In this study, we examined associations among mental toughness, negative emotions and cognition, and self-forgiveness. A sample of 343 competitive tennis players (Mage = 17.56, SD = 2.37) completed questionnaires measuring their tendency to experience shame, anger, and criticism towards themselves, along with mental toughness and self-forgivingness. Mental toughness correlated negatively with self-oriented shame, anger, and criticism, and positively with self-forgivingness. The effect of mental toughness on both shame and anger towards the self was fully mediated by self-forgiveness, whereas self-forgiveness partially mediated the effect for self-criticism. The findings support the role of self-forgiveness as a mediator in reducing or eliminating self-condemning, resentful, and devaluing responses that athletes direct towards themselves. Developers of mental toughness interventions might consider incorporating a self-forgiveness component to help athletes who make mistakes, underperform, or experience defeats.
University of Lincoln, College of Social Science Research
Dr Lee Crust, University of Lincoln, School of Sport and Exercise Science
Dr Trish Jackman, University of Lincoln, School of Sport and Exercise Science