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The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

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W. Timothy Gallwey (born 1938 in San Francisco, California) is an author who has written a series of books in which he has set forth a new methodology for coaching and for the development of personal and professional excellence in a variety of fields, that he calls "The Inner Game." Since he began writing in the 1970s, his books include The Inner Game of Tennis, The Inner Game of Golf, The Inner game of Music (with Barry Green), Inner Skiing and The Inner Game of Work. Gallwey's seminal work is the The Inner Game of Tennis, with more than one million copies in print.[1] Besides sports, his training methods have been applied to the fields of business, health, and education.[1] This book is about relaxed concentration and what it can do for your performance, in anything really. He makes the same distinction between ego & self that a lot of other books do (Power of Now, Second Mountain, How to Change Your Mind), but in contrast spends more time on how the two relate to learning, competing, and winning.

The Inner Game of Tennis is surprisingly profound said Bill Gates. Timothy Gallwey’s insights apply to tennis but also many other parts of life. Learn more on the best guide to getting out of your own way, in Gates’ latest blog. We can think of “trying hard” as Self 1 castigating Self 2, while “effort” is the physical exertion it takes to do well.The surfer waits for the big wave because he values the challenge it presents. He values the obstacles the wave puts between him and his goal of riding the wave to the beach. Why? Because it is those very obstacles, the size and churning power of the wave, which draw from the surfer his greatest effort. It is only against the big waves that he is required to use all his skill, all his courage and concentration to overcome; only then can he realize the true limits of his capacities. At that point he often slips into a superconscious state and attains his peak. In other words, the more challenging the obstacle he faces, the greater the opportunity for the surfer to discover and extend his true potential. The potential may have always been within him, but until it is manifested in action, it remains a secret hidden from himself. The obstacles are a very necessary ingredient to this process of self-discovery. Note that the surfer in this example is not out to prove himself; he is not out to show himself or the world how great he is, but is simply involved in the exploration of his latent capacities. He directly and intimately experiences his own resources and thereby increases his self-knowledge.

Some instruction is certainly useful, but take instruction you’re given, like “keep your wrist tighter,” and see how it feels for you. Try out different tightnesses and notice, without judgment, what happens to your body and your shots. Consider a couple examples: Side note: there's a lot of overlap here with the "system 1" and "system 2" proposed by Daniel Kahneman (as summarized in Thinking, Fast and Slow), but The Inner Game of Tennis was written several decades earlier!

On Letting Go

What I really wanted, I realized, was to overcome the nervousness that was preventing me from playing my best and enjoying myself. I wanted to overcome the inner obstacle that had plagued me for so much of my life. I wanted to win the inner game. The book outlines a "self 1" and "self 2" dichotomy, that's basically analogous to the conscious and subconscious mind. Basically; the conscious and critical "self 1" can often impede the innate performance of the subconscious "self 2." Gallwey summarizes:

To learn more about Tim Gallwey and The Inner Game, you may like to explore a selection of videos and audio on the Tim Gallwey | The Inner Game | Performance Consultants playlist on YouTube. Self 1 is your ego and judgmental self, Self 2 is your innate, child like, unconscious self. Get Self 1 out of the way, and let Self 2 take over Better identity investment vehicles include hard work, kindness, curiosity, learning, generosity, and the like. On Inner PeaceAfter this, generalizations begin: After a few bad shots, “That was one bad serve” turns into “I have a bad serve,” which turns into “I’m bad at tennis,” which turns into “I’m bad in general.” These judgments are self-fulfilling.

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