An analysis of the size and direction of the association between mental toughness and Olympic distance personal best triathlon times

Martin I. Jones, John K. Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Athletes, coaches, sport psychology practitioners, and researchers suggest that mental toughness represents an important construct that is associated with athletic performance. Unfortunately, the absence of real-world performance as a dependent variable has limited our ability to substantiate this claim. The concern of a lack of ecologically valid measures of sports performance might be addressed by examining the relationship between mental toughness and sports performance using a standardized measure of personal best (PB) triathlon time and a validated unidimensional measure of mental toughness. Methods: Three hundred and sixteen triathletes completed the 8-item mental toughness index (MTI), reported their age, and provided a PB Olympic distance triathlon time and the total number of triathlons they had completed to date. Given that males are typically quicker than females, a standardized time was calculated by dividing the PB by the current Olympic record for gender; we also hypothesized that more experienced triathletes would report quicker PB times because of greater frequency and duration of training. Once we had controlled for gender and experience, we predicted that mental toughness would be negatively associated with triathlon time and the size of the relationship would be of a moderate magnitude. Results: Results revealed small- to moderate-sized negative relationships between both completed number of triathlons and mental toughness with standardized PB time. Conclusion: The hierarchical regression analysis showed that mental toughness provided a unique contribution to the variability in standardized Olympic triathlon PB after controlling for the total number of triathlons completed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Sport and Health Science
Issue number1
Early online date12 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Endurance sport
  • Factorial validity
  • Mental toughness
  • Olympic distance triathlon
  • Performance
  • Personal best times


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