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Just as there are those among us who are predisposed to develop physical strength more easily than others, mental strength seems to come more naturally to some people. There are several factors at play to determine the ease at which you develop mental strength:

What does "play" mean in this context?

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  • "in action" in this sense
    – J. Taylor
    Feb 19, 2018 at 22:33
  • "At play" is an idiom of sorts, in this sense meaning, perhaps, "associated with" or "contributing to". It may perhaps have it's roots as an analogy to elements of a sports game, with multiple players.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 19, 2018 at 22:33

2 Answers 2

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At play that is, exerting an influence on:

being something that helps produce or influence a result - Several issues are at play in determining the price of gasoline.(M-W)

A related idiom is come into play also bring sth into play: ​

If something comes into play, it starts to have a use or an effect in a particular situation, and if it is brought into play, it is given a use or an effect: In the summer months a different set of climatic factors come into play. (Cambridge Dictionary)

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  • I would say it means exerting an influence and not exerting an influence on. The "on something" can be put in parentheses to give a more correct grammatical definition: exerting an influence (on something).
    – 6005
    Feb 19, 2018 at 23:23
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Respecting the context and style of the sentence:

"Just as there are those among us who are predisposed to develop physical strength more easily than others, mental strength seems to come more naturally to some people. There are several factors at play to determine the ease at which you develop mental strength:"

I would re-write it:

“Just as there are those among us who are predisposed to develop physical strength more easily than others, mental strength seems to come more naturally to some people. There are several factors influencing (or affecting) the ease at which you develop mental strength:"

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