Mental Toughness Assessment – AMERICAN BOARD of SPORT PSYCHOLOGY

Mental Toughness Assessment

CSARCS-A MEASURE CHARACTERISTICS
The following important performance relevant measures function to regulate focus, intensity and thought processes, key elements of athletic success. They can work independently or in combination to exert an influence on the way athletes respond to various competitive situations. During more routine moments of competition these measures manifest themselves more subtly and are not likely to overly facilitate of disrupt performance. However, when competitive stress increases or critical moments are encountered they can interact to enhance or hinder performance depending upon their combination or constellation. These measures also help determine what mode of mental training is most amenable to a particular athlete.

CSARCS-A MEASURE CHARACTERISTICS
The following important performance relevant measures function to regulate focus, intensity and thought processes, key elements of athletic success. They can work independently or in combination to exert an influence on the way athletes respond to various competitive situations. During more routine moments of competition these measures manifest themselves more subtly and are not likely to overly facilitate of disrupt performance. However, when competitive stress increases or critical moments are encountered they can interact to enhance or hinder performance depending upon their combination or constellation. These measures also help determine what mode of mental training is most amenable to a particular athlete.

SUBLIMINAL ATTENTION (ABSORPTION/Hypnotic Susceptibility)

Absorption is a psychological measure associated with the way we attend to external (real-world) and internal (our thoughts) stimuli. It can be considered a cognitive style relative to the way we perceive the environment, people we encounter, how we focus on tasks-at-hand and our own thoughts. Absorption is also related to hypnotic susceptibility and an emerging measure called subliminal attention. In the context of sports absorption can be considered the “focus” or “zone” factor in that high levels of this construct has been shown to facilitate intense attention or concentration on what needs to be done. It helps athletes enter that “just do it” mode, especially in the absence of negative affect/neuroticism or high levels of subliminal reactivity (see next construct) by directing attention toward sport-specific actions and away from distractions. Research has shown that athletes who are high in absorption/hypnotic susceptibility/subliminal attention are capable of concentrating well in the absence of competitive stress. Paradoxically, athletes who are low in these measures also have an enhanced ability to focus situationally, especially if they are concurrently low in negative affect/neuroticism, when critical moments arise.

SUBLIMINAL REACTIVITY (NEGATIVE AFFECT/Neuroticism)

Neuroticism/negative affect or subliminal reactivity is associated with emotional reactivity and intensity. It can be considered the “great disrupter” of zone states in that negative intrusive thoughts that are associated with high levels of this measure tend to disrupt sensitive mind-body processes that occur during sports (e.g., waiting to serve or hit a pitch; putt; shoot a free-throw). Especially in athletes who are high in hypnotic susceptibility, high levels of neuroticism lead to a shift in focus away from important tasks-at-hand onto internal thoughts (e.g., fear of losing or failing). This is most likely to occur during critical moments during competition when athletes who are high in neuroticism are most vulnerable to the consequences of competitive anxiety. It should be noted that although low levels of neuroticism are more desirable in an athlete, low levels of this measure has also been associated with under-activation or too little intensity. Consequently, athletes who possess low levels of neuroticism should be monitored physiologically prior to competition and if necessary provided an intervention to boost intensity levels.

SUBLIMINAL COPING (REPRESSIVE COPING)

Repressive coping or subliminal coping can be considered the “great protector” of focus or zone states in that it has been shown to shut down negative intrusive thoughts associated with neuroticism. Studies have demonstrated that repressive coping actually inhibits the inter-hemispheric transfer of negative affect from the right to left brain hemisphere, thereby facilitating the mind-body dynamics associated with peak performance.

OVERVIEW: Athlete’s Profile Combinations/Constellations/Interactions

The following combinations/interactions of an athlete’s level of absorption/hypnotic susceptibility-negative affect/neuroticism-repressive coping have been shown to influence critical moment performance to varying degrees. Your profile is elaborated after the assessment.

A/HS NA/N RC Critical Moments
Low
Low
Low
Neutral to Positive
Low
Low
Medium
Positive Tendancies
Low
Low
High

Ideal

Low
Medium
Low
Neutral
Low
Medium
Medium
Neutral
Low
Medium
High
Neutral to Positive
Low
High
Low

Red Flags (2)

Low
High
Medium

Red Flags (1)

Low
High
High

Red Flags (1)

Medium
Low
Low
Neutral to Positive
Medium
Low
Medium
Neutral to Positive
Medium
Low
High
Positive Tendencies
Medium
Medium
Low
Negative Tendencies
Medium
Medium
Medium
Neutral
Medium
Medium
High
Neutral
Medium
High
Low

Red Flags (2)

Medium
High
Medium

Red Flags (1)

Medium
High
High

Red Flags (1)

High
Low
Low
Positive Tendencies
High
Low
Medium
Positive Tendencies
High
Low
High

Ideal

High
Medium
Low

Red Flags (2)

High
Medium
Medium
Positive Tendencies
High
Medium
High
Positive Tendencies
High
High
Low

Least Desirable

High
High
Medium

Red Flags (1)

High
High
High

Red Flags (1)