“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us but those who win battles we never see them fight”

“Mental toughness is when you can find fuel in an empty tank”

Two of my favorite quotes that really symbolize what mental strength/toughness embody.

But some will ask well what is mental strength/toughness?

What does it consist of? 

  • Mental Strength (Mental Toughness) is having the natural or developed psychological edge that enables you to generally, cope better than your opponents with the many demands that sport places on a performer; specifically, be more consistent and better than your opponent in remaining determined, focused, confident, and in control under pressure. (Jones, Hanton & Connaughton, 2002)
  • It is the ability to resist, manage, and overcome doubts, worries, concerns, and circumstances that prevent you from succeeding, or excelling at a task/objective/performance outcome that you set out to achieve.   

Since we know what mental strength and mental toughness is, how can we start to teach or build our minds to be Mentally Strong?

A model I personally love is the 4 C’s Model (Cherry 2019). What are the 4 C’s though?

  • Challenge
  • Control
  • Commitment
  • Confidence

Challenge – Challenge describes how an individual will respond. They will push back their boundaries, embrace the change, and/or accept the risk. Mentally strong/tough individuals or athletes will see the Challenge as an opportunity to showcase resiliency and by this happening they will tend to enjoy new places, see new people, and be sparked by creativity 

Control – Control is having a sense and understanding of ones self worth. It is the ultimate description of which a person feels in control of their life and the circumstances they go through. More importantly it describes the extent of which that individual or athlete can control the display of their emotions. An individual or athlete that displays high emotional control usually has the “adapt and adjust” mindset. They do not get derailed or distracted by emotion or circumstances they simply work through those emotionally charged situations.  This calm under pressure approach can often lift the spirits and emotions of those around them as well. 

Commitment – Commitment is very simple. It is all about the goal orientated and driven individual or athlete that has set goals and made the measurable promises that it takes to deliver on those goals. Staying fully committed to those goals one set. Control and Commitment together is what most people would refer to as Resiliency. Resilient individuals and athletes are in fact the solid response to adversity. 

Confidence – Confidence is the glue to it all! An individual or athletes has unwavering confidence in his own abilities to stare a challenge or conflict in the face. Mentally strong individuals and athletes access the confidence to deal with the situation and stand their ground when needed. Their confidence gives them a chance to represent themself boldly and be comfortable in handling any challenge or objective. 

Once understanding the 4 C model I like to go a little further into certain topics that helps drive home our mental strength and give us an even deeper understanding. Now some these is what I like to call “Major Keys” in building Mental Strength and Toughness and it goes as such:

  • Emotional Stability
  • Perspective
  • Readiness for Change
  • Positive Reflection
  • Self Care/ Self Talk
  • Critique/ Right attitude toward set back
  • Strength under Stress
  • Focus/What’s your Why?
  • Controlling the Controllables
  • Grit
  • Patience

These Major Keys are essential in getting a more full grasp in understanding the totality of Mental Strength and Toughness. Mental Strength and Mental Toughness isn’t built over night.

It takes a lot of time and a lot of constant reminding of the 4 C’s and our Major Keys. A few examples of Mentally Tough individuals in sports around the world are:

  • Kobe Bryant (5x NBA Champion, Hall of Famer)
  • Alex Smith (Former #1 overall draft pick, Retired Quarterback)
  • Tom Brady (7X Super Bowl Champion, Future First ballot Hall of Famer)
  • Kevin Garnett (NBA Champion, 15x All-Star Future Hall of Famer)
  • Michael Phelps (23 Olympic Gold Medals, Most Winning Athlete in Olympic History)
  • Ray Lewis (2x Super Bowl Champ, NFL Tackle record Holder, First Ballot HOF)

These are a few extremely talented and very decorated Athletes that resemble incredible mental strength and toughness. I highly advise all athletes to watch videos or interviews from these athletes, as they will explain their own versions of Mental Strength and Toughness.

Last but certainly not least on how we can help build our mental strength and toughness is Religion. I am a God fearing Christian man and no matter what religion you study or follow there is more than enough scripture on our lord giving us strength. I’d like to share a few scriptures that can also help in our journey in building Mental Strength/Toughness. 

Philippians 4:13 – I can do all this through him who gives me strength 

Isaiah 40:29/31 – He Gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint

Psalms 73:26 – My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

2 Samuel 22:33 – It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure

Thank you for reading, and May God continue to guide us all in our journeys to better Mental Health. God Bless!  Coach Brock Newton M.S., Mental Performance Coach 

  • Cherry, K. (2019, September 21). The Best Ways to Cultivate Your Mental Strength. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-cultivate-mental-toughness-4134660
  • Haden, J. (2014, July 23). 7 Habits of People With Remarkable Mental Toughness. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/7-habits-of-people-with-remarkable-mental-toughness.html.
  • Jones, Hanton, & Connaughton, 2002, p. 209, “What Is This Thing Called Mental Toughness? An Investigation of Elite Sport Performers” Journal of Applied Sport Psychology