”Mental toughness is a state of mind – you could call it character in action.”

Vince Lombardi

”Mental Toughness is doing the right thing for the team when it`s not the best thing for you. ”

Bill Belichick

”I’ve missed more than 9000 shots In my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan

Succeeding in sports is a long and complex process. The journey to the top involves a number of challenges and turning points that will ultimately determine success. When researching successful athletes, they are often described as determined, committed, disciplined and people who have accepted the challenge and the journey with gratitude. But most of all, they are all united by a mentally hard mindset that believes that dreams can be achieved through patience and acceptance of challenges. 

Gucciardi and Hanton (2016) describe mental toughness as a personal capacity to deliver consistently high levels of performance despite varying levels of obstacles and challenges, distractions, pressures, and adversity. It can also be seen in the ability to maintain focus and cope with stress. In successful sports stories, it is often accompanied by resilience and ability to rise from challenges to victory. Clough, Earle and Sewell (2002) divide mental toughness into four dimension (The 4Cs):

  1. Control: Controlling the situation, even in difficult situations. The ability to control multiple things at the same time.
  2. Commitment: Full commitment to the goals and the journey to get there. Facing challenges and adversity.
  3. Challenge: Growth mindset. Things are seen as opportunities instead of threats. Challenges serve as learning experiences and mistakes as an opportunity for growth.
  4. Confidence: Despite the situation and events, confidence in oneself and the journey is maintained.Challenges serve as a test of mental toughness.

Mental toughness in training and competition

In sports, development takes place mainly through training and competition. A mentally tough athlete controls his or her own mind, environment, and post-performance thoughts. He takes ownership of himself and is able to perform even in challenging situations. Mental toughness occurs in an athlete’s attitude, training, competition, and post-performance self-reflection. So at every different stage of the process.When one of these dimension fails, it is difficult to succeed holistically and development slows down. For example, without the right attitude to training, it is difficult to succeed in competition.

Mental-toughness Framework. Jones, Hanton & Connaughton 2007.

The right attitude and mindset for the athlete is everything. An athlete must have a strong belief in himself and his goals. This is especially emphasized in difficult times. Indeed, mental toughness is often measured the most when things are not going as planned. Succeeding in sports is a long-term process, which is why belief in one’s own success is a key factor. Successes along the way help the athlete to continue and strengthen their faith. Often, however, belief alone is not enough, a clear reason for doing sport and a goal is needed. This makes it easier to stay focused and prioritize things. A clear vision of the goal will help the athlete stay focused and make everyday choices which support his or her goal setting in the short and long term.

Strong belief and clear focus, helps the athlete to train with a purpose. Goals provide extra motivation and help the athlete drive themselves to the limit. As the goal of training is development, this requires control of the environment.Mentally tough athletes shape their own environment and take responsibility for their own actions, which increases their sense of control. When the training is done with the quality and the environment supports the development, it is more likely to succeed in the competition. Mentally tough athletes are able to deal with factors related to the competitive situation, such as uncertainty and stress, and are at the their best level when it matters the most. They are able to adapt to the circumstances, control their own feelings and thoughts, and are able to perform even in challenging situations. Post-performance self-reflection is an important part of mental toughness. It is important to learn to deal with emotions after performance, whether it is a success or a failure. When analyzing performance, it is important to consider the factors that led to the outcome. Each performance teaches something and analyzing them helps to set a goal and maintain focus.

Psychological flexibility and resilience

Psychological flexibility is a skill or set of small skills that allows one to perceive the thoughts and feelings produced by one’s mind and to detach oneself from their power. In addition, psychological flexibility is the ability to act according to one’s own values in different situations despite possible unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and feelings within the body. In sports, it is impossible to control all events, but our own reaction to them can always be controlled. We decide how we react and what happens next. In practice, this means that we must first become aware of our own feelings and thoughts. Then take a distance from them and finally act according to our own values. Naturally, failures cause strong feelings in us but they should never control too much what we do.

In sport, the goal is to reach maximum potential, which is why it is a learning process that also includes failures. Resilience is an athlete’s ability to recover mentally, which is accentuated especially when faced with failures. It is a capacity or skill that helps an athlete to function successfully or adapt after a major set back or unpleasant life event. Resilience can be seen as a characteristic that some have and others do not. It can also be seen as a dynamic process where development can take place. In short, it is a quality that helps an athlete to cope with change and helps them function in a changing sports world. Psychological resilience consists of six components (Hayes, Luoma, Bond, Masuda & Lillis 2006) , which are values, commitment to living according to values, living in the present moment, perceptive self, acceptance, and impaired mental control.

