SPUSA 20 years

5 ways to develop your mental Toughness

What is mental toughness?

“Mental toughness is the ability to respond well to doubts, worries, concerns and circumstances that make it more difficult to succeed, or excel at a task or towards an objective or a performance outcome that you set out to achieve.”

The term “mental toughness” has long been used in Sport Psychology. 

Mental toughness skills are an asset to have in all areas of life. Those that train and own the quality we call “mental toughness” easily rise to positions of authority and leadership in business, athletics, show business, in addition to excelling in their personal lives.

We spoke to Sports Psychologist and former Pepperdine All-American and Wimbledon competitor, Dr Anthony Ross, who has outlined some easy steps you can take to increase your mental toughness!

Connect with Purpose

Before practice sessions or activity, or before we compete we need to check in on what it is we are trying to achieve and why it’s important for us to do so.

Improve Concentration

Take a minimum of 2 minutes each day to practice aiming and maintaining attention on a present moment target (e.g., sounds, breath). Try to recognize as quickly as possible when you are no longer paying attention and return it.

Committed Action

When you are on the playing field, check in as often as possible to make sure you are committing to processes that increase the chance of imporvement and success


When we are not acting mentally tough, most commonly we’ve become caught up in difficult internal experiences like nerves and frustration. Practice noticing what unintentional thoughts come up for you during practice and competition.


Rather than trying to control emotions, we actually need to practice doing the opposite to develop mental fitness. When you notice frustration or nerves take 5 seconds to simply see if you can observe it in your body like you could notice the physical sensation of a stretching activity.

Anthony also shared a bit about his own college sport journey.

At the end of Anthony’s less than successful first semester in college as a tennis player at Pepperdine University in Malibu, his coach Peter Smith dealt him the bitter blow by letting him know that he was having his scholarship cut to a rate that he couldn’t afford.

This resulted in him first looking for a suitable transfer opportunity before finally deciding he would take the fall semester off so he could afford to come back for one semester of his sophomore year. Determined to prove his coach wrong, Anthony invested in working with his own sport psychologist for 6 months, and then came back to achieve a win rate of 88% wins in singles and doubles.

This is a winning rate that to this day is the 2nd best all time of players that Coach Smith coached (this has included 5 national championship winning teams).

For the last 15 years Anthony has dedicated most of my working life to becoming more skilled in helping players, parents, and coaches regarding the mental components of sport.

You can listen to our interview with Anthony here

Want to increase your mental toughness? Anthony is running a 28 day program starting June 1st 2020! We have been lucky enough to get an exclusive discount to his program. Simply use STUDYANDPLAY at the checkout to claim the offer. 


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An Aussie's Transformative
US College Journey

By Study & Play Director, Chris Bates