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Ralph Teller

Mental Toughness and Mental Strength

by Ralph Teller

Mental toughness and strength is an important characteristic for athletes to acquire on the journey to reaching their Ideal Performance State and peak performance in sports.

Mental Fitness is the result of mental fitness training. It is a characteristic that we all can acquire. This strength is not something that you do once, any more than you can get physically fit by one lap around the track. Mental fitness is a way of looking at your psychological health as important as your physical health.

Mental strength is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to:

1. Generally cope better than your opponents with the many demands (e.g., competition, training, lifestyle) that are placed on you as a performer.

2. Specifically, to be more consistent and better than your opponents in remaining determined, focused, confident, resilient, and in control under pressure.

Mental fitness training is not just for athletes to improve performance. Mental fitness training helps people cope with everyday problems and prevents these problems from overwhelming us. The resiliency that comes with mental strength is a way of thinking that allows us not to fall into self-defeating traps.

Eleven Characteristics of Mental Strength

Mental strength can be characterized by set of behavoirs and beliefs about yourself, your objectives and how you interact. 


"The harder you work the harder it is to surrender." by Vince Lombardi

Competitors find a way to win. They take setbacks and failure to drive themselves that much harder. Competitors don't quit and refuse to loose! 


Confident athletes have a very positive can do attitude. They believe they can handle whatever comes their way.


"You are really never playing an opponent. You are playing yourself." by Arthur Ashe

Successful athletes have learned to control their emotions and behavoir. Their focus is on what they can control instead of things outside of their control. Mentally tough athletes have learned the ability to maintain emotional control even under the greatest of pressure and under the most difficult of circumstances and conditions. The best athletes are in full control of their capacity and can command the control of events.

Personal control is a recognition that you can't always control what happens, but you can control how you react.

Mental strength comes from the realization that your success depends upon many things, but mostly depends upon you. It flows from the power and inner excellence of personal responsibility where success or failure is yours alone!


"Each of us has a fire in out hearts for something. It's our goal in life to find it and keep it lit." by Mary Lou Retton

Mentally tough athletes are determined and committed to success. These athletes want to succeed more than their competitors and are willing to commit the necessary time and dedication to win.


Mental toughness requires athletes to maintain composure when the pressure is on. They have learned to maintain an ease amidst chaos.


Mentally tough athletes are willing and courage to take risks. They have the courage to push their personal limits and capabilities and push the limits reached by the winners before them.


Strength is born in the Spiritual Capacity that provides a powerful source of motivation, determination and endurance. Deep Emotional Capacity is the heart that drives Toughness. 


"I won't even call a friend the day of a match. I'm scared of disrupting my concentration." by Chris Evert

Mentally strong athletes focus their time and enery on achieving their goals and dreams. These athlete have the concentration to develop highly focused Mental Imagery Skills. Come game day, the best athletes reach a state of highly sharp concentration to perform at their best.


"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." by Will Rogers

Mental strength comes from consistent training. See Chris Harig's Running with Consistency to Run Faster.


Mental toughness is honing down on every detail about your sport. Lance Armstrong became as expert in natural nutritional intake for desired output and recovery. Lance drilled down on every aspect of his sport and became as good a nutritionist as he was a cyclist. Lance also sought to constantly seek ways to learn and improve his knowledge of cycling and ways to improve his performance.


"Challenges make life interesting, however, overcoming them is what makes life meaningful." by Mark Twain

Maintain a challenging attitude! 

More about Ralph Teller. See Ralph's 1Vigor Log Calendar.

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Articles on Mental Toughness

What is Mental Toughness and How to Develop It?, by David Yukelson, Ph.D., Penn State University

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