Books You'll Love - The Inner Game of Tennis

The Inner Game of Tennis – Timothy Gallwey

In his early days as a tennis coach, Gallwey gave tons of feedback, speaking every time he noticed a flaw in technique or execution from his students. After awhile, he began to teach in a different way, with less vocal feedback and a bigger emphasis on demonstrating and showing the technique to his students. To his surprise they began improving faster.

Players would correct mistakes without any guidance from comments, on some deeper level, their subconscious knew the correct way to play tennis. They just needed to overcome the habits of the mind getting in the way.

Gallwey formulated a dichotomy of selves: Self 1 being your conscious mind, the part you’re usually in touch with and that you use to think, decide, and talk to yourself. Self 2 being your subconscious which you access when you’re in flow (the zone) relaxing, and just letting things happen.

If you can think back to your own experiences, it is when Self 2 is in charge that we’re performing at our highest level” loose, free, joyous, present. In contrast, Self 1 only gets in the way, attempting to force change, which only leads to the tightening of muscles and tense thoughts that keep is in the forsaken past or in a future full of failure. Gallwey argues that applying change by force or pressure doesn’t work. For this inner conflict to be resolved, we can and need to take a different approach to sport as he speaks more about how we can train and compete with Self 2 leading the way.


My Biggest takeaways


  • Let go of the old process of correcting faults
    • Letting go of judgment and see what happens
    • See your skill as it is, there is no need attribute goodness or badness to them
  • Things appear as they are (no good or bad)
    • Undistorted, the mind becomes more calm
    • (Like a loving parent) lets the child perform his own actions, even to the extent of making mistakes, because he trusts the child to learn from them
    • More “controlling” the more tightening in the muscles
  • Use outside models in your learning (studying video, watching great players) but don’t let them use you.
    • Natural learning is and always will be from the inside out, not vice versa but you can use external models to further help you take a step in the natural evolution or developing and improving your skills.
    • You are the learner and it is your individual internal learning process that ultimately governs your learning.


Takeaways to excel sport


  • The Groove Theory of Habits
    • (Tennis) The theory is a simple one: every time you swing your racked in a certain way, you increase the probabilities that you will swing that way again.
    • In this way patterns, called grooves, build up which have a predisposition to repeat themselves.
      • It is as if the nervous system were like a record disk. Every time an action is performed, a slight impression is made in the microscopic cells of the brain, just as a leaf blowing over a fine-grained beach of sand will leave its faint trace.
      • When the same action is repeated, the groove is made slightly deeper. After many similar actions there is a more recognizable groove into which the needle of behavior seems to fall automatically. Then the behavior can be termed grooved.
    • Making a Change
      • Non-judgement
        • Forget all previous ideas you may have about what’s wrong
        • Begin interested in your skill and experience it as fully as you can
        • Make no corrections, simply observe without interfering
        • Perform the skill and observe
          • Experience the touch
          • Be aware of the body and the balance
          • Let the body make unconscious changes
          • Avoid the complication of thinking that you made the change – thus having to remind yourself of the change

Takeaways to excel in life


  • Big lapses in focus
    • When we allow our minds to project what is about to happen
    • When we allow our minds to dwell on what has already happened
  • “What ifs”
    • Leaks the conscious energy you need to perform at your peak in the now into the imagined future
    • Leaks the conscious energy you need to perform at your peak in the now back to the past
      • As a result, objects look dim, the ball seems to come faster, appears smaller, court shrinks
    • Surfer analogy
      • Big waves bring out the best
        • The bigger the wave the more courage, concentration the effort the surfer will require
          • Then can he realize the true limits of his capacities
          • At that point he often attains his peak
        • The more challenging the obstacle he faces, the greater the opportunity for the surfer to discover and extend his true potential
        • The obstacles are a very necessary ingredient to this process of self-discovery
        • The surfer
          • Not out to show himself or the world how great he is
          • Simply involved in the exploration of his latent capacities




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