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Mental Toughness Model and How it Can be Applied to the Youth Sector

Posted By Doug Strycharczyk, CEO of AQR International , 17 May 2017

Doug Strycharczyk, CEO of AQR International provides an overview of the mental toughness model and how can be applied in the youth sector

What is Mental Toughness?

Personality can be defined as an individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting. Key to this is Mental Toughness which explains why individuals behave the way they do. In other words, it is the thinking element of personality and impacts on individuals in everything they do. It is a major factor in performance, positive behaviour and wellbeing.

How can this be applied to the Youth Sector?

Development of Mental Toughness translates into positive impact on:

Attainment levels - Mental Toughness can account for up to 25% of the variation in performance in exams or tests(1). Those mentally tough produce better coursework, are more engaged and are more likely to stick at a programme.

Aspirations – Individuals more mentally tough are likely to be more ambitious than those with lower levels. They will also be more likely to get a job and keep it and are more likely to want to develop and improve and work hard to achieve this.

Life chances – Those more mentally tough are more positive and have a ‘can do’ attitude. They will be more able to take advantage of opportunities that come their way even if they are few in number. They generally have a greater sense of wellbeing.

The mental toughness framework & 4 Cs model

Research carried out under the direction of Professor Peter Clough of Huddersfield University identified the four components of Mental Toughness - the 4 Cs: which each has sub components.


Mental Toughness Scale

What this means … what does MTQ48 assess


Life Control – I really believe I can do it

Emotional Control – I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others


Goal Setting – I promise to do it – I like working to goals

Achieving – I’ll do what it takes to keep my promises and achieve my goals


Risk Taking – I will push myself – I am driven to succeed

Learning from Experience – even setbacks are opportunities for learning


In Abilities – I believe I have the ability to do it – or can acquire the ability

Interpersonal Confidence – I can influence others – I can stand my ground if needed.


Mental toughness can also be mapped to qualities such as resilience, grit, mind-set, etc.

How can we assess Mental Toughness?

We are able to assess Mental Toughness through a unique 48 item high quality psychometric measure - MTQ48. Users can assess Mental Toughness before and after a programme. There is an online training programme to equip users as well as resource toolkits to support development activities. See for further information.

AQR (in partnership with Ambition are currently running a series of webinars on Mental Toughness and its applications in the youth sector. The next of these is on 23rd May at 2pm and is focused on Mental Toughness and the development of staff within youth organisations. The programme examines sources of stress, pressure and challenge for leadership teams and for staff and how developing a positive mindset is key to staff development and performance.

Related Reading:

1. A real world study to look at the performance, behaviour and career  aspirations of students in secondary education - Halewood College Study– 2008

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