Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire: Evaluation for Use in South African Competitive Tennis

By Cowden, Richard G.; Meyer-Weitz, Anna | Journal of Sport Behavior, December 2016 | Go to article overview

Sports Mental Toughness Questionnaire: Evaluation for Use in South African Competitive Tennis


Cowden, Richard G., Meyer-Weitz, Anna, Journal of Sport Behavior


The consensus that mental toughness (MT), as a psychological construct, is an indispensible factor for athletic achievement, success, and excellence (Clough, Earle, & Sewell, 2002; Crust, 2007; Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton, 2007; Loehr, 1986) has increased interest towards not only developing a comprehensive understanding of the construct, but developing appropriate instruments to assess MT. Accurate MT appraisals have prospective implications for examining areas warranting improvement as well as assessments of MT following intervention efforts, particularly due to the developmental trajectory of MT over time and through experiences (Connaughton, Hanton, & Jones, 2010) as well as through direct psychological training and intervention efforts (Bell, Hardy, & Beattie, 2013).

Although several general (e.g., Mental Toughness Questionnaire 48 [MTQ48]; Clough et al., 2002) and sport-specific MT inventories (e.g., Cricket Mental Toughness Inventory [CMTI]; Gucciardi & Gordon, 2009) have been developed, some (e.g., Psychological Performance Inventory [PPI]; Loehr, 1986) have demonstrated inadequate psychometric properties and have been devoid of a theoretical basis for item inclusion (Middleton et al., 2004). In addition, there are suggestions that MT develops differently according to sport-type involvement (Gucciardi, 2009) and has distinct requirements based on particular types of sports or selected periods of sport participation (Bull, Shambrook, James, & Brooks, 2005). This has resulted in the development of sport-specific MT inventories to adequately appraise MT according to sport-type MT manifestations and demands.

One sport that has received insufficient attention and for which a sport-specific MT instrument has yet to be developed is tennis. Considering the conditions, nature of participation, and demands associated with tennis differ markedly from other sports, it is important that an instrument be examined and validated for use with tennis athletes. In this study, the decision to select an inventory that has been afforded prior psychometric support is based on two reasons. The first is that instruments that have been validated using athletes from a variety of sporting backgrounds may not exhibit the same factor structure or item loadings among a group of athletes from one type of sport, especially if MT differs according to sport type. The second is that although the instrument that has been selected for use in this study (i.e., Sport Mental Toughness Questionnaire [SMTQ]; Sheard et al., 2009) is a multidimensional measure of MT and has undergone extensive psychometric validation and support, subsequent examinations have resulted in the suggestion of further psychometric evaluation (Crust & Swann, 2011). Therefore, accurate sport-specific appraisals of athlete MT require the assessment and validation of individual instruments for appropriate adaptation and use in such contexts. Hence, the purpose of the present study is to examine the psychometric properties of a previously validated MT instrument for prospective adaptation and use amid competitive tennis players.

Method

Participants

A total of 365 competitive tennis athletes participated in the study. The participant demographics are outlined in Table 1. The participants were required to have engaged in some form of tennis competition within the last two weeks and must have engaged in tennis participation for a minimum of five years prior to their participation in the study. These two criteria were considered necessary in order to operationally define the term competitive, which would more likely enable the evaluation of a specific sub-group of tennis participants and maintain congruence among all participants. Additionally, the criteria were considered important for reducing the potential for confounds to influence the results and subsequent interpretation of the findings. For instance, if the requirement to include athletes currently competing was omitted, the degree to which participant scores on the various measures were influenced by the act of engaging in competition or absence of competitive engagement could not be determined. …

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