Date of Award

Spring 4-14-2022

Document Type

Dissertation (799 registration)

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Andrew Burklund


Four Cs, College Athletics, Grit, Resilience, Relentless, Sports


The purpose of this study was to enhance the phenomenon of mental toughness, by addressing the literature gap of how mental toughness can be developed in college football. This qualitative study used a tri-level snowball method, first interviewing head coach participants recommended from a collegiate football expert. Then, interviewing assistant coaches who were recommended by each head coach. Lastly, interviewing a focus group of current collegiate football athletes, who were recommended by both head coaches and assistant coaches. This study addressed four research questions surrounding the development of mental toughness in college football athletes, the differences between coaches’ and athletes’ perceptions of mental toughness, the incorporation of the four Cs (Clough et al., 2002) of mental toughness, comparing football coaches’ definitions of mental toughness, and applying mental toughness found to other sport programs. The following was found: Coaches felt mental toughness was necessary for both life and football and can be developed through techniques both on and off the field involving football; Athletes and coaches agree on multiple aspects of mental toughness but have differing opinions of how it is developed; The four Cs played an important role in the development of mental toughness; That definitions are subjective dependent upon characteristics that each coach deems important, and that mental toughness can be applied to other sports using some of the same techniques that football coaches would use.



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