Research Update

April 9, 2021 by

Can Athletes Be Tough Yet Compassionate to Themselves?

Self-compassion and mental toughness are two psychological constructs that have been shown to be helpful in dealing with stress associated with sports. Self-compassion is conceptualized as having three components: self-kindness; common humanity; and mindfulness.  Mental toughness is conceptualized as a capacity to produce consistently high performance despite challenges.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationships among self-compassion, mental toughness and mental health in NCAA college athletes. In total, 542 student-athletes participated and completed Mental Toughness Index, Self-Compassion Scale, and Mental Health Continuum–Short Form questionnaires. Mental toughness, self-compassion (including mindfulness), and mental health were positively correlated. Self-compassion partially mediated the relationship between mental toughness and mental health, suggesting that self-compassion is crucial for using mental toughness positively.  Mindfulness was the aspect of self-compassion most strongly associated with mental toughness.  The authors concluded that cultivating skills in both self-compassion and mental toughness may be an important step towards promoting mental health in student-athletes.

Stamatis A, et al. PLOS One, December 31, 2021,

Filed Under: News and Notes