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How Important is ‘Self-Awareness’ when building Mental Toughness?

The simple answer too often given to someone directly asking this type of question is “It depends”, but realistically this is won’t be helpful to hear. Instead let me explain why my answer to the question above is “Very”, self awareness is hugely beneficial to the coach and “Not overly”, self awareness isn’t paramount to a player.


A coach should acknowledge the vast array of different theories, how they interlock and how they can affect players. When the coach is aware of these they can lean into the theories that fit their philosophy best. The reason this matters is because when building mental toughness, the coach will need to be able to point the player towards the appropriate source. Therefore, having the self-awareness to not only accept that you (As the coach) don’t have the answer, and then direct the player to a source that can help is beyond important. In truth it is a crucial step for the player to develop autonomy in their mental toughness journey.


Self-awareness is useful but not paramount for a player building mental toughness. Knowing you need help is all the self-awareness you need. Mental toughness is a personalised journey full of set backs and only through finding your own personal toolkit can you tackle your obstacles. Rather than trying to solve your issue for you, a good coach will help you find the tools you need to solve whatever you are facing.


So, to the coaches I challenge you to be brave, approach unfamiliar topics and question the theories you have adopted. And to the players I suggest you hold your coaches to a very high standard of self awareness by asking difficult questions regularly.


‘Mental Toughness in Sport’ by Gucciardi and Gordon has a number of worthwhile research articles and touch on how to manipulate an environment to promote mental toughness.


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