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Athletes and Mental Toughness

A common theme during the telecasts of the women’s draw at the U.S. Open has been toughness. Several times, analysts Mary Carillo, Pam Shriver and Mary Joe Fernandez have talked about toughness in relation to the poor serving of some of the sport’s top players.

In the September 7, 2009 Sports Illustrated, Peter King interviewed five NFL quarterbacks for his article “Hardest, Riskiest, Toughest, Greatest Job in Sports.” In a question about toughness, Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger says:

“I don’t think toughness is when a quarterback says, ‘I’m going to run somebody over.’ Toughness is playing the worst game of your life but not backing down. You don’t want to sit on the sideline. You want to stay in there and win. You know, down 21 points and the defense is getting through in every single way, and you throw three interceptions. Staying in that game, keeping your head up, trying to drive your team down the field when everything’s going wrong – that’s the kind of toughness I want in my quarterback.”

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