How to Develop Mentally Strong Rugby Players

How to Develop Mentally Strong Rugby Players

professor adam nicholls

Adam is a professor of psychology within the Department of Sport, Health, and Exercise Science, at the University of Hull. The main focus of his research relates to the psycho-social factors that predict doping among adolescent athletes, along with coping and emotions among athletes. His research is supported by more than £1.5 million of funding. He has published more than 85 journal articles and written five books. His latest book, Psychology in Sport Coaching: Theory and Practice has also been translated into both Arabic and Hungarian.

In this episode of Demystifying Mental Toughness, I’m joined by Professor Adam Nicholls where our conversation is mostly based around the sport of Rugby, though there are crossovers into other sports.  We discuss how do you define Mental Toughness in rugby terms, coping with stressors and pressure in professional rugby and at a youth level.  How coaches can best help players to develop their mental toughness at different stages as well as a lot more.  Enjoy tuning in!

Key Learning Points:

  • Mental Toughness is about a rugby player’s ability to be able to perform well under pressure.
  • Training can be stressful for some players because they may be fighting for their place within the team.
  • Stress is more amplified on match day, and that’s when those who are mentally tough will more likely to shine.
  • In a study we found experienced athletes were more mentally tough, indicating that that experience is really important in the development of the trait.
  • One way for coaches to help develop mental toughness with their players is through exposing them to increased stress with effective support on hand.
  • Self awareness is really important to be able to make good decisions, especially under pressure.
  • Individual differences and personality preferences have to be taken into account by coaches.
  • Consistent pre-shot routines are a critical element to trusting your skills under pressure.

Connect with Adam Nicholls

Book: Psychology in Sports Coaches: Theory and Practice



Connect with David Charlton


Join David @ The Sports Psychology Hub

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To Listen to Football or Soccer Podcast Episodes

Podcast Ep07: Toby Flood –  How Elite Athletes Mentally Prepare

Podcast Ep21: Steve Hackney – How to Reach Your Full Potential

Podcast Ep29: Lome Faatau – How to Play Professional Rugby with Confidence

Podcast Ep038: Taz Bricknell – Playing Professional Women’s Rugby

Podcast Ep039: John Fletcher – How to Develop Fearless Athletes

Helpful Rugby Orientated Resources

Rugby Blogs

Rugby Podcasts

Click the button below to join The Sports Psychology Hub a Facebook group that David hosts to help ambitious athletes, serious sport coaches, sporting parents, sports psychologists and mental game coaches to support each other.



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David Charlton

Best Wishes 

David Charlton

Global Sports Psychologist who is located near Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK and willing to travel Internationally.  David also uses online video conferencing software (Zoom, Facetime, WhatsApp) on a regular basis and has clients who he has supported in USA, Canada, South America, UAE, Australian and New Zealand.  

Managing Director – Inspiring Sporting Excellence and Founder of The Sports Psychology Hub.  With over 10 years experience supporting athletes, coaches, parents and teams to achieve their goals, quickly.   

T: +44 7734 697769

E: [email protected]

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