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“Don’t Be Stupid, Stupid!” Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques to Reduce Irrational Beliefs and Enhance Focus in a Youth Tennis Player

Sille, Richard A and Turner, Martin J and Eubank, Martin R (2020) “Don’t Be Stupid, Stupid!” Cognitive-Behavioral Techniques to Reduce Irrational Beliefs and Enhance Focus in a Youth Tennis Player. Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology, 4 (1). pp. 40-51. ISSN 2470-4849

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Abstract

This case reports the intervention approach the first author adopted while working with a youth tennis player. The athlete held irrational beliefs and was struggling to maintain emotional control. The neophyte sport psychology practitioner adopted a cognitive-behavioral approach to practice. The intervention focused on (a) using rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT) to replace unhelpful beliefs about unforced errors with a new rational philosophy and (b) using a distraction-control plan to restructure the player’s thoughts and beliefs in relation to opponents’ perceived gamesmanship. Intervention effectiveness was evaluated through qualitative data from the athlete and his parents and the reflections of the practitioner. Feedback suggests that REBT and distraction-control plans can be effective in helping youth athletes manage their thought patterns and improve emotional control during competition. This case also demonstrates the importance of practitioners’ having a flexible and adaptable approach to practice—one that meets individual client needs.

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