Mental Toughness 2 – The Cricket-Specific Mental Toughness Framework

So having a working definition of mental toughness, and some insights into its genesis, how does mental toughness apply in cricket?  In 2003 the E.C.B.’s Sport Psychology Support Team under the leadership of Stephen J. Bull set out to answer two questions;

1. To develop a deeper understanding of what mental toughness is within cricket.

2. To identify how existing mentally tough cricketers developed their mental toughness.

The research team asked 101 English cricket coaches to name the ten English cricketers they considered to be the mentally toughest of the previous twenty years.  From the resultant list, a total of fifteen of the most mentally tough cricketers were selected for the research.

The methodology used was very similar to that of Jones et al featured in the previous piece. This was another qualitative study, using a mixture of one-on-one interviews and group brainstorming sessions.

I’ll spare you a detailed breakdown of their results, because if you need them you can download the paper for free – here.

What is important to us is the Mental Toughness framework, that they developed based upon their research, which you will notice bears close similarity to the results of Jones et al’s  outcomes.

The framework develops five ‘General Dimensions’, twenty ‘Global Themes’ and four Structural categories.

Here is my reproduction of the framework

Global Dimension Global Theme Structural Category
Development factors Parental influence Environmental influence
Childhood background Environmental influence
Personal responsibility Exposure to foreign cricket Environmental influence
Independence Tough character
Self-reflection Tough character
Competitiveness with self as well as with others Tough character
Exploit learning opportunities Tough attitudes
Belief in quality preparation Tough attitudes
Self-set challenge targets Tough attitudes
Dedication and commitment Opportunities to survive early setbacks Environmental influence
Needing to “earn” success Environmental influence
“Never say die” mind-set Tough attitudes
“Go the extra mile” mind-set Tough attitudes
Determination to make the most of ability Tough attitudes
Belief Resilient confidence Tough thinking
Belief in making the difference Tough attitudes
Robust self-confidence – overcoming self-doubt/feeding off physical condition/maintain self-focus Tough thinking
Coping with pressure Thrive on competition Tough attitudes
Willing to take risks Tough attitudes
Thinking clearly – good decision making/keeping perspective/honest self-appraisal Tough thinking

‘The Mental Toughness Framework’ from Stephen J. Bull et al 2004

This framework is not in itself revolutionary, however it is unique in that it gives a cricket-specific explanation of the development of mental toughness, and it also gives us new insights into how those factors interrelate.

I will discuss the consequences of the framework in the next piece.

o0o

Bibliography

Towards an Understanding of Mental Toughness in Elite English Cricketers, Stephen J. Bull, Christopher J. Shambrook, Wil James, Jocelyne E. Brooks. Journal of Applied Sports Psychology, 17:209-227, 2005

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