Mental toughness in sport

Inside the mind of champions, Martin Hagger. TEDxPerth.

Transforming barriers to frontiers, Emilia Lahti. TEDxTurku.


Clough, P., Earle, K. & Sewell, D. 2002. Mental toughness: The concept and its measurement. Solutions in sport psychology.

Guggiardi, D. & Hanton, S. 2016. Mental toughness: Critical reflections and future considerations. The routledge international handbook of sport psychology. New York, Routledge.

Hayes, S.C., Luoma, J.B., Bond, F.W., Masuda, A. & Lillis, J. 2006. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy: Model, processes and outcomes. Behaviour Research and Therapy.

Jones, G., Hanton, S. & Connaughton, D. 2007. A framework of mental toughness in the world’s best performers. The Sport Psychologist.

Tossavainen, A. & Peltonen. A. 2021 Psyykkinen valmennus. Fitra.


The technical skills in floorball can be divided into offense and defense skills. For example, offense skills are stick handling, dribbling, shooting and passing (also receiving the pass). Out of these, dribbling, passing and receiving the ball are needed to create the scoring chances (build-up phase) and shooting skills to score (scoring phase). Just the technical skills are not enough in a game situation, because the player must also be able to make tactically right decisions. Choose the right ”tool” for a specific situation and also know how to use it. Therefore, The decision a player makes is strongly based to his or her psychological and physical characteristics. The actions of an individual player, combined with the cooperation of the players on the field, form the team’s performance.

Factors affecting the team`s and player`s performance (Westerlund 1997).

What is passing and why is it needed in the game?

In floorball, passing and receiving pass are one of the most important skills. Passing is a fastest way to move the ball from player to player or one field area to another, thus the ball always moves faster than player who is running with the ball. Passing also creates continuity of game. Above all, it is a way to create scoring chances and play the ball towards the opponent’s goal (to win space). Because the ball possession is usually starting in a situation where scoring is not possible, without good passing and receiving skills it is difficult for a team to play offensive game. In a situation where it is not possible to play the ball forward, team can maintain the ball possession by passing the ball from player to player. At the same time, it allows the team to create space which can be used in build up.

When used properly, a pass is an effective way to play offensive game. The opponent is forced always react to the pass and through this it can be used as a tool to change the balance in field and create advantage in offensive game. The faster the ball moves from player to player, the higher the pressure is on the opponent’s defense form and it will be more difficulty for defense to steal the ball. The goal of the passing game is to create scoring chances, so a mere pass to a free player is not always enough, and a pass should be made to the player in the best scoring position. Thus, in addition to technical skills, tactical skills are also required to provide right timing, unexpected and accurate pass. Passing includes also the risk of losing the ball. Before passing the ball, the player have to evaluate the possible risks and taketake into consideration  the abilities of player who is receiving the ball.

According Wein Horst (2004) passing can be used for the following purposes:

  • Pass by an opponent
  • Allow better positioned teammate to attack with less risk or to score
  • Relieve pressure from defense (clearence)
  • Initiate an attacking move (build-up phase)
  • Progress in the field (pass into run of the teammate)
  • Retain posession (with a back pass or possession pass)

What makes a good pass?

Passing technique refers to a player’s ability to make different passes. Players have to be able to pass and receive the pass in fast situation, also under pressure. Good pass consists of several different factors. Execution requires technical and physical capabilities as well as factors related to the game intelligence, such as understanding of the game. Good pass requires also appropriate use of the technique: choosing the right technique and considering the direction and timing of the pass. The game situation determines what is the right pass for the situation and whether it is made with the forehand or backhand and along the floor or in the air. The timing of the pass should be such that the player who is receiving the pass is able to continue the game without problems. This requires that the receiver makes him or her available and is free from defender. The quality of the pass is important that receiver can maintain advantage compared to the defender and this way have more time for next game actions. When passing to player who is in the movement, pass should be directed to the front of the receiver rather than to the behind, as accelerating the speed is easier than slowing down. Speed of the pass is both a technical and a tactical requirement. 

