Mental toughness among competitive South African tennis players : the role of resilience, self-awareness and stress.
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The purpose of the present study was to explore the role, relevance, and interrelatedness of selected psychological constructs, self-awareness, resilience, and stress, to mental toughness (MT) in competitive tennis. The constructs were examined using the Self-Reflection and Insight Scale, the Resilience Scale for Adults, the Recovery-Stress Questionnaire for Athletes, and the Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire, respectively. A total of 365 South African competitive tennis players from diverse gender, ethnic, geographical, and competitive standard backgrounds completed the self-administered questionnaires. The results indicated strong positive relationships between self-awareness, resilience and MT and a strong negative association between stress and MT. The findings indicated a negative relationship between resilience and stress and resilience (as well as resilience subscales) did not significantly moderate the MT-total stress relationship. In addition, the path analysis results revealed a substantial degree of interrelatedness between resilience and MT. The findings suggest that self-awareness components are associated with high mentally tough competitive tennis players, possibly denoting self-awareness as a component of MT. As anticipated, mentally tough tennis players are likely to report lower stress levels and higher resilience levels, with significations that resilience and MT share some common components and may overlap in several areas despite being distinct psychological constructs. Based on the results, prospective intervention efforts and directions for developing MT are described. The implications for understanding the composition and process of MT, the potential capacity to develop MT through intervention efforts, and the distinctions between MT and other closely associated psychological constructs are outlined, with potential areas for further research posited, including additional sport-specific investigations, MT training and intervention studies, and MT instrument development and validation efforts.