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AQR in Sport

AQR and Mental Toughness in Sport. The 4 C’s Mental Toughness model originated in the world of sports. Prof Peter Clough was working with golfers, soccer players and rugby players. He had particular interest in the performance of place kickers in both Rugby codes.

Commonly they will score as many points as the rest of the team put together and can be crucial to the success of the team. With training and practice, many kickers can be very effective on the practice field. However when a place kicker misses a kick, he will often miss the next kick

Clough found that the prevailing concepts of resilience and hardiness and mental toughness didn’t quite explain what he was observing. He hypothesized that “confidence” was also a factor in mental toughness.

Clough developed a short 18 item measure to test his hypothesis. The results were encouraging. Clough & Earle set about developing a longer version of the questionnaire. This was later tested on a programme for the HM Customs & Excise in the UK which involved assessing more than 700 senior managers using a range of tests.

This confirmed the relevance of the confidence component and resulted in a reliable and valid questionnaire – the MTQ48

Mental toughness and its impact is well understood in the sports world, Described as winning mentality, mind-set, learned optimism, etc, these all describe the same or similar notions. The key areas are:

  • Performance– especially in competition and training work effectively and to a high standard
  • Positive Behaviour– developing a “can do” approach. If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you won’t.
  • Wellbeing– feeling satisfied and motivated even when the going has been tough and there have been setbacks
  • Aspirations– being more ambitious.

Mental toughness can also explain why some athletes are better suited to contact sports and why some perform better in team sports than in solitary sports. Or why an athlete of lesser ability can often beat an athlete of greater ability.

AQR have developed a version of the Mental Toughness Questionnaire specifically for the sports sector using language applicable in the sporting world. The measure enables athletes and their coaches, trainers to make better assessments and identify why they do or don’t perform under the pressure of competition.

We have also developed a mental toughness development programme targeted at athletes and their coaches and trainers. The programme has its own accompanying workbook and resources and includes interventions quotes and analogies relevant to the sporting world.

We are still young players, our career is gaining momentum, we won our first title and we are aware that the demands on us are increasing. Participation in the programme helps us to focus on important things, realise and correct errors arising in the head. The programme combined with hard work in training definitely helped us to get the League and Cup double after 18 years.


Legia Warsaw