Passing is a collaboration between at least two players. Giving the pass is an important skill, but equally important is how we are receiving the ball. In order for the game to continue, it is really important that the receiver is able to continue the game immediately after the ball is in his or her possession and observe the field at the same time. Therefore, receiver should always try to be in positive playing position. He or she also needs to speak same language with ball carrier and communication with him or her a stick, eye contact, body language or by speaking. That way passer knows where and when the other player wants the ball. The goal in passing should be to play from movement to movement that raises the tempo of offensive game.

A good pass is characterized by (Horst 2004.):

  • It has a clear meaning: For example passing to player who has better field position, winning a space and playing closer to goal, pass by an opponent or maintaining ball possession.
  • It`s accurate: Receiver gets the ball where he or she want`s to have it , the opponent is unable to intercept the pass and It is easy for the receiver to continue the game.
  • It has a right timing: Proportioning the timing to the movement of the teammates, their readiness to receive the pass, and the opponent’s attempt to steal the ball.
  • It`s executed with maximum speed / force: the shortest time required to deliver the ball between two players (minimizing the ability of opponents to react), taking into account the individual abilities of the player who is receiving the ball.
Some examples of excellent passes in SSL.

How to train and improve team passing?

Different kind of passing games (see blog post from Rondo are best way to improve teams and player`s passing skills. Since the goal should be always be to train skills which we need in game actions, like unpredictable passes and decision making alongside technical skills . A practice like this combines the technical and tactical side of passing, while the cooperation between players develops at the same time. Different passing drills, on the other hand, only develop a technical performance that may sometimes be necessary, for example, for younger juniors. Despite this, it would be always good to add some tactical elements also drill-style exercises.

In passing training, its good focusing equally on the technical and tactical requirements. With a limited techniques, it is not always possible to give the pass that best suits to the situation. On the other hand, a good passing skill set is not useful if you don`t know how to choose the right solution in the game. The technical skill training can be carried out independently or as part of a team training. In below you will find some examples of different passing drills, which can be added to team training for example part of warm-up or technique training.

A few examples of different passing drills in groups of two, three, and five players:

Source: Horst, W. 2004. Developing game intelligence in soccer. Reedswain Publishing. 

Westerlund, E. 1997. Jääkiekko. Nykyaikainen urheiluvalmennus. Mero Oy, Gummerus, 527-544.

RONDO (and other ball possession games).

Rondo is open skilled game where two teams (attackers and defenders) play against each other. It is a well-known training form especially in football. Rondo`s basic idea is that one group try to keep possession with the ball while completing a series of passes, while other (smaller) group tries to win the ball and get possession for them. From the player’s point of view, the goal is to outsmart the opponent, by moving the defenders to certain area and then play the ball to undefended areas by passing . Rondo is thus a game in which, in addition to passing skills, players practice their observation, decision-making, and other technical skills, like protecting the ball under pressure, in a constantly changing environment.

Rondos can be used to practice different aspects of the game. Since this is a game, players have to focus on technical performance more than static exercises and usually they tend to be also more motivated. Different variations can be used to develop players ’risk management (ball possession vs playing forward) and teach them to play according to certain principles. Thus, the development in the training of a small area can also be transferred to normal (five against five) game in the full field. Rondo can be also integrate a variety of structures and cooperation models from team playing philosophy.

To achieve the desired goal, the coach can modify the following variables:

  • The size of the area
  • Number of the players
  • Number of the team
  • Number of the attackers and defenders
  • Goal of the exercise (possession with time or number of passes)
  • Rules (i.e. the number of touches / time which is available to the ball carrier).

Ten examples of different Rondo exercises in floorball.


Tuomas Iisalo, head coach of the German Bundesliga team Crailsheim Merlins, is a guest of Basketball Immersion podcast and shares his views on the Collective in Basketball.

Basketball Immersion, Episode 92.

Some interesting themes in the podcast:

  • 02:20 definition of Collective Basketball.
  • 04:47 team building and recruitment.
  • 13:45 the mindset and work rate of the players.
  • 17:03 habits and concepts.
  • 24:05 training in collective basketball.
  • 27:55 reverse engineering offense.
  • 32:10 Decision Making Cycle.
  • 36:46 definition of shot selection.
  • 39:45 Teams to watch and follow.
  • 41:05 Trends and different ways of playing in the Bundesliga.