This is how sports performance is improved with the cognitive-behavioral model

Sport is much more than a physical phenomenon embodied by the movements and coordinated activation of the body’s muscles; Behind all that superficial and directly observable layer, there are psychological and emotional factors to take into account.

And it is that in the same way in which a sports competition is not always won by the strongest or most agile person, everything related to the management of emotions, thoughts and own behavior in general is a piece without which has an incomplete view of athletic performance.

Therefore, in this article we will see how to work to improve sports performance from one of the most effective psychological intervention models: cognitive-behavioral.

What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

What is the goal of psychological intervention? The answer to this question depends, among other things, on the problems and needs that the person who comes to the professional wants to address; but it also depends on the theoretical-practical model from which the psychologist starts. And it is that something as complex as mental and behavioral phenomena can be approached from different philosophical and meta-psychological perspectives, that is, the concept systems through which it is defined what happens and what can be done.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is, as its name suggests, a model in which the psychological is classified into two main categories: the behavioral, which can be observed directly and objectively by other people, and the cognitive, which refers to the patterns of thoughts and belief systems from which people interpret what we perceive.

Thus, the cognitive-behavioral model proposes to intervene through these two routes: the mental processes that constitute the way of thinking and feeling of the person, and their way of interacting with their environment and with others through customs, habits, etc. Tackling the problem from both fronts allows for faster and more consistent results, since these two processes are mutually reinforcing.

How is sports performance improved from this psychology model?

What we have seen so far serves to understand the way in which the cognitive-behavioral model is used to provide effective solutions for the person seeking to change on a psychological level; but this is not limited to intervention in psychopathologies. The same principles can be used in people who do not have diagnosable disorders and who want to progress in some aspect. Therefore, it is also used in sports psychology. These are some of its main functions.

1. Development of time management habits

Time management is key in any training process. Small problems in this area can significantly limit the athlete’s progress in the short, medium and long term. For this reason, the cognitive-behavioral model works, if necessary, on making the person commit to their training program and not fall into comfortable and self-indulgent dynamics that anchor them to their comfort zone.

2. Development of capacity for self-motivation

Achieve self-motivation it is very important especially in the early stages of following a training program, as well as before important events for one’s own sporting career. In this way, it is more difficult to give in to the small satisfactions that come at the cost of giving up much greater rewards that we can achieve in the medium and long term.

3. Enhancement of attentional management skills

Knowing how to direct one’s focus of attention towards what matters is one of the most important aspects of sports psychology; it depends on not wasting time with distractions both in preparation for tests and during key sporting events. From the cognitive-behavioral model, forms of training are proposed to manage well the ability to concentrate, isolate distractors, etc.

4. Management of negative emotions

Anxiety and discouragementAlthough they are not in themselves a problem in all cases, they are part of the emotions and feelings that can lead athletes to self-sabotage if they do not know how to manage it well. For this reason, psychologists help in the process of rapid and reliable identification of emotions and application of measures to channel them properly.

5. Adaptation to good dynamics of socialization and interaction with the environment

Life does not end in the hours dedicated to sports, and everything that happens in those hours away from the practice fields also influences performance, as well as the no less important emotional well-being. The cognitive-behavioral psychological intervention works to detect possible problems early, develop habits that make it possible to be happy beyond sports, spend quality time with others, etc.

Do you want to have professional psychological assistance?

If you dedicate part of your time to the sports field and you are interested in having sports psychology services, Get in touch with me. I am a psychologist specialized in the cognitive-behavioral intervention model and I have been working for many years both with individuals and with companies and organizations, either in person or online.

Bibliographic references:

  • Beck, JS (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
  • Brewin, CR (1996). Theoretical foundations of cognitive-behavior therapy for anxiety and depression. Annual Review of Psychology. 47: pp. 33 – 57.
  • Danish, SJ; Hale, BD (1981). Toward an understanding of the practice of sport psychology. Journal of Sport Psychology, 3 (2): pp. 90 – 99.
  • Nachon, C. and Nascimbene, F. (2001), Introduction to Sports Psychology. Buenos Aires: Libros del Rojas.
  • Pinto, C .; Philip, T. (ed.) (2009). Cognitive-behavioral therapy. London and Spain: Spanish Society of Psychiatry and Royal College of Psychiatrists.
  • Tenenbaum, G .; Eklund, RC (2007). Handbook of Sport Psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.


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