Dean Benton on Mental Toughness


The following is an email I received from my friend and colleague, Dean Benton, Performance Director for the Brisbane Broncos. This reminded me again that I am not a punishment coach or a mental toughness coach. Each of us has a responsibility to teach our athletes, that is implicit in coaching. Teaching concentration and focus is part of what I do in every session. Here are Dean’s comments:

Just read your blog about mental toughness. I couldn’t agree more. I pissed me off when coaches who think, simplistically, that smashing players with copious amounts of conditioning will solve a myriad of problems that underpin poor performance when it arises. Without doubt you cannot get physically fit with being mentally tough and vis versa- I subscribe to this wholeheartedly. However, using conditioning as tool to try and directly instill mental toughness suggests and can do the following:

  • Every training session has to be hard to be beneficial
  • Athletes develop a negative attitude to the training process
  • It breeds distrust between the AD coach and athletes

Training (athletic development) should be seen as a privilege not a burden. I found this simplistic remedy way too common in the football codes. It’s used when thinking and player/coach responsibility stops.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
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Vern Gambetta

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