Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2022


This investigation employed meta-analysis techniques to examine the relationship between mental toughness and athletic performance. A total of 76 studies were systematically analyzed with 470 correlation coefficients (rxy) calculated to determine the mean effect. Fifty-five subject and study variables (age, gender, sport, psychometric instrument, and theoretical definition, etc.) were coded for each correlation to assess changes in the magnitude according to these key characteristics noted within the literature. Overall, the total average correlation produced a small effect size of rxy =.218. However, the effect size varied significantly depending on the definition, measurement, quality of the investigation, methodology, and intervention. Significant age, gender, and sport differences were also uncovered. Overwhelming evidence suggests mental toughness results in significantly greater self-referenced improvement than performance against a competitor. Training and the belief in training, or training-efficacy, is theorized to be the major mechanism underlying self-improvement producing greater mental toughness and cumulative athletic success.


Mental Toughness, Athletic Performance, Success, Achievement, Mentally Tough

Document Type


Degree Name

Physical Education, Sports and Exercise Science

Level of Degree


Department Name

Health, Exercise, and Sports Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

John Barnes

Second Committee Member

Todd Seidler

Third Committee Member

Luke Mao

Fourth Committee Member

Karl White