Psychology Research News

The Role of Mental Toughness, Competitive Anxiety, and Team Cohesion in Athletic Performance among Women’s Competitive Rugby

Group of rugby playersAmong competitive sports, psychological and team-related factors play an important role in achieving successful outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of mental toughness (MT), competitive anxiety (CA), team cohesion (TC), in rugby performance. Participants were 39 female athletes competing at the 2019 Austrian Women’s 7s Series Championship Tournament. The participants completed questionnaires aimed at measuring perceived mental toughness, anxiety towards sport, team cohesion. In addition, different measures of competitive performance were recorded based on the team’s ranking at the end of the tournament and based on the individual player’s performance during the tournament (frequency of tackles, passes, catches, tries, and kicks).

Bivariate Pearson correlation and multiple linear regression analyses revealed interesting findings about individual performance. Players who invested a lot of energy during the game (as measured by the number of actions such as tackling, passing, etc.) also appeared to report a higher attraction to the team and to the task at hand. These players were also well aware of their own performance during the game. Interestingly, among the players who invested a lot of energy during the game, those who reported higher levels of mental toughness were also those who scored the most points for their team. Although competitive anxiety negatively correlated with mental toughness, it was not significantly related to individual performance. These results suggest that overall rugby performance and decisive actions depend on different psychological processes. While the overall physical involvement in the game depends on an individual’s attraction to the group, the ability to score points depends on confidence and constancy (two sub-components of mental toughness). This research has implications for the development of training strategies in team sports, as it suggests that a healthy mixture of social and individual skills likely impacts individual performance, with overall positive consequences for the team.

This study was conducted at WVPU Psychology Department by MA student Andrée-Claude Larocque, who was supervised by Dr. Marc Mehu.