An evaluation of a Mental Toughness Education and Training Program (MTETP) for early career English Football League referees

Liam Slack, Sheffield Hallam University, United Kingdom

Theme: Mental training/interventions

Poster Number: 43

Program ID: POS-1

Presentation: October 3, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Current sport psychology research has employed a sport-specific approach to designing interventions aimed at developing Mental Toughness (Gucciardi, Gordon, & Dimmock, 2009). The present study aims to build on this literature by evaluating the efficacy of a Mental Toughness Education and Training Program (MTETP) within English football refereeing. The MTETP consisted of four individual- and two group-based workshops designed to develop mental toughness and enhance performance in four early career English Football League referees (Mage = 28.12 years). Adopting a single-subject, multiple-baseline-across-participants design (e.g., Bell, Skinner, & Fisher, 2009), mental toughness and referee-assessor performance ratings were evaluated across 20 competitive matches. Self- and coach-ratings of Mental Toughness highlighted an instant and continued improvement in three referees (i.e., Referees I, II, and III) during the intervention and maintenance phases. Referee-assessor performance ratings of all referees improved throughout the intervention phase compared to the baseline phase. Findings revealed that Referee I improved by an average of .05 to a 8.37 referee-assessor performance rating, Referee II by .09 to a 8.33 referee-assessor performance rating, Referee III by .08 to a 8.38 referee-assessor performance rating, and Referee IV by .04 to a 8.29 referee-assessor performance rating. Social validation data collected during the maintenance phase indicated that a host of strategies within the MTETP facilitated the development of mental toughness (e.g., self-awareness activities, video analysis of performance, re-focusing strategies during competition, challenging role-play activities, post-match reflection techniques). Discussions acknowledge theoretical and practical implications relating to the continued development of Mental Toughness interventions. In particular, the structure and implementation of Mental Toughness training programs throughout the course of an entire English Football League season when maximizing their effectiveness.

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