven strategies on how to help your athletes become and stay mentally strong. 

It has been developed specifically with the coach and athlete in mind, so it isn’t filled with distracting, long-winded theory or out of touch anecdotes. Instead, it takes the theory you need to know and explains it in terms you and your athletes will understand and more importantly, shows you how to put it into practice. 

The Athlete Tough program includes a practical handbook that looks and feels more like a magazine, and an accompanying video series to make it multi-media. Coaches print a copy of the workbook for each of their athletes, so they can take advantage of the cost savings of not having to purchase hard-cover books. 

Hanson says, “we deliberately created a program that was practical and easy for coaches to implement. It’s a step-by-step program that coaches can work through with their athletes. The workbook has 15 chapters and most clients have scheduled an hour or so of dedicated time to go through a chapter each week over as many weeks.”

Topics covered in Athlete Tough include Staying in The Game, Teaching Toughness and Staying Tough Under Pressure. The program takes the theory Coaches and athletes need to know and explains it in a way that’s easy to understand. The activities, projects, fun exercises and reflection journaling, cover the content in-depth while keeping it interesting for this generation of athletes and most importantly, practical. 

Feedback from around the world shows how this is happening. Tino Fusco, Head Coach of Women’s Soccer at Mount Royal University in Canada says, “We used the videos as a starting point for team discussions and then related the concepts to our own specific areas of need.” 

A Division I rowing coach from the US said, “Our athletes loved working through the book with the coaches.  We used Saturday mornings to go through one or two chapters with the coaches facilitating the sessions.  There was a marked difference in the team dynamic and resiliency during the season.”  

Shea Cunningham, a Netball Coach from Victoria, Australia shared, “In just a few short weeks, (our team) have increased their communication, are starting to hold each other accountable, and are raising their expectations of not only themselves but each other. The online videos really help to drum home the messages throughout this program. It allowed the players to hear from someone else other than the coaching staff. Seeing the light bulb moments, the determination, and the start of their self-belief has been amazing.” 

So how does an athlete become Athlete Tough?

If you want to know more about how to help your athletes build mental toughness and resilience so they can perform at their best under pressure, you should check out our program – ATHLETE TOUGH. Our Handbook & Video Series was produced by 4 x Olympian and 3 x Olympic Medalist, Bo Hanson, to answer the call of Coaches wanting to know how they can build mental toughness in their athletes. We have dedicated 15 chapters to proven strategies that will help your athletes become, and stay, ATHLETE TOUGH. Visit this link for more information and to view a sample chapter and video!

Where to from here?

If you want to read more on mental toughness and becoming ATHLETE TOUGH, we recommend the following articles.

Ready to become ATHLETE TOUGH?

  • ATHLETE TOUGH™ Handbook & Video Series contains critical, non-negotiable activities for you to complete.
  • All it takes is some discipline and accountability.
  • By completing these activities, the actual act of committing to do them, begins your development to become ATHLETE TOUGH™.
  • Those who are diligent, focused and disciplined to do the exercises and challenge their current limits are going to become tougher. I can guarantee this.
  • Be disciplined. Be accountable to yourself. Team up with a buddy.
  • Do what it takes and you will become ATHLETE TOUGH™.

Look Inside ATHLETE TOUGH

Want a taste of what it takes to be ATHLETE TOUGH?
Download your FREE copy of the ‘9 Things Tough Athletes Do’ Workbook now.

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