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Mentally tough teams in professional Rugby Union : important factors, processes and mechanisms

The aim of this research is to further enhance our understanding of the construct mental toughness in professional rugby union teams. While mental toughness is synonymous with sporting success, considerable ambiguity exists concerning what it actually is, how it is developed and, most pertinently in the demanding environment of professional rugby, how it can be elicited on a game-to-game basis. To achieve these aims, an initial semi-structured interview-based study with nine elite players and three elite coaches explored their understanding of mental toughness. The results highlight that mental toughness involves player-specific processes and coaching processes along with an emphasis upon group processes. Building on these results, a second interview-based study was conducted with five super-elite coaches. The results from this cohort reaffirm the importance of group identity in consistently eliciting mental toughness. The results highlight the integral role that the coach plays in challenging group standards and in fostering togetherness and respect. Moreover, the results identify processes that coaches may utilise in developing, integrating and harnessing mentally tough leaders, the alignment of formal leaders and, crucially, how coaches communicate mentally tough messages to their players via the media. In conclusion, in order to elicit mental toughness in rugby union the coach needs to manage the multiple messages within the team environment that enhances group identity and the motivation to act mentally tough. In this regard, in order to elicit mental toughness in a rugby team on a consistent basis, it is essential that the coach is aware of, and manages, individual processes, coaching processes and, most importantly, the wider environment and social milieu. This requires coaches to create an aligned leadership and to manage the multiple messages that players receive, including those from the media, in order to create a mentally tough mindset.
Date January 2018
CreatorsMcIvor, Stephen
PublisherUniversity of Central Lancashire
